PCMS Warriors edged out by Vikings
A steady Warrior defense held the Petersburg Vikings to a six-point lead in their season opener August 31 at Petersburg High School.
Welcoming more than a dozen first-year players to their roster this season, the Warriors traveled to Grant County for their first gridiron encounter with the Petersburg Middle School Vikings.
Directed by third-year Head Coach Doug Burns, program participation is high this season with 30 boys out to play including a solid group of returning eigth grade players. Three are two-way starters: Chase Erlewine returns as fullback and linebacker, Tyler Owens at wide receiver and cornerback and Dalton Irvine at tight end and nose guard.
Pocahontas ended last season with a 5-3 record and, after much anticipation, it was time for some Warrior football.
Conlin Halterman kicked off for the Warriors. It was fielded at the 30 yard line and quickly stopped by Erlewine on the 38. Morgan Mason blocked their second drive, and at third and 12, the Vikings managed one yard before Chad Friel and Erlewine took them down. The Vikings gained six more yards with a pass, yet fell short on fourth and six.
Cade Walker returned the punt for the Warriors. Walker and Erlewine each got first downs, still a loss of yardage and a fumbled snap held Pocahontas at fourth and 10.
Petersburg fielded Walker's punt and were stopped by Owens. Irvine delivered a moral crushing sack, but with 26 seconds remaining in the first quarter a pass interference took the Vikings to first down. Petersburg fumbled their next play, and a steady defense by Walker, Tommy Gruelick and a gang of Warriors kept them contained.
Despite attempts by Braxton Rider, Walker and Jacob Walton the Vikings regained possession. Petersburg completed a screen pass. Pressure from Drake Warder upset their next effort, and at fourth and 10, a crushing sack from Walton, Erlewine, Walker and Irvine gave Pocahontas the ball. An interception gave it back and Warder stopped them on the first down. With 14.3 seconds remaining Petersburg threw a 35 yard TD pass scoring the only TD of the night. Warrior defense blocked the two point conversion. Friel returned the kick off 26 yards.
Trey Walton, Ryan Dilley and Justin Hedrick joined the Warriors on the field after the half. The ball turned over on downs to the Vikings. Warrior defense remained aggressive and limited the Viking possession to incomplete passes, a penalty, and QB roll out stopped by Owens. Pentalies and a strong Viking defense held Pocahontas on fourth down. With 40 seconds left in the third quarter Petersburg fumbled the punt. Mason quickly recovered for the Warriors.
Erlewine had fans on their feet in the fourth quarter by rushing 24 yards for first down and again with a 28 yard run. A holding pentalty set them back 10 yards. Mason made a drive up the middle and Erlewine threw a 17 yard pass which was received with ease by Dilley, putting them back on first down. Despite fierce attempts to move the ball downfield, it turned back over to Petersburg. Warrior defense kept them in check and with 39 seconds remaining, Petersburg took a knee ending the game.
"Defensively, I thought we played very well," Coach Burns said. Petersburg has a lot of size and talent. To hold them to only six points is a tribute to our team. It puts a lot of pressure on the defensive backs when the QB rolls out and breaks contain. He made a nice throw in between two guys, and they scored the only touchdown. Overall, though, we held them in check. It was a defensive battle, and they just made one more play than we did. Offensively, we just never could get into a rhythm. Penalties and poor starting position plagued us pretty much the whole game. We just need to learn from this game and get ready for a tough contest against Webster Springs."
Erlewine finished strong rushing 69 yards; 52 rushing, 17 passing and three tackles. Walker, who suffered an injury in the second quarter, had a solid first half with nine rushes for 21 yards, two punts for 60 yards, a five yard punt return and two tackles. Walton finished with 21 yards and one tackle, and Mason rushed six yards, had two tackles and a fumble recovery. Dilley finished with an impressive 17 yard reception, and Irvine shared a sack with Hedrick, delivered another solo sack plus one tackle and a blocked punt. Owens had three tackles, Gruelick two and Friel finished with a 26 yard kick off return and one tackle.