By BURT ANGELI
KINGSFORD - The young Kingsford Flivvers overcame their first taste of adversity last Friday.
Jim Oxley/Lakeland Times Photo
Kingsford’s Brody Sundquist slips the grasp of Lakeland’s Brian Biertzer (11) in the Flivvers’ season opener at Minocqua, Wis. Sundquist rushed for 151 yards on 15 attempts in Kingsford’s 40-20 victory.
The Flivvers, with just one starter back from last season, trailed 14-0 in the football season opener with Lakeland, Wis. That score turned around as Kingsford stormed to a 20-14 halftime lead and 40-20 victory.
"Typical first game," Flivver coach Chris Hofer said. "We got off to a slow start. I was happy with the way we kept our poise and stayed in the game.
"We didn't panic and we could have."
The Flivvers drew three false-start penalties on the first offensive series. The Thunderbirds added to the rough start with a 71-yard pass and 88-yard fumble recovery.
"Freak stuff," said Hofer, citing a blown coverage on the touchdown pass and the Flivvs' only turnover that resulted in the score. "After we settled down, I saw some good things. I definitely saw a lot of things we need to get better at, too."
Lakeland Coach Mike Mestelle cited five Thunderbird turnovers and team conditioning as factors.
"I thought with about six minutes to go in the second quarter, our guys were very tired, and Kingsford was much fresher, and they really started to dominate the line of scrimmage," Mestelle told the Lakeland Times.
Hofer agreed with Mestelle, calling his Flivvers "a real well conditioned football team."
"I didn't see us getting tired, granted that has a lot to do with momentum at times," Hofer said.
The Flivvers launched the 2012 season with a 42-6 win over Lakeland.
"I told the coaching staff that last year when we went into our match-up with Kingsford, it felt like we went into a gunfight with one bullet," Mestelle said. "This year, we felt like our gun was loaded with different things we could do."
The Flivvers will look for improvement Friday when Cedar Grove-Belgium (2-0) from the Sheboygan, Wis., area invades Kingsford for the home opener. Kick-off is 6:30 p.m.
The Rockets are bigger than the Flivvers.
"They're a big, physical, fast football team," Hofer said. "They do things pretty good. We definitely have our work cut out for us."
Cedar Grove rode Alex Giles, with more than 5,000 career yards, in past seasons. The Rockets now turn to Aaron Chier, who gained 245 yards rushing and tallied four touchdowns in a 38-12 rout of Manitowoc Lutheran.
"Little bit different style runner," Hofer said in comparing Giles to Chier. "This kid (Chier) can flat out fly. We definitely have to keep him from getting loose."
Expect a local contingent to be cheering on Cedar Grove and Coach Chris Zablocki. His father and step mother, Allan and Jan Zablocki, live in the Heights, and his uncles - Tim Zablocki, Guy Zablocki and Terry Baker - also reside in the area.
"Kingsford is a very fast and physical team," said Zablocki, who played in the Flivver Open golf tournament and fund-raiser this summer at Pine Grove Country Club. "They are coached extremely well by legendary coach Hofer and do all the little things well.
"There is a reason they are a very good football team year after year. They work well together as a team and do not get rattled against adversity. Like always they have a great running backs and play a very stingy defense."
The two-time defending Central Lakeshore Conference champion also defeated Milwaukee King, 35-2, this season. Kingsford defeated Cedar Grove 20-7 last season.
NOTES: Kingsford gained more than 370 yards total offense, with quarterback Joe Hofer accounting for 92 on 6 of 9 throwing ... Linebackers Jake Allen and Alex Patterson spearheaded the defense with nine tackles apiece (3 solo). Allen, with an interception and a forced fumble, tallied 20 points on the Flivver defensive charter. Patterson produced 18 (fumble recovery); Cole Tengesdahl, 17 (two interceptions), and Daniel Harrington, 12.