—by Roger Fritz

The 2013 Roland-Story Norsemen had their first public appearance on the gridiron Friday as they matched up against the Iowa Falls-Alden Cadets at Iowa Falls in a pre-season scrimmage. This was the first year the Iowa High School Athletic Association has allowed inter-squad scrimmages. Roland-Story took the opportunity to take on another team and scrapped the traditional intra-squad Powerade scrimmage.

The scrimmage was still considered a Powerade scrimmage, as a sports drink was the price of admission for the event. The teams split the bounty Friday night, and will again do so next year when IF-A makes the return trip to Story City.

All grade 9-12 players saw action on the field Friday night, as the evening did not play out like a usual game. It was a scripted event so that the coaches could observe their players as they matched up against their counterparts in similar skill sets.

The evening began with the freshman teams scrimmaging on one side of the field, while the junior varsity players matched up on the other side of the 50 yard line. In both cases, the respective offenses were given the ball on the 40 yard line, and allowed 10 plays to advance the ball. Each team’s offense and defense alternated for about an hours worth of playing time.

There was no running clock, or scores kept. Unofficially, the Roland-Story freshmen scored one touchdown and surrendered two. The Norse JV scored two touchdowns and surrendered one. But don’t necessarily interpret that as success or failure. If a team had a turnover, they still kept the ball. Both games were competitive and the players matched up well on each side of the ball.

One little side note that occurred prior to the game: The varsity bus was delayed on its trip to Iowa Falls, as their bus had a rear tire blow out near Ellsworth. The players were forced to wait for a replacement bus to arrive from Story City.

The varsity had the field to themselves in the main event. Prior to the scrimmage, both teams met at midfield. Cadet Head Coach Pat Norem addressed both teams, and Norse Head Coach Kerry Van Winkle did the same.

The varsity scrimmage was similar to their understudies. For the varsity scrimmage each team was given 12 plays from their own 25, and given the opportunity to drive to the end zone. There were also other scripted situations given to each offense, such as 1st and 15 from midfield.

Just like the lower level games, there was no clock, or scores posted on the scoreboard. But that doesn’t mean fans in the stands couldn’t keep track, and if they did, they would have observed that the Norsemen scored three touchdowns to the Cadets’ one.

Roland-Story’s scores all came on big gainers. The first TD was an 80 yard run on a counter play by senior back Blake Morgan.

The second score was on a 73 yard TD pass from Zach Hovick to Josiah Soderstrum. This play may have been the most perfectly executed play the Norsemen, as a team, have shown on the field in a long time.

Hovick rolled to his left, and the defense tracked with him. He then threw back across the field on a screen pass to Soderstrum, who had four blockers and one defender in front of him. The four quickly dispatched the lone Cadet and others who trailed from behind. Wide receiver Charlie Messer continued to block down field and threw the final block about 35 yards from the line of scrimmage, as Soderstrum sprinted to the end zone.

Hovick and Soderstrum hooked up later in the scrimmage for a 43 yard TD pass, with Soderstrum coming across the middle on a short pass, and dodging his opponents to the end zone.

In a typical intra-squad scrimmage, if the defense does well, you always wonder if it is because the offense is not up to speed. In this case, the Norse got to line up against a 3A opponent and see how they did, on both sides of the ball. Early indications are that it went pretty well.

The Norsemen will see if they can carry over their promising scrimmage performance into a game that counts this coming Friday. The 2013 opener is in Jewell against long-time rival South Hamilton. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.