HINCKLEY— North Woods sophomore T.J. Chiabotti racked up 187 yards rushing and three touchdowns here last Friday, but it wasn’t quite enough to keep pace with the Jaguars’ explosive passing …
HINCKLEY— North Woods sophomore T.J. Chiabotti racked up 187 yards rushing and three touchdowns here last Friday, but it wasn’t quite enough to keep pace with the Jaguars’ explosive passing game.
“We did a great job of slowing down Hinckley-Finlayson’s running game,” said Grizzlies Head Coach John Jirik. But the Jaguars picked apart the Grizzlies’ pass defense, connecting on four big pass plays for touchdowns that kept them in the lead throughout the game. The Jaguars drew first blood, but the Grizzles had their moments and went into the break with the game still close at 22-16.
North Woods did have a chance to take the lead in the third quarter, but penalties brought back a touchdown twice on the same drive. “Penalties were a key factor in the loss,” said Jirik. “We were called for eight penalties for 90 yards while Hinckley-Finlayson was only called for two penalties for 15 yards.”
The Jaguars went on to extend their lead, with two more touchdowns in the second half. North Woods added one of their own to make it a 36-24 final score.
The Grizzlies had little success in the air, as quarterback Zach Cheney completed just three of 16 attempts, all of them to Chiabotti. Senior Nathan Crain added to the Grizzlies’ running game with 54 yards on 11 carries, while Cheney rushed five times for 33 yards.
On defense, sophomore Jake Panichi notched an interception, while Cheney recovered two fumbles.
Despite the loss, the Grizzlies are continuing to show progress as they compete for the first season at the 11-man level. Jirik said he saw real improvement, particularly as his team racked up 300 yards of offense and largely controlled the Jaguars’ running game.
“Overall, we were happy with the improvement and are hoping to have two starting defensive backs return soon which will help us defend the pass,” said Jirik.
They’ll get the chance to test their progress when they host East Central next Friday. Jirik said it should be an interesting game, one that is currently forecast to include chilly temperatures and possible snow. “Both teams will be battling winter-like conditions and most likely a soggy field,” said Jirik. “The conditions will definitely alter the style of play for both teams.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.