One week after recording just 93 total yards on offense in a 29-10 loss to Chanhassen, the Armstrong football team looked to find an offensive groove against Spring Lake Park, a team that ended the 2016 season in the Class 5A state title game, Sept. 8.
Running back Jesse Sherwood ran for 205 yards and three touchdowns as the Falcons earned their first win of the year with a 27-24 victory over the Panthers.
“We were just more focused, ready to play,” Sherwood said. “Last week was our first game and we have a young team, so they had to get in the feel of how to play.”
Armstrong led 27-3 at halftime after Sherwood rushed for three touchdowns and junior quarterback Cole Priem connected with Kham Chiaokhiao-Bowman on a 45-yard touchdown pass on a perfectly-executed play action pass play.
Priem, who is set to share quarterback duties with fellow junior Tyler Flis, completed three of his five passes for 57 yards and threw one touchdown and one interception. Priem added 24 rushing yards in the win.
“We just got rolling, the running game was working, the line was pushing them back far and we chucked the ball down the field and it was rolling,” Priem said. “You always have to be prepared for the worst, but I felt good and rolled with it.”
The Armstrong defense started the game strong, as the Panthers weren’t able to get much going until late in the first half.
“We really worked, every man had their job and we had to make sure everyone did their responsibility,” Armstrong linebacker Michael Wozniak, who had 12 tackles in the win, said. “They run a great offense and run it to perfection, so we needed to be perfect just like them.”
Then, all of a sudden, Spring lake Park’s offense began to click. The Panthers made it a three-point game with three second-half touchdowns, and it took a strong offensive drive by Armstrong that lasted over four minutes, to send the Falcons home as winners.
“I feel really good about the first half, I obviously feel very good about our team, but I’m not happy with our team’s second half,” Armstrong head football coach Jack Negen said. “Some of it, a lot of it is because we’re young, but we were undisciplined in the second half, made some bonehead things and we have to get a lot better.
“This game should have been done, but we stunk up the place, mentally.”
With a roster filled with youth and inexperience, Negen hopes the victory, and the second-half mistakes, will help his team grow up quickly this year.
“We have to get older every week because we are very young,” Negen said. “This week and last week are very different, these guys are really good, but last week we played a team and we didn’t move the ball, but we made some plays on defense and we got worn down in the second half.
“In this game we were undisciplined with some stuff, like a 15-yard penalty that gave them a nine minute drive. We just have to grow up and fix that stuff.”
Armstrong (1-1) will play next against Hopkins at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, at Hopkins High School. In order to keep up their winning ways, the Falcons know they must avoid the mental mistakes that plagued them in the second half against Spring Lake Park.
“Every week we’re one week less young, so next week I will tell the guys we are on our way to not being young anymore because we have a couple games under our belts,” Negen said. “We have to start growing up with the discipline piece, but I love our kids and the potential is there.”
Follow Chris Chesky on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris, or on Facebook at SunSportsStaff.