Sparts fall to Viking horde, 45-19

Running back Derek Houston is brought down by Viking defensive linebacker Chuck Dryden in Friday night’s loss at Memorial Stadium. - Ryan Schierling / Staff Photo
Running back Derek Houston is brought down by Viking defensive linebacker Chuck Dryden in Friday night’s loss at Memorial Stadium.
— image credit: Ryan Schierling / Staff Photo

The rivalry resumes after more than a decade, unhappily for the home team.

Is it too late to blow up the bridge?

For football purposes, unfortunately so.

A competitive first half gave way to a rout Friday evening, as the Bainbridge Spartans surrendered 33 second-half points and were overwhelmed by the Viking horde from North Kitsap, 45-19.

The season opener marked a rare gridiron tilt between the two schools, traditional rivals that were split up by various conference realignments and hadn’t faced each other since 1992.

Eighty-degree weather and the back-to-school buzz brought out a festive crowd to the BHS stadium grounds.

The Spartans started the game with fitting pizazz, running a halfback option on the first play from scrimmage, with Grant Leslie hitting a streaking Mike Ersser for 61 yards to the Viking 23.

The drive reached the 11 before a Joe Picha pass skipped through a receiver’s hands and was picked off at the three. But the Spartans promptly reclaimed the ball, as Nick Blakey recovered a fumbled North Kitsap snap on the four.

A procedure penalty and two plays for losses backed the Spartans away from the end zone, but on third and goal from the 15, Picha and receiver Zach Ainsley split the Viking defense for a touchdown hookup.

A successful point-after by Angelo Ritualo gave the hometown boys a 7-0 lead.

That was when the Vikings rolled out an effective ground game that would amass 359 yards on the night. The one-two-three punch of Andy Sturza, Nic Stearns and Jeremiah Doehne, behind effective line play, punched holes in the Spartan defense throughout the rest of the quarter.

Sturza rumbled 60 yards for a touchdown with 6:21 to go in the frame, although the try-for-point was blocked.

Three minutes later it was Stearns’ turn, reaching daylight untouched with a 53-yard bolt up the middle. A two-point try was foiled when Spartan Mike North breached the line and brought down Viking quarterback Jared Prince in the backfield, leaving the score 12-7 North Kitsap.

Twice in the second quarter, Bainbridge rode the running of halfback Nick Linne to get within 10 yards of the Viking goal line. Both drives petered out as the Spartans forfeited the ball on downs.

The North Kitsap effort turned similarly futile, with Spartan defensive end Blake Jensen leading a charge that thumped Prince in the backfield in several plays.

The third quarter belonged to the Vikings, with two unanswered scores building an insurmountable 26-7 lead.

Bainbridge showed renewed signs of life with about nine minutes left in the contest, marching deep into Viking territory behind the running of Zach Kornfeld and Zach Ainsley. The drive was abetted by a pass interference penalty that put the Spartans at the Viking six.

On first-and-goal, halfback Derek Houston bounced off the line and went around left end for the score. The subsequent kick was blocked.

The Vikings needed just three plays after the kickoff to counter; a 30-yard pass and two runs put them back in the end zone for a 32-13 advantage.

The Vikings then recovered a Houston fumble on the Bainbridge 14, and Doehne went around right end on the first play to make the score 38-13.

Leslie, who saw second-quarter action at quarterback but rotated to running back after Linne went down, closed out the Spartan scoring with a 24-yard run. But the Vikings saw fit to run up the margin, with Stearns sprinting up the middle for a 46-yard touchdown with four minutes left.

Offensively, quarterbacks Picha and Leslie combined for 145 yards passing on a 10-of-25 effort, with Picha recording a touchdown and two interceptions.

Linne led Spartan rushers with 54 yards on 11 carries, with Leslie tallying 51 yards and Kornfeld 48. Ersser led the receiving corps, hauling in four passes for 81 yards.

Ersser and Matt Draper anchored the defense with three tackles apiece, while North notched two tackles and assisted on six more.

The Spartans travel to Squalicum to weather the Storm in a 5:30 p.m. contest this Friday.

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