Vikings defense leads the way

Published 8:24 am Saturday, September 21, 2013

Niles' Austin Weber (77) forced four fumbles and recovered three of them Friday night against Kalamazoo Central. (Leader photo/JOSEPH WEISER)

Niles’ Austin Weber (77) forced four fumbles and recovered three of them Friday night against Kalamazoo Central. (Leader photo/JOSEPH WEISER)

In one of the strangest evenings of football ever played at Niles High School, the Vikings football team played the ultimate bend-don’t-break defensive scheme and Kalamazoo Central.

The Vikings forced 11 turnovers and improved to 2-2 in a 26-14 victory Friday Night.

Kalamazoo Central lost six fumbles in the red zone with four of them coming within five yards of the end zone.

“It’s crazy. The coaches really worked hard to have the kids prepared and you could see that they were, but was happened tonight was just crazy,” Niles coach Antwon Jones said.

Coming in, a Viking victory looked as if it would be a tall order as both starting quarterback Sean Craig and backup QB Alex Harpenau were both sidelined with injuries. This meant, the Viking’s high-octane and pass heavy offense would be left in the untested hands of sophomore Joe Avance.

To the surprise of no one on the Viking sidelines, Avance came out and made it look like he had been playing quarterback the entire season, as the offense barely skipped a beat without its normal field general under center.

When the dust had settled, Avance had finished the game with 317 yards and three touchdowns through the air. All three of his touchdown passes came on home run plays from 67, 60 and 82 yards out.

Although Avance performed wonderfully in relief of the two injured quarterbacks, the story of the night was clearly the Niles defense. Senior defensive tackle Austin Weber recorded three fumble recoveries (all of which were from within the Vikings’ own 5-yard line) and forced four fumbles on the evening.

Niles’ defense was put in a multitude of precarious positions with the Giants starting drives from the Viking 35-yard line (or better) nine times. The defense limited those chances to just two touchdowns and forced a turnover on the rest.

“I can’t give enough credit to the coaches or the kids. They went out and battled. A lot of the time they were put in rough situations, but they fought through them. Our team motto is ‘forward’ and today, we did that. We’re going to celebrate tonight and then come out tomorrow and make sure that forward is the direction we continue to go,” Jones said.

The Vikings will be seeking a third straight victory next week when they travel to St. Joseph to face their old rivals, the undefeated St. Joe Bears


Niles 6 6 8 6 – 26

Kalamazoo Central 7 0 0 7 – 14

KC – Lyndonn Austell 33 run (Donovan Williams kick)

N – Joe Avance 67 pass to Warren Smith (Kick blocked)

N – Avance 60 pass to Jason Taylor (conversion pass failed)

N – Avance 82 pass to Darek Bullock-Mills (conversion good)

KC – Austell 15 run (Williams kick)

N – Ra’Quon Glenn 6 run (conversion failed)