TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Vikings rushing leader James Johnson runs over a Kelvin Clippers defender on Friday night.
The Vincent Massey Vikings’ season opener didn’t begin as they had hoped, but by the second half their ground game found footing and carried them to a 14-11 victory over the visiting Kelvin Clippers on Friday.
The Clippers dominated the first half, shutting out the Vikings’ offence and punching holes in their defence to take an 11-0 halftime lead before Vincent Massey rallied in the Winnipeg High School Football League game.
Massey head coach Mike Steeves said the Vikings are a young team and came out battling jitters on their home field, but by the second half they were able to compose themselves.
"At halftime we settled down and we talked about what we needed to do and what was working for us during the first half. We called out the lineman and said, ‘Dudes, we need you right now.’" Steeves said.
"We have two big strong running backs and they really slowed the game down for us. They kept the clock running and they didn’t give Kelvin any opportunity to counter."
James Johnson, Vincent Massey’s 210-pound, fourth-year running back, capitalized on the Vikings’ first possession after halftime to score the team’s first touchdown of the season on an 11-yard run. Johnson finished with 20 carries for 125 yards to lead the Massey offence.
"The coach told us at halftime that the defence needed a break, so we came out more physical and fired up in the second half … Wearing them down is always the goal. It’s a physical game and someone has to give," Johnson said.
Johnson wasn’t the only running back the Clippers had to worry about on this night.
In Matt Bryant’s first game for the Vikings, the 5-foot-10, 240-pound bruiser had 14 carries for 92 yards on the day.
"We just worked through it. We got our flow together and the whole line was doing great," said Bryant, a 15-year-old rookie. "We definitely wore their defence down."
On defense, Jeremy Lucio had seven tackles and three sacks to lead the Vikes, while Ty Kuz had 11 tackles.
Vikings quarterback Evan Didychuk completed 1-of-8 passes, including a 14-yard touchdown toss to A.J. Deacon.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 8, 2012