Salem — Week 1 of high school football provided some solid action at North Salem High School, as the Vikings hosted the Raiders from Crescent Valley on Friday night. This one was a firm defensive struggle for most of it, but the Raiders eventually pulled away and sealed the deal against the pesky Vikings.
After Crescent Valley failed to get any traction to start the game, North Salem took the field with solid field position around the North Salem 40 yard line but it didn’t last long. Senior Quarterback Justin Montero threw an interception to open the Vikings offensive night and Crescent Valley took immediate advantage of it. On a slant route, Cam Hemzacek took it 78 yards to the house from Walker Riney and Crescent Valley took a 6-0 lead after the failed extra point attempt. After a North Salem punt, the Raiders drove into the Vikings red zone, with Riney finding Hemzacek again for another touchdown, making it 13-0 Crescent Valley early in the second quarter. The rest of the half featured a turnover on downs and a punt for each team before a late drive by the Vikings ended in the red zone with the Raiders leading 13-0 at the half.
Opening the third quarter offensively, Riney threw an interception to Nelson Millan and the Vikings were suddenly in business offensively. Montero found Elesban Almonte up the left sideline for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 13-7 early in the third quarter. A few drives later, Crescent Valley found the end zone with Wela Wa’a up the right side, but it was called back on a penalty, keeping the score 13-7 entering the fourth quarter of play. After a Vikings turnover on downs, Riney put the foot on the gas pedal in the fourth. Riney scrambled left side through a wide open field for a touchdown, padding the Raiders lead to 19-7 with five minutes left in the game. After another turnover on downs, Trevor Adams found the end zone on the ground from a couple yards out, pushing it to 26-7 and the Raiders would tack on another score to win it 33-7 to open the 2019 campaign.
Cam Hemzacek and Walker Riney talked about the victory afterwards, including being an offensive sparkplug and preparing for West Albany next week. Riney on the victory, “I thought we played hard. There were some small things we could’ve changed that we’ll definitely work on this week, but I’m just incredibly proud of our boys on the line and my receivers. Defensively, we were unstoppable in this game and I love everyone on this team and proud of the coaching staff for what they brought to us tonight.” Riney on preparing for North Salem, “We worked a lot on that Wing-T all week, so we kind of had an idea on what they were going to look like and we prepared hard for them. We knew right from the get go that the guards were going to tell us where to go and our defense just read the offense and worked their butts off in this game.”
Hemzacek on being the offensive sparkplug, “It makes me feel good that I can pick up our guys and get them going feeling like a leader. In the future, we probably won’t need those sparks as we gain good chemistry but the harder we grind the better we get.” Hemzacek on preparing for West Albany, “We need to fix our pull, our guard pulling but I think other than that we’re ready to take West Albany next week.”