Norse fall to 0-5 in North Polk’s Homecoming clash
—by Roger Fritz
The Roland-Story Norsemen football team travelled to the North Polk Comets’ new stadium in Alleman for a midseason non-district matchup. In the end, it was a happy first Homecoming on the field for Comet fans, as the home team rolled the Norse 49-14. The Norsemen dropped to 0-5, North Polk raised their record to 2-3.
The first half was an efficient half for the Comets, as they only ran 11 plays in the first half, but scored 3 touchdowns from their efforts. The Norse defense forced a 3 and out on the first Comet series. But North Polk came back with a 4 play, 72 yard drive, and a 3 play, 20 yard drive.
Down 14-0, the Norsemen got the ball on their own 13 with 11:15 to go in the first half. And the Norsemen may have gone on one of the longest drives in Norsemen history. The Norsemen eventually scored a touchdown, after a 19 play, 87 yard drive that took 10 minutes and 45 seconds of the 12 minute second quarter.
If you count plays negated by penalty, the drive was actually 22 plays. And there were all sorts of keep alive moments in the series. After 3 plays, the Norse were forced to punt on a 4th and 2. But North Polk was offsides on the punt, so that gave the Norse a first down.
After 3 more plays of gaining only 1 yard, North Polk was guilty of a personal foul, which gave the Norse a first down when facing a 4th and 9. Six plays later, the Norsemen were facing a 4th and 5, and again sent the punt team on. But it was snapped to Josiah Soderstrum, serving as punt protector. He ran for 6 yards to give the Norsemen a first down. Four plays later, the Norsemen converted on a 4th and 4.
After all that, the Norsemen were in a 2nd and 9 from the Comet 21. Quarterback Brett Staton went back to pass and hit a leaping Jerald Fritz in the endzone for the touchdown. Gunder Howe added the PAT, and the Norse trailed 14-7 with 36 seconds before halftime.
But like has happened frequently in prior games, the Norsemen were not able to get a stop just before halftime. The Norse appeared to have the momentum, but on their first play after the kickoff, the Comets hit on a 54 yard touchdown to stretch the lead to 21 -7 with 24 seconds before halftime. The Norsemen never recovered.
The Comets scored on 3 of their first 4 possessions in the 2nd half. They also added a touchdown on a 30 yard fumble recovery on a kickoff following one of those scores.
The Norsemen did have another nice scoring drive in the 2nd half. It was shorter in time than their previous scoring drive, but went longer, going 96 yards over 11 plays. Four of the 11 plays were over 10 yards. On the 2nd play, Soderstrum ran for 13 yards, and 3 plays later he added a 24 yard scamper. Two plays after that, Staton again found Fritz, this time for a 14 yard pickup.
The scoring play was the biggest, when Staton hit a streaking Alex Teig near the front corner of the endzone for a 30 yard touchdown pass.
On the night, the Norsemen ran 66 plays for 265 yards, while the Comets countered with 32 plays netting 366 yards. The Comets got 104 yards on the ground on 18 carries. North Polk QB Blake Brauer threw up some video game numbers, going 9-14 for 262 yards and 4 touchdowns. Alex Teig was a leading stopper for the Norse along with the 10 other Norsemen who had tackles on the night.
Offensively for the Norsemen, the team gained 180 yards on the ground on 49 carries. Josiah Soderstrum neared the Roland-Story all-time record of carries in a game of 38, which was set by Jeremiah Ostrem in 1992 against Ballard. On this night, 22 years later, Soderstrum carried the ball 35 times for 151 yards. Adding to the rushing total was Caleb Schlatter with 5 carries for 9 yards, Andrew Schlatter with 4 runs for 15, and Brett Staton with 4 rushes for 6 yards.
In the passing game, Staton was 7-17 for 85 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Nick Moore caught 3 balls for 21 yards, Jerald Fritz caught 2 for 35 yards and a touchdown, Alex Teig caught a single pass, the 30 yard touchdown catch, and Soderstrum caught a ball that lost a yard.
After a two game road trip, the Norse come back home to face South Tama, the first ever meeting between the schools. South Tama is coming off a 45-6 win over South Hardin. The Trojans are 4-1 on the year. Game time this Friday in Story City is 7:30.
The J.V. football team was tied with South Hardin at the half 8-8 on Monday night, Sept. 22, at Eldora, but went on to lose 30-8. Statistics were unavailable. The Norse J.V. is now 2-2 and played at North Polk on Monday, Sept. 29.