The first night of high school football can bring out the jitters in even the most experienced teams.
Who wouldn’t be excited to finally get out there on the field?
Northern's veteran head coach Bill Miller knew this going into Week 1.
“We were very fortunate at times, and sometimes we created our own mistakes,” Miller said, “but when they needed to rise up and make a stop, they did that. I was very proud of our kids for the effort they gave.”
Jitters aside, the Polar Bears used a balanced offensive attack and a strong defensive front to hold off a solid Susquehannock team, 14-12, in the season opener for both teams.
In his first game in a Northern uniform, freshman Kyle Swartz was impressive, rushing for 93 yards on 17 carries.
After a big punt return from senior Joey Razzano and a 41-yard pass to Jake Coover, Swartz put the Polar Bears on the board first when he scored from 7 yards out with a minute left in the first quarter.
Susquehannock controlled possession for most of the second quarter thanks to some bruising rushes from senior workhorse Jack Allred. He carried the ball six times on the 15-play drive and capped it off with a 2-yard touchdown run with 8.9 seconds left to play in the half and bring the Warriors within one, 7-6.
Allred led Warriors with 88 yards on 19 carries.
Swartz struck for his second score of the day in the third quarter with 20 seconds left which would prove to be the game winner for Northern.
“He’s got a bit of a burst of speed, and in the second half most of the plays, that’s what we needed,” Miller said.
Susquehannock threatened in the final quarter when quarterback Chase Summers found a wide open Chris Norris in the back of the end zone to bring the visitors within two. But the Polar Bears stuffed the two-point conversion attempt at the line with 6:40 left to play.
Northern senior quarterback Curtis Robison connected on 9-of-21 passing for 179 yards. Five of those passes went for 107 yards to fellow senior Dylan Baxter.
“He’s really matured into the position,” Miller said. “The thing that is nice about him is that his head is always in the game.”
Northern – Kyle Swartz 6 run (Aiden Alves kick); 1:00
Susquehannock – Jack Allred 2 run (kick failed); 8.9
Northern – Kyle Swartz 3 run (Alves kick); :20
Susquehannock – Chris Norris 11 pass from Chase Summers (run failed); 6:40
Rushing — Susquehannock, Jack Allred 19-88, Kyle Orndorff 5-18, Alec Kramer 3-0, Chase Summers 6-2, Ben Trego 2-2. Northern, Curtis Robison 9-(-12), Kyle Swartz 17-93, Jake Coover 1-9, Steven Yurchison 5-13.
Passing — Susquehannock, Chase Summers 6-61. Northern, Curtis Robison 9-179.
Receiving — Susquehannock, Alex Kramer 1-15, Ben Trego 2-15, Kyle Orndorff 1-12, Garrett Mathena 1-8, Chris Norris 1-11. Northern, Dylan Baxter 5-107, Jake Coover 1-41, Wyatt Lewis 1-15, John Kearney 1-10, Joey Razzano 1-6.