Both the Jackets and Vikings had a tough start to their abbreviated seasons, with losses against opponents with opposite familiarity. Meanwhile, Braham picked up a victory in their season debut.
North Branch took on a section foe in the form of Cloquet, falling to the Lumberjacks 24-12. The two teams traded touchdowns in the first half, however while the visiting Cloquet converted on both of their two-point conversions, the Vikings couldn’t match, resulting in a 16-12 halftime lead for Cloquet. North Branch’s scores came on a long, 69-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Thauwald to Gavyn Jensen-Schneider in the first quarter. Thauwald also picked up the other score in the game on a three-yard quarterback keeper.
It appeared like the Jackets would be in an offensive shootout against Waseca, who was a replacement opponent after Brainerd had to pull out due to the high school going into distance learning. After the Blue Jays jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, a safety by Aleck Dee and then a 10-yard touchdown pass to Braden Jones early in the second quarter gave the Jackets a 10-7 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, though, Waseca retook the lead and never looked back en route to a 54-18 win. The other Jacket scoring came on a mini Hail-Mary pass from Connor Braaten to Jones at the end of the first half.
Braham came away with the only win in the area, downing North Woods 22-16. After jumping out to a 14-0 lead, the Bombers saw North Woods come back with two touchdowns of their own and with successful two-point conversions, the Bombers were trailing 16-14 at halftime. Braham, however, scored the only touchdown of the second half to make the final score 22-16 in favor of the home team.
It might not have been as dominant of a performance as they are used to, but the Vikings started their 2020 season with a satisfying 3-1 win over Becker. After splitting the first two sets, the Vikings rallied from a deficit to take the important third set 27-25 before finishing the Bulldogs off with a 25-21 fourth set win. North Branch’s offensive attack was evenly spread out as both Paige Peaslee and Reagan Irons led the team with 12 kills, followed by 10 kills from Lindsey Bunes and nine kills from Lydia Kuhlman. Kuhlman also led the team in digs with 21, with Maddie Helin and Chloe Fortuna adding 17 digs.
Braham also came away with a 3-1 win over East Central in their first action of the season. After losing the first set 25-14, the Bombers rattled off three straight wins, with the final set being a convincing 25-12 score.
The Bluejackets were set to start their season at Princeton, however that match was postponed.
Boys and girls soccer
Neither school saw action last week as the North Branch boys game against Duluth Marshall and girls game against Chisago Lakes were both canceled. Both schools now look forward to the section playoffs.
Both Cambridge-Isanti teams received the #8 seed, with the boys playing at Blaine and the girls playing at Centennial on Wednesday, Oct. 14, after this edition of the Star went to press.
On Tuesday, Oct. 13, the North Branch girls team hosted Hermantown and the boys team traveled to St. Francis, where one team will have to score after the two teams played to 0-0 ties in the regular season. See next week’s edition of the Star for full playoff results.
Both schools participated in the Mississippi 8 conference meet last Thursday, Oct. 8, with very satisfying results.
The Jackets, the girls team finished second, with Cierra Johnshoy, Makenna Sjoberg and Ashton Parnell each earning All-Conference finishes. The runner-up team score was the best finish for the girls team in 26 years. The boys team finished in third place, with Owen Jarvela and Jaxon Jones each earning All-Conference.
The North Branch girls team ran the best race of their season, with Evelina Gilkerson leading the way. Dakota Esget and Cora Hudella each came in less than 30 seconds behind. For the boys, Zachary Johnson and Jarett Nelson were neck-and-neck with each other, with Johnson beating Nelson to the line by three seconds.
Girls swimming and diving
It is rare the team results of a dual meet will this literally come down to the final race, but against Big Lake, the two teams were all tied up with just the 400 freestyle relay to go. Unfortunately for the Jackets, the Hornets touched the wall first, giving them a slim, 94-92 win. The Hornets were actually leading for a majority of the meet, but a 1-2-3 finish in the 100 breaststroke by Caiya Gibbs, Cuincy Gibbs, and Anna Heath brought the Jackets back to set up the deciding race. Also unfortunately for the Jackets, this would be how their regular season would conclude as their final meet against Chisago Lakes was canceled when Chisago Lakes went to distance learning.