For most of the fourth quarter of the Northeast football team’s home game against North County on September 14, the scoreboard showed a staggering point total for the Eagles: 51.
Only problem was, the score was incorrect. The Eagles actually had 61 points.
It was not clear if the incorrect total was user error, or if the scoreboard simply can’t count that high. Either way, the reality was the same: the Eagles had come to play, and no one was slowing them down.
Northeast surged to an early lead and never looked back in out-gunning the Knights for a highlight-packed 61-40 win that moved the Eagles to 3-0 on the season.
Ethan Young rushed for 172 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries, quarterback Riley Pitt had touchdown runs of 51 and 69 yards, and Josh Krcik ran for two touchdowns and 61 total yards to lead the Eagle offense. Bennet Diaz added a rushing score for Northeast, and Pitt threw a touchdown pass to Danny Baker as the Eagles amassed 524 yards of total offense in a resounding display of offensive playmaking.
“The offense was clicking on every cylinder,” said head coach Brian Baublitz. “I’m a defensive-minded coach, and I sure wouldn’t want to have to game-plan for this offense.”
The blocking of linemen Aiden Barnhart, Nick Vogel, Cruz Maez, Brandon Baublitz, JanMichael Finch and tight end Stephen Haley set the tone for the Eagles, who ran rampant over the Knights right from the start. Diaz opened the scoring with a six-yard touchdown run after a punt return to midfield by Krcik, and Pitt followed on the next possession by breaking out right for a 50-yard end zone trip up the right sideline. North County responded with a 40-yard touchdown run by the dynamic Chris Leslie, but Krcik came right back to answer with a sweep left and a 15-yard touchdown run to make the score 20-6.
After an interception by Grayson Biekert set Northeast up in the red zone, Young got his first score on a rumbling 18-yard run on which multiple Knight tacklers could not bring him to the ground. Diaz added a two-point run to give Northeast a 28-6 lead late in the first quarter, and the Eagles never led by less than three scores from that point on.
An interception by defensive lineman Matt Wukitch set up the Northeast offense again, and after an acrobatic catch by Young on the sideline for a 34-yard gain, Krcik took a handoff and ran in another score from 15 yards and a 35-6 lead.
“The line was doing their job, the running backs were reading the holes,” said Krcik. “We were in the game mentally, and we got the job done.”
Even though North County’s potent one-two punch of Leslie and quarterback Deontez Parker wouldn’t quite let Northeast run away with the game—Leslie ran for four scores on the day and caught a touchdown pass from Parker to keep the Knights hanging around throughout the game—the Eagles managed to keep North County at arm’s length. Scores by Pitt and Young allowed Northeast to hold a 47-28 halftime lead, and Young burst free for a 68-yard running score to open the second half and give the Eagles a 53-28 lead. An interception by Northeast’s Miles Macon and a 12-yard touchdown pass from Pitt to Baker allowed the Eagles to close out the win.
“It was fun, for real,” said Young, a first-year student at Northeast who transferred from Centennial for his senior year. “I can’t take all the credit. It was my line for sure. My line was opening up the holes. I’m thankful for the line and this team.”
For the Eagles, who defeated Laurel and Aberdeen in weeks one and two, a 3-0 start to the season is the reward of a process that has been gaining momentum over the past two years. Krcik and Young both cited the intense training the Eagles took part in during the offseason and preseason.
“Offseason and training camp is a big difference,” said Krcik. “The whole team, we all bought in to what we wanted to do this season.”
Coach Baublitz lamented the Eagles’ personal-foul penalties and was loathe to join the growing list of teams that have trouble slowing Leslie—the Knight senior has wreaked havoc on opposing defenses through the season’s first three weeks—but he was nonetheless proud of Northeast’s output.
“I would have liked us to widen the margin in the second half, but you know what, they’ve struggled for so long here at Northeast, and we won by 21 points, so I’m extremely proud of the young men,” said Baublitz, noting that the sophomore class gained experience by seeing lots of snaps in the second half.
Barnhart, a senior, said it’s satisfying to see the Eagles’ hard work pay off early in the season.
“I can’t remember the last time we went 2-1, and here we are the end of week three and we’re 3-0,” he said. “It’s hard to describe the feeling.”
At 3-0, Baublitz said the Eagles never lacked belief, and their confidence continues to grow.
“For the confidence of this team, they’ve had swagger since the beginning of training camp,” said Baublitz. “We have never backed down from our expectations. From day one when we got here, we knew it was a long shot, but every year we go in to make the playoffs. It was no different. The offseason lifting, everything we preach to them is, the losing at Northeast is done. It’s over with, it’s unacceptable. They’ve bought in. They’ve bought in to everything we’re doing, and they’re just great kids.”
The Eagles host the perennially strong Cape Henlopen (Delaware) in Week 4.
“We’ve got a tough game next week, and we’re going to compete,” said Baublitz.
Video highlights of Northeast's victory over North County: