The St. James Area football team welcomed in the 2019 football season at home with a 48-7 loss against Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop.
The Saints hoped to exact revenge against the Thunderbirds, who knocked St. James out of the playoffs in 2018.
Instead, GFW was able to run the ball at will, marching down the field twice in the opening quarter, punctuated by a 55-yard touchdown by Dominic Henrichs to close the quarter.
“You have to be disciplined and make sure you do your job,” said head coach John Wilson. “There’s going to be guys who don’t do their job and that’s just the way it goes. Any time you saw a big play was when we missed an assignment.”
Throughout the game, GFW was able to chew up yards on the ground against St. James’ defense, slowly eating away before taking big chunks and ripping off long gains.
Following GFW's second touchdown drive, Lucas Anderson fumbled after getting enough yardage for a first down on fourth and short.
GFW recovered, and subsequently scored on a touchdown by JC Munoz.
Facing a 22-0 deficit and 4th and 5 in GFW territory, St. James needed a spark and got it from backup quarterback Logan Carlson.
The junior lined up at wide receiver but was brought in motion by Derrick Halvorson. Halvorson then flipped the ball to Carlson, who rolled out to his right and hit sophomore wideout Hayden Jones along the boundary.
Jones did the rest, fighting his way towards the goal line, and putting the Saints on the board and back in the game with 3:42 to go.
“We had to go for it, because if we punt they might go down and score,” said Wilson. “We just had to take a chance and keep the ball. We didn’t have many offensive plays, so we just tried to keep the ball, as simple as that.”
The Saints needed a stop, but once again GFW was able to work the ball down the field for a touchdown just before the close of the half, taking a 30-7 advantage into the break.
Late in the third quarter St. James’ defense forced a fumble at the five-yard line, with Derrick Halvorson jumping on the loose ball.
The very first snap from the St. James offense went awry, leading to a safety.
Halvorson faced constant pressure from the GFW defense.
“We just have to do a better job of firing off the ball,” said Wilson. “They’re a little bit bigger, stronger and faster than us, so we just have to make sure we’re staying lower than them. We were behind so they came at us with blitzes and stuff like that all night.”
The Thunderbirds added two later touchdowns, capping off a dominant showing on opening night. St. James team totals:
Derrick Halvorson 6/11 49 yards
Logan Carlson 4/6 68 yards 1 TD, 1 INT
Tallin Johnson 10 carries, 18 yards
Derrick Halvorson 10 carries 8 yards
Lucas Anderson 1 carry, 4 yards
Adrian Luna 2 carries, 2 yards
Hayden Jones 3 catches, 58 yards, 1 TD
Daevon Anderson 2 catches, 11 yards
Logan Carlson 1 catch, 8 yards
Lucas Anderson 2 catches, 10 yards
Derrick Halvorson 1 catch, 18 yards
Rodolfo Arreola 1 catch, 12 yards
Defensive leaders: Tallin Johnson 17 total tackles
Freddy Carreon 14 total tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack
Logan Carlson 12 total tackles
Derrick Halvorson 8 total tackles, 2 TFL, fumble recovery
Daevon Anderson 6 tackles,
Lucas Anderson, 6 tackles, 2 TFL
Peyton Engelking 5 total tackles