During head coach Norm Brown’s tenure at North High, the team has typically struggled to come out of the gates, with two 2-2 and two 1-3 starts on their resume.
This season is different, however, as the Stars have gotten off to an impressive 3-1 start after defeating Wasco 22-8 on Friday night at North.
“This year we opened up flat against Centennial and the character wasn’t there but we challenged the guys to play four quarters of smart, hard-nosed football," Brown said. "We didn’t get that against Golden Valley and Shafter and felt that there was more to this team and we challenged them in practice every day.”
Friday wasn’t a pretty day on the stat sheet for North, but the Stars relied on homerun offensive plays and a bend-but-don’t-break defense to get the job done.
Wasco (1-2) opened the game with a botched punt, giving the Stars prime real estate at the Tigers’ 15. Four plays later they were in the end zone, with a 5-yard touchdown run by Brian Dean.
After another quick Wasco possession that was littered with penalties — the Tigers would finish with 16 flags on the day for 105 yards — the Stars struck again on a 61-yard bomb from Titus Liest to Dean on second-and-25. A two-point conversion would give North a quick 15-0 lead.
Wasco finally began marching down the field, but was ultimately stopped in the red zone. The Tigers decided to go for it on 4th-and-goal but were denied.
“We like our offense,” Wasco head coach Chad Martinez said on why he made that call. “They put points on the board because of our mistakes, we blew two coverages. We’re down our top-two cornerbacks but we had guys that came in and gave their best. It’s the next-man-up mentality.”
The Tigers finally got on the board midway through the second when shifty running back Christian Alvarez scampered through the Stars defense for a 60 yard touchdown, trimming the deficit to 15-8. It was seemingly the only major miscue from North’s defense all game.
“We knew Wasco would be physical and attack us and we met a good challenge out there,” Brown said.
The finishing touch came when Liest found Walter Lenoir for a 45-yard buzzer-beating-touchdown pass to end the half.
The North defense generated two interceptions against Wasco and also recorded three turnovers on downs.
“Excellent showing by our defense,” Brown said. "Our defensive coordinator Chris Lucas worked really hard to get them prepared and I thought they were really focused.”
North will travel to face West on Friday while Wasco will look to rebound against McFarland.