By Jake Butler
On the field, Walled Lake Northern and Walled Lake Central are rivals, but on Friday, September 11, they united for a great cause, the annual ‘Merica Out game; honoring those who served our country in the armed forces. Although the Vikings dropped the game 28-14, the success of the game was definitely not measured with the final score.
Both teams received special jerseys for the game, and in a touching ceremony after the game, the players presented the over 100 military families in attendance with them. On the back, above the player’s traditional number, was the name of the veteran that they played in remembrance of.
Senior quarterback and captain Ethan Rodriguez commented on the importance of the game and said, “It means a lot that we get to put on a jersey and play every Friday night, but playing with someone else’s name on the back means something more.” He also noted that giving the family the jersey after the game “was the best part of the night. Representing those families is really something special.”
Rodriguez was responsible for both of the Vikings’ touchdowns on Friday night; an 85-yard run started off the scoring, and after a 55-yard carry by sophomore Lukas Shamoun, Rodriguez kept the ball again and capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Unfortunately, the two touchdowns weren’t enough to overcome Walled Lake Northern offense, and although the Central defense didn’t allow the Knights to complete a single pass, they allowed 397 yards on the ground, ultimately losing by two touchdowns.
This marks the third loss in a row for a team that won the regional title last year, and a (0-3) start to the season. Even though some teams would throw the towel in at this point, the Vikings–as well as the fans behind them–remain 100% optimistic. Senior defensive tackle Blake McConnell confidently remarked, “we still believe in ourselves as a team. We believe and know that we are better than we have shown and [are a better team than] most people think we are.” McConnell also stated, “all that does is make us work harder to prove them wrong.”
With the team staying optimistic, and a strong student section continuing to support them, the Vikings are certainly still looking at the postseason as their ultimate goal.