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Published: September 26, 2009 11:20 pm      print this story  

HS FOOTBALL: GI cruises past Kenmore East

By Tim Schmitt
Niagara Gazette

GRAND ISLAND — Little about the first three games of Grand Island’s season has followed in the path of coach Dean Santorio’s past campaigns. Turnovers and defensive lapses led to an uncharacteristic 0-3 start for the Vikings, who entered Saturday’s Class A contest in danger of clinching a losing regular season and possibly out of the playoff race.

A trip from winless Kenmore East was just the remedy, though, as Santorio’s charges looked like the Vikings of old in a comfortable 34-0 victory at Grand Island, a possible starting point to what senior linebacker Brett Dlugosz hopes will be a run of victories.

“This is exactly what we needed,” said Dlugosz, who had 11 tackles, including three for losses. “We haven’t been playing well. But today was fun.”

With senior gunner Joel Klock at the helm, the Vikings drove up and down the field before halftime, punching it in three times in the second quarter en route to a 28-0 halftime edge.

The Vikings (1-3) had committed 10 turnovers through their first three games — all inside their own 25-yard line. But Santorio’s team didn’t make any crucial mistakes against a Kenmore East team that couldn’t get its spread offense clicking.

Instead, the offense got the ball moving early, taking the pressure off an embattled defense, and with the running game clicking, the play-action passing game opened up for Klock, who finished 9 of 14 for 116 yards.

“When you put yourself in good situations, you can do what you want to do,” Santorio said. “Today we did that. You can’t expect your defense to stop people when you give it to them inside the 20 all the time. You just can’t do that.”

Up 7-0 after a 5-yard first quarter score from Andy Lalonde, Klock gave the Vikings a cushion on the first play of the second quarter. Wideout Nick Kellner pulled a quick double move, Klock pumped once, then launched an easy toss to Kellner in the corner of the end zone to give the hosts a 14-0 edge.

On its next possession, Ken East’s Pat Tuttle was stripped and the ball popped straight into the arms of Ben Tomkins, who rumbled down to the Bulldogs’ 20. Although Ken East dug in and made a nice defensive stand at the goal line, Klock punched in a keeper on fourth and one to put GI up 21-0.

The Vikings punched one more in before halftime as Klock found Pat Gallagher in the flat for a 5-yard score. A quick toss to Kellner set up the score as the junior caught a ball on a short in, then danced across the field, following a string of blockers down for a 33-yard pickup.

The lone score of the second half was a 30-yard run by Lalonde, who finished with 123 yards on 14 carries.

Now that his team has finally broken into the win column, does Santorio think the Vikings can make a serious run?

“I think we’re capable of it,” he said. “We’ve shown we can play against anyone. We did lose to three pretty good football teams.

“But the kids still aren’t happy with that.”