Posted On: 10/13/18 4:12 AM
Going into the Friday afternoon tilt between the Fridley Tigers and Academy Force, I knew the game was likely not going to be competitive. Fridley had only lost one game, and Academy Force had not won a game. By the end of the first quarter the game was for all intents and purposes, was over. By the middle of the second quarter the Tigers’ second team was in the game and – yes – they were still scoring.
The first play of the game quarterback Kaleb Blaha kept the ball on a read option and ran up the middle for a 55-yard touchdown.
The defense was just as impressive early – forcing the first of many three and outs. On third and long, defensive lineman Luke Lamont sacked the Academy Force quarterback forcing a punt.
After being turned back on a fourth and long, the defense gave the ball back to the offense. Senior linebacker Nick Philips dropped into a short zone stuck his hand into the air and knocked a pass into the air and corralled it for the interception. Fifty yards later Fridley was in business again.
“We play all three phases of the game,” head coach Justin Reese said. “If we don’t score offensively we are going to score defensively. If we don’t score defensively, we are going to score on special teams. We are going to find a way to score the ball. That is what I think makes this team special.”
Running right up the middle running back Michael Ude scored the Tigers’ second touchdown of the game from 14-yards out. For all intents and purposes, the Tigers put the game away on the last play of the first quarter when Ude broke free off the right side for a 55-yard touchdown.
“Everyone did their assignments,’ Ude said. “We blocked really well, and we worked really well as a team.”
The Tigers’ front seven took over from there. The first team defense didn’t allow the offense to cross mid-field.
“The defensive line did a good job stretching the quarterback out,” defensive lineman Cooper Severson said. “We were able to get some sacks, and that set the tone.”
Continuing to run the ball at will – it seemed like Fridley was only throwing because they were getting board – Philips took his turn getting into the end zone. It was midway through the second quarter and up 28-0 Fridley had already called off the dogs and was using its second team offense and defense.
“We have a senior group that helps our younger guys,” Reese said. “Our seniors have brought those guys along.”
The first play for the second team offense resulted in yet another touchdown. Shah Hasan ran right up the middle behind the back up offensive line for a 62-yard touchdown.
Academy Force would get on the board late in the half to make the halftime score 35-6.
Even with the second team in the game for the entire second half, the story was much of the same. The Tigers ran up and down the field against the overmatched Force to the tune of four more touchdowns.
Although Academy Force was obviously overmatched from the word go I was impressed by a group of kids that despite being dominated on the field, they never complained to the referees, they never got down on each other or the coaching staff and looked like they genuinely enjoyed playing football. I know it is a small thing, but I have seen plenty of teams get blown out, and their demeanor is one of a beaten team. That was not the case with the Force.
Fridley moved to 6-1 and will take on 7-0 Providence Academy next week.
Academy Force dropped to 0-7 and will finish the regular season against St. Paul Highland Park.