LAKE STEVENS — The 2012 version of the Lake Stevens Vikings may have just discovered its identity.
For those who are stuck in the past, remembering the magical Vikings’ season of a year ago, this year’s team isn’t half bad either. Lake Stevens improved to 1-1 on the season with a 45-21 victory over Marysville Pilchuck on Friday.
In week one, the Vikings lost to a very good 3A team in Glacier Peak — this week they beat one.
“It was a very big win,” Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri said. “We had so many first-time starters last week and give it to Glacier Peak, they played really well, but they had 17 guys who had some varsity experience and were used to that game speed. Our kids came out a little bit shell-shocked last week just by the speed and precision required on Friday nights. We talked about that all this week.”
Apparently, the team was listening. From the opening kickoff, the Vikings players were prepared, moving the ball consistently on offense and being led by a physical group of linemen and linebackers on defense that slowed down Marysville’s potent run game.
“Our kids did a really good job tonight of adjusting to game speed and matching Marysville’s physicality,” Tri said. “We played really well for four quarters. I’m really happy with our effort tonight.”
For a team that was coming off a convincing victory over Arlington in week one, there was no hiding the disappointment.
“This one stings a little bit,” Tomahawks coach Brandon Carson said. “We’ve got to hand it to Lake Stevens. They came out and took it to us up front.
“We’ve obviously got some things to fix and we will get them fixed, hopefully.”
Jake Luton led the Tomahawks’ offense with 243 yards on 13-for-25 passing. He also had one touchdown and one interception. Austin Joyner paced the rushing attack with 103 yards on 13 carries.
Tri said the Tomahawks don’t have anything to worry about.
“I still believe Marysville has got a really good football team over there,” Tri said. “We just played really well tonight. We took advantage of the opportunities that were presented and we made some big plays when we had to.”
Last season the combination of quarterback Jake Nelson and receiver Christian Gasca paced the offense. On Friday a new quarterback-receiver combination established itself. Junior quarterback Gavin O’Neil and senior receiver Conner Coleman connected on several throws to keep the Vikings’ offense moving.
Coleman was the star of the game, catching six passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns — a 45-yarder from O’Neil and a 41-yarder from freshman Jacob Eason.
“I love my line, they gave my quarterback so much time in the pocket this game,” Coleman said. “My line gave my quarterback the time that was needed to get me the ball and then my downfield blocks were just amazing. I had great downfield blocks all day.”
One block in particular was made by senior Mawuli Attipoe, whose block on the 41-yard touchdown pass allowed Coleman to get to the outside and outrun the defense.
Tri said now that Coleman is getting consistent time on the field, he is showing what he is capable of.
“Conner has been a good football player,” Tri said. “He was just buried in the depth chart last year behind Christian Gasca and Brady Pahukoa. Those were the two positions he played, so he didn’t get a lot of junior experience, but we’ve always known he’s a very skilled athlete and is going to be a playmaker for us.”
O’Neil was sharp also, completing 10 of his 22 passes for 206 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. His backup, Eason, saw limited action but did connect with Coleman on one of the long touchdowns.
“I still think we have two good guys right now, but Gavin has just got a little bit more experience and a little bit more poise right now,” Tri said. “That’s why he’s emerged as our starter, but I was very happy with the play of both quarterbacks tonight.”
The Vikings controlled the tempo of the game throughout but didn’t pull away until late in the game. Then, two plays in the fourth quarter seemed to kill whatever chances Marysville had left.
After Dante Fields’ 25-yard touchdown pass from Luton cut the Lake Stevens lead to 31-21, the Tomahawks attempted an onside kick, which they recovered. After discussion from the officials, they determined the ball did not go 10 yards and Lake Stevens took possession at the Tomahawks’ 49-yard line.
On the ensuing Lake Stevens’ possession the Vikings had the ball on the Marysville 22-yard line facing a third-and-13. O’Neil dropped back to pass and the ball was knocked out his hands by Alex Gray, and then scooped up by Jordan Hoorn, who ran it back 75 yards for what was called a Tomahawks touchdown and would have cut the deficit to just three after the extra point.
Only it didn’t.
The officials again discussed the play — significantly longer than the last discussion — before determining that it was a forward pass and taking the points off the board.
The Vikings added 14 more points after that play to secure the victory.
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com.
At Lake Stevens H.S.
Marysville Pilchuck33 8 7 —21
LS—Ignacio Ponce 28 FG
MP—Ryan Spiva 41 FG
LS—Tanner Krenz 34 pass from Gavin O’Neil (Ponce kick)
LS—Conner Coleman 41 pass from Jacob Eason (Ponce kick)
MP—Spiva 37 field goal
LS—Coleman 45 pass from O’Neil (Ponce kick)
MP—Kyle Nobach 34 pass from Jake Luton (Joyner run)
LS—Krenz 10 run (Ponce kick)
MP—Fields 25 pass from Luton (Spiva kick)
LS—Elgaen 7 run (Ponce kick)
LS—Berry 4 run (Ponce kick)
Records—Marysville Pilchuck 1-1, Lake Stevens 1-1