UPDATED: Evergreens win openerNorthwood-Solon Springs wins opener 62-0. Junior Josh Malone scores five touchdowns.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
The sidelines were conspicuously bare during Friday’s non-conference football game between the Northwood-Solon Springs Evergreen and the Cornell Chiefs. Combined, the two teams had just 40 players to put on the field.
The Evergreens — with a 25-man roster — actually had a numbers advantage over Cornell.
“We won’t see that anymore,” said Jason Fox, Northwood-Solon Spring head coach. “From here on out we’ll have a battle on our hands; we’ll be (outnumbered).”
Cornell, rebuilding after losing a number of key players from last year’s team, has 26 players on its roster. Injuries and ineligibility have taken a toll early, though, and the Chiefs faced Northwood-Solon Springs with just 15 players Friday night.
Northwood-Solon Springs defeated Cornell 62-0, scoring eight touchdowns in the first half before putting in its reserve players to finish out the game.
“We don’t have a lot of subs ourselves, so it’s not like we have a second team to throw out there,” Fox said. “We weren’t trying to run up the score. We had to run our stuff and get some reps because next week we’ve got a huge battle on our hands against Frederic.”
Josh Malone got the Evergreens’ season off to a blazing start when he returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. The speedy running back broke past Cornell’s defenders and ran the ball about 85 yards to put Northwood up 7-0 just 13 seconds into the game.
“That’s definitely a good way to start the game,” Fox said. “It was blocked just like it was drawn up. Nice blocks up front, and Josh hit the hole and set the tempo.”
Malone scored twice more in the first quarter to put the Evergreens up 20-0 and then ran in two more touchdowns in the second quarter. Also scoring in the second quarter were Keanan Franco, on a pass from Phil Larson; Nick Murray, on a pass from Brett Missinne; and Brad Ross on a 13-yard run.
Murray scored again in the third quarter for the final 62-0 score. The entire second half was played in running time.
Cornell threatened to score twice in the final four minutes, but Northwood stopped the Chiefs at the 1-yard line and Austin Meyer later broke up a potential touchdown pass to end the game in a shutout.
Malone finished the night with 153 yards rushing on eight carries. Murray had 75 yards on seven carries, Ross picked up 67 yards on five carries and Austin Meyer had 24 yards on seven carries.
Northwood’s two quarterbacks combined to complete 3-of-4 passes Friday.
Larson’s only pass of the night resulted in a 20-yard touchdown to Franco, and Missinne was 2-for-3 for 37 yards and one touchdown.
On defense, Brandon Wilcox led the team with eight tackles. Mike Meyer had an interception for the Evergreens and Brian Flamang recovered a fumble deep in Cornell territory in the second quarter.
Cornell qualified for the WIAA football playoffs last year with a 5-2 record in the South Lakeland Conference, but lost many key players from that team, including two now playing at the college level.
The Chiefs have about the same number of players on their roster as they did in 2009, but this year’s team is much younger. Cornell has just three seniors on its roster. The Evergreens have four but boast an experienced junior class.
“They lost a lot last year,” Fox said of the Chiefs. “We knew that coming in, but we still didn’t know what to expect from a team we’ve never played before.”
This week the Evergreens take on Frederic, a team with which they have developed a rivalry in the past few seasons.
“We beat them two year’s ago, so they kind of still remember that,” Fox said. “It’s going to be a similar type of game, I think, as that was. It’s going to be a battle.”
Northwood’s 10-7 victory over the Frederic Vikings in 2008 was a turning point for the program. The Evergreens earned a measure of respect from their conference opponents and went on to qualify for the playoffs that year.
Last year, the Evergreens again qualified for the playoffs, but they fell to Frederic 38-22.
The Vikings haven’t slowed down this season. In its season opener, Frederic defeated Small Lakeland Conference opponent Siren 54-6.
The Evergreens host Frederic at 7 p.m. Friday in Minong.
Northwood 20 35 7 0 62
Cornell 0 0 0 0 — 0
N — Josh Malone, 85-yard kickoff return (Phil Larson kick), 11:47.
N — Malone, 5-yard run (Larson kick), 6:42.
N — Malone, 62-yard run (kick failed), 1:35.
N — Keanan Franco 20-yard pass from Larson (Larson kick), 9:50.
N — Nick Murray 32-yard pass from Brett Missinne (Larson kick), 7:59.
N — Brad Ross 13-yard run (Larson kick), 4:48.
N — Malone, 5-yard run (Larson kick), 3:15.
N — Malone, 30-yard run (Larson kick), 3:00.
N — Murray 6-yard run (Larson kick), 1:38.