Prep Sports: La Jolla High Vikings victorious in home opener against Country Day School

It was a La Jolla rivalry game under the Friday night lights Aug. 24, when the La Jolla High School Vikings took to their home turf for the first time this year to challenge the La Jolla Country Day School Torreys. And the Vikings kept the win at home following the 40-7 victory.

As the first “Future Viking Night,” which provided activities for children planning to attend La Jolla High, the game opened adorably by letting these future Vikings run onto the field, right behind the varsity team.

At the 7 p.m. kick off, the Torreys opted to receive first, but couldn’t do much with it. At each attempt at yardage, they were hit with a wall of Vikings defense and were unable to complete a down.

On the Vikings’ first possession, the team relied on senior Noah Marquez (back from an injury), who made incremental movements toward the goal, down by down, before the team inched its way into the end zone to open the game 6-0. The Vikings then unsuccessfully attempted a two-point conversion.

Conversely, the Vikings were also able to complete long running throws to waiting players near the end zone throughout the game, starting with the first quarter, the first of which brought the score to 13-0.

A pass in the first quarter lead to the Torrey’s lone touchdown to close the first quarter, 13-7.

But throughout the first half, a series of penalties from both teams — including ones for pass interference, unsportsmanlike conduct, false starts and

delay of game — kept the score tight and prevented what could have been larger plays. So much so, the only change in score in the second quarter came from a Vikings touchdown in the first few minutes and a field goal in the last five seconds to end the half, 23-7.

After a halftime pep talk to avoid the “costly mistakes” of the penalty-ridden first half, the Vikings entered the third quarter with focused momentum and kept it up. Between an advantageous interception and a touchdown of their own, they added three big plays that went unanswered, adding 17 points to the board to make it 40-7. Because both teams went scoreless in the fourth quarter, that was how the game ended.

This fluctuation of running game and long throws, says Vikings coach Tyler Roach, is part of a bigger strategy they plan to use throughout the season.“We really wanted to establish our running game this week. In our season opener (which the Vikings lost 40-14) we were not the aggressor. We needed to be more physical,” he told the Light after the game. “La Jolla Country Day is well-coached, so we wanted to assert some dominance.”

In reflecting on the win, Roach credits players like Marquez, who in total carried the ball 16 times; senior Gabe Solis who has “matured into his role” on offense; senior Evan Brown, who contributed two touchdowns; and sophomore Max Smith who “played really well for us overall.”

Further, with the assistance of new defensive coordinator Charles Bussey, the Vikings defense is looking to be an asset no matter who the opponent.

“Our defense played well and is a strength of ours. In both games this season our defense played really well and they carried over. They are going to keep getting better,” Roach said.

— That defense will be put to the test during the Vikings’ next game against Santa Fe Christian, which Roach calls a “defensive nightmare,” 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31 at home, 750 Nautilus St. ljvikings.com

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