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Vikings’ Sophomore QB Shines In Opener

The Grand Island Vikings and Niagara Wheatfield Falcons went head-to-head Saturday at Terry Harvey Field up in Niagara County in a Section VI, non-conference football game. It was a warm, sunny afternoon in which the Vikings explosive offense and stout defense came away with a big 27-6 win to open the season.

Except for an early fumble inside their own 15 yard line that led to the Falcons’ only score, there wasn’t much the Vikings did wrong. Sophomore QB Cam Sionko threw three TD passes to lead the Vikings on offense. Sionko hooked up with Zane Johnson, the junior wide-receiver on two big TD throws, the first went for 28 and the second was a 41 yard strike. On the second TD, Johnson caught the ball at the Falcons 5-yard line while two Niagara Wheatfield defenders tried to bat the ball away. Then, Johnson was able to break away from Falcons cornerback Evan Cody, and into the end zone for the score.

The Vikings went into halftime with a 14-6 lead over Niagara Wheatfield.

Grand Island picked up right where they left off in the third quarter. They went 60+ yards on their first drive of the second half. Sionko continued to carve up the Falcon secondary and even showed he can run. Sionko scrambled for 16 yards on a 2nd and 10 along the way. The drive would end with Jim Thorpe (SR-RB) rushing for a 6-yard touchdown, seemingly putting this game away at 7:02 of the third quarter.

The Falcons took an ill-advised penalty on the scoring play, which moved up the Grand Island kick-off.

Niagara Wheatfield’s very next drive ended abruptly when senior QB Matt Mixon fumbled during a broken passing play. Forced out of the pocket, Mixon took off for a first-down and just about had it, but the Viking defense stripped the ball away. Grand Island recovered the football at the Falcons 36.

Just a few minutes later Sionko found senior wide-out Will Hughes wide open over the middle for an easy touchdown, capping off a six-play 36-yard drive. That brought the score to 27-6 and held up through the end of the 4th.

On defense, the Vikings didn’t give up any passing yards. Nada. Zilch. JB Wilkes, a senior defensive end was constantly putting pressure on Mixon and came away with a big sack in the 3rd. Offensively, the Vikes have some nice weapons and although Sionko is just a 10th grader, he has experience and an arsenal to work with. Johnson does it all, including kicking extra points. Thorpe is a solid back too; he finished with over 50 yards on the ground (along with his TD).

“We said you get a first win against anyone to start your season it’s a big lift” Vikings head coach Dean Santorio said “It’s a momentum builder, hopefully our kids realize that”.

“Those first four plays for us were horrendous, then after that our quarterback settled down.”

Talking about his 2nd touchdown to Johnson, quarterback Cam Sionko had this to say “We (Z. Johnson) talked about that before, if the safety played on the other side, if I beat my man up top, I’ll be open. He just ran a great route, great blocking and I just got him the ball.”

“It wasn’t an easy time, we just executed what we had to do, our line did good” Sionko added.

After the loss Falcons head coach Brett Tylec shared his thoughts. “We made some mistakes, we just couldn’t keep that momentum going. Grand Island did a great job with their pass protection. We had difficulty keeping guys on the field.” Running back KJ Welch finished with 86 yards on the ground and a TD. He wasn’t on the field much in the 2nd half. “He’s our go-to-guy. We know that he’s going to be one of our work horses” his coach said after. “We’re hoping we get him back to where he was last year by next week”.

“We didn’t quit, that shows you what type of kids we have out here on the field and that’s something to be proud of.”

Grand Island (1-0) will host Amherst (0-1) next Friday at 7pm while the Falcons (0-1) host Clarence (1-0).

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