A perfect start: Defense shines as Flivvers roll 35-12

Kingsford running back Eli Rouse (20) breaks through Gladstone’s defense line and runs over Braves defender Nate Young (6) who was attempting to stop the Flivvers runner. Kingsford dominated the visiting Braves for a 35-12 conference win. (Terry Raiche photo)

KINGSFORD — Riding an undefeated start to its season, the Kingsford varsity football team opened the home portion of its schedule against the unbeaten Gladstone Braves at Flivver Field on Friday.

Despite facing the toughest test of their young season, the Flivvers’ (3-0, 1-0) defense stepped up grabbing three interceptions as they picked up a 35-12 win over the Braves (2-1, 0-1) in both team’s first WestPAC Conference contest.

“I think we could play better,” said Kingsford head coach Mark Novara. “I think we did some things out there that we gotta clean up, but for us, that’s a big ‘W’. That’s the one that everyone has been talking about and we put it on them pretty good.”

After receiving the opening kick off, Kingsford’s first play of the game was stuffed. On the following play, Elizin Rouse took the handoff off left tackle and left the Gladstone defenders in the dust as he scampered for a 70-yard touchdown.

Down 7-0, the Braves’ offense strung together a 7-play drive culminating in a 39-yard Nate Young touchdown pass. However, Gladstone missed a two-point conversion leaving the score at 7-6 with 8:02 remaining in the first quarter.

The Flivvers were forced to punt on the next drive and the Braves had the lead in their sights. But just three plays later, the ball squirted out of Young’s hands on a handoff exchange. After rolling into the end zone, Noah Johnson pounced on the ball to put Kingsford ahead 14-6.

Gladstone immediately responded with a 15-yard touchdown run of its own. But, back-to-back false start penalties derailed the Braves two-point conversion attempt and the score remained 14-12 at the start of the second quarter.

Just before halftime, the Flivvers took a 21-12 lead as Rouse rumbled in for his second rushing score of the game.

“(Rouse) does everything well,” Flivver quarterback Nic Novara said. “He’s a great runner, great in the pass game, blocking, he’s our best player. He’s a freak.”

It was all downhill from there for Gladstone as Young was picked off by Jack Kriegl. It was Kriegl’s first pick of his varsity career.

“We knew we had to shut them down,” Kreigl said. “Nate Young is a great football player. He’s such a big threat, you gotta watch every move he does. So, we really had to keep an eye on him and we couldn’t let them get the big play tonight, and we didn’t.

On the Braves’ next drive, Young saw an open wide receiver on a slant route. But as he let the ball go, Gavin Trevillian stepped in front of the pass and took it to the house, extending the Flivvers lead to 28-12.

Not to be out done, Kriegl grabbed another interception on the following drive as the Braves comeback hopes went out the window.

With 11:46 remaining in the game, Rouse broke through the Braves defense and dove across the goal line for his third rushing touchdown of the day, pushing the score to 35-12.

“We moved the ball well, at times, in the first half when we needed to and then we just shot ourselves in the foot a few times… I think we left some things out there, (it) could have been even more lopsided.”

One of the areas where Kingsford struggled was in the passing game. However, Nic Novara believes the chemistry will grow with his receivers.

“We’ll clean that up in practice,” Nic Novara said. “Obviously, we lost Nic Nora this last year, a pretty big loss. I was pretty comfortable with him last year. We’re still a work in progress on the outside. We’ll get better at that this week.”

Rouse led the Flivvers offense with 28 carries for 202 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

“I’m glad he’s on our team, for sure,” Mark Novara added.

The Flivvers return to action on Friday as they head to Negaunee. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

“Just play with that fire, we can’t let it go,” Kreigl said. “We got a good team next week sitting there, Negaunee. So, we’re gonna have a good battle with them too. We just gotta keep practicing and working hard.”


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