On Friday night the Dragons opened up their season in North Branch. Pine City hadn't played the Vikings since 2004.
North Branch started with the ball to begin the game. Their first possession looked to put them on the board early, but a fumbled snap would bring an abrupt end to a promising drive. The Dragons took over inside their own 30 yard line. The Dragons would also fumble on this drive but were able to recover. Pine City wound up having to punt the ball back to North Branch. As the Vikings took over, it was another promising drive. This time instead of ending in a turnover they were able to punch the ball into the endzone on a 2 yard run from senior Ashton Labelle. The Dragons offense were able to push the ball into North Branch territory a number of times but were unable to capitalize at all in the first half. In the 2nd quarter Labelle broke off a 15 yard rushing touchdown to extend their lead to 16-0 before half. The Dragon defense proved to be a problem for the Vikings, as they stiffened many times on 3rd and 4th down to stop their drives.
Viking senior Ryan O'Day scored on a 22 yard rush to make it a 24-0 lead. The Dragons offense seem to sputter a bit to begin the 2nd half, but the defense helped out in a big way forcing two more turnovers. One of those would give Pine City the ball on the North Branch 49 yard line. With one snap senior Jacob Lindahl took the hand off on the left side and bolted down the sideline untouched for a touchdown. The Dragons looked like a rejuvenated team, now down 24-6. Late in the 3rd, the Vikings were able to march down and score on a Labelle 8 yard rush. Neither team was able to score in the 4th quarter and North Branch came away with the 32-6 victory.
Though the Dragons lost there is a lot of good to look forward to with this team. They can move the ball quickly, they have the ability to be explosive not just in the run game but also the passing game as well. The defense forced three turnovers and doing that game in and game out should prove to be a winning formula. The Dragons will host Aitkin(1-0) this Friday. North Branch will host Duluth East(1-0).
Photo Credit: Four Seasons Photography