By Cliff Mehrtens
CHARLOTTE – The atmosphere surrounding North Mecklenburg High football is changing. The Vikings expect to win.
Last season, they were 2-9.
This season, they’re 2-1 after a convincing 47-8 road victory against East Mecklenburg.
“The thing about us, regardless of what anybody thought, is we never accepted losing,” Vikings running back William Santiago said. “We hate to lose. But with the new coaches and everything else, we expect to win here at North Meck. This year we’re just bringing new things in – new players, new coaches, new everything.”
North Mecklenburg dominated throughout the game. The Vikings were stronger on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Their defense sacked East Meck quarterback David Allen five times and North Meck’s Cedric Robinson had two interceptions and Xavier Samuel returned another for a score.
Chris Moore and Oliver Webb had two sacks each, and Avery Jones had one.
The Vikings’ offensive line opened enough holes to spring Santiago for 137 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. North Meck’s passing game also was effective. Nolan Beasley threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter – a 32-yarder to Stephen Langford and a 69-yarder to TayRay Tabron. Santiago’s first scoring run, an 8-yarder late in the second quarter, gave North Meck a 20-2 lead.
The Vikings clinched the game with two touchdowns early in the third quarter. Beasley’s third touchdown pass, a 13-yarder to Tabron, bumped the lead to 27-8. On the next possession, North Meck defensive back Samuels returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown that made it 34-8.
In the postgame huddle, the Vikings didn’t act giddy. They acted like they could grow accustomed to this winning thing.
“I think (players) have bought in,” North Meck coach Brad Baker said. “We’re starting to believe we’re good enough to beat people. We’ve still got a long way to go, but 2-1 does feel good.”