Fresh off an exciting victory last week, the Parkway North Vikings have an extra day this week to prepare for its homecoming game.
The Kirkwood Pioneers will visit the Vikings in a 1 p.m. Suburban XX South Division game Saturday (Sept. 20). Parkway North is 1-0 in division play. This will be Kirkwood’s conference opener.
“We’ve always in the history of our school played the homecoming game on a Saturday,” said Vikings coach Bob Bunton, is a Parkway North alum. “I like that tradition playing on a Saturday afternoon. It’s got that kind of a college big game feeling about it. But unlike a college, we don’t get to handpick our opponent.”
Kirkwood is no patsy. However, the teams are pretty evenly matched. In the last six years, the teams are 3-3 against each other. Kirkwood won 35-19 last year.
The two have met before for the Vikings’ homecoming game.
“One of the best homecoming games we ever had was against Kirkwood when we won 21-14,” Bunton said. “We won on a 1 yard run with one minute left. It was a great game.”
Bunton believes this, too, will be a great game too between two programs with a lot of history.
“We’ll be ready to go,” Bunton said.
The Vikings enter the game fresh off an emotional 12-9 win that handed Summit (3-1) it’s first loss of the season. Parkway North sophomore Jack Faron booted a 22-yard field goal with no time left on the clock to give the Vikings the victory.
It was the second field goal of the game for Faron. He kicked a 26-yard field goal at the 4:57 mark of the second quarter for a 3-0 Vikings lead.
What made the win so special was Bunton’s crew had to rebound from an emotional 17-14 loss in overtime to rival Parkway Central.
“It was a great win for us,” Bunton said. “We had that tough overtime loss to Parkway Central. It was a heartbreaking loss in OT for us. We left the field feeling down. We gave a great effort but it didn’t show on the scoreboard.”
There was a hangover effect, too, Bunton said.
“It was a tough week at practice. We were all fighting it a little, the coaches and the players. But we put it behind us. After losing to Central, we looked at the schedule and we know it is as hard as anybody can have on a schedule. There’s nothing but tough teams left to play.
It credit the coaching staff and the kids. They put it behind them and looked to get ready for Summit. It was a great display of toughness by our kids. It was a great performance.”
The Vikings made it 9-0 when Ryan Smith scored on a 20-run yard with 10:57 to play in the third quarter. However, Faron’s extra point kick attmempt was wide left.
Summit didn’t wilt. A third-quarter safety and an 85-year run by Sam Pennington with 5:18 play plus the extra point Caleb Kappler tied the game a 9-9.
It was a game of field position. That led to the rare safety.
“Their punter pinned us on the 1-foot line,” Bunton said. “We tried to run but they stuffed us for a safety. That was the first one we had since the state semifinals in 2009. Then they got a long run to tie the game.”
Parkway North got the ball back but had to punt.
A turnover gave the Vikings a chance.
“With about 1:30 to play, Clayton Webber intercepted a pass near midfield and ran it to the 30,” Bunton said. “They had a late hit out of bounds on the play and that moved it to the 15. We milked the clock and ran th te ball to get in better field goal position”
Bunton took a time out with 3 seconds to play and sent Faron out there to kick the field goal.
“We lined up and they iced Jack after he kicked it and it had gone right through,” Bunton said. “So he had to do it again. All the kids on the sidelines were holding hands and hoping.”
Bunton knew there was pressure on Faron. But he knew he could handle it.
“He’s a sophomore but he was in that situation last year as a freshman,” Bunton said. “He didn’t come through against Webster Groves but we were tied and we won it in overtime. So he got a next time.
“I didn’t say anything to him. He’s a three-sport athlete and a very poised kid. I just let kickers go. I don’t have anything to say to them other than make it. I totally trust Jack.”
That trust paid off with the good kick.
“We had a great snap. We had a new kid Cam Baletine, a junior, snapping because our No. 1 snapper is injured,” Bunton said. “He snapped it to Duke White, a sophomore holder. He did his job and Jack kicked it.”
So the Vikings went from the lowest of lows after losing to Parkway Central to a high with a win at the gun.
“I’m so proud of them,” Bunton said. “What a difference a week makes.”
Now, it’s time to play Kirkwood.
“There’s no question Kirkwood is one of the more talented, solid program in the area,” Bunton said. “We’re going to have to play extremley well to beat them. Our focus is on us getting better.Our kids will play hard, we know that. We can’t make any mistakes against Kirkwood. We have to be tough to beat them. We can’t give them easy scores or good field position. We can’t miss assignments.
“They are well coached. We respect them. This is a great opportunity for us.”