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BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – How do you change a culture, a climate of a football program? One week, one practice, one win at a time.

And accountability trickling from top to bottom.

On a clean Friday night at Fred Gahres Stadium, Northern Lebanon continued to exhibit signs of a reversal of fortune, during a 33-6 domination of visiting York Tech. Northern Lebanon wore down the Spartans as the game went along, posting the last 26 points of the game.

Junior quarterback Grady Stichler spearheaded the Viking attack with three rushing touchdowns and 105 yards on the ground.

With the outcome, Northern Lebanon improved to 2-1 overall. Last season, the Vikings went 0-8, and they were a combined 2-28 in the last 30 games former head man Roy Wall coached.

“No, it’s still in process,” said Northern Lebanon first-year head coach Jason Rice of the on-going transformation. “To say we changed the culture of the program a couple of weeks into the season would be a bold-faced lie. We have tremendous captains and they wear that hat proudly. They’re policing the other players. They’re holding guys accountable. Now you’re starting to see a change in the culture.

“The next step is consistent preparation, working hard in practice,” continued Rice. “All the things you don’t see, that go on Monday through Thursday. You want to refocus and prepare for the next game. You have to make practices harder than games. Our demands of these guys are going to increase.”

Northern Lebanon scored on its opening possession of the contest, on a 54-yard dash to pay dirt by Stichler. But York Tech’s King Zion Mattai returned the following kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, and the Spartans were within 7-6 of the Vikings.

“Early, it was almost like a stalemate,” said Rice. “One of the things we’re trying to get these guys to realize is that no matter what happens, adversity is going to come on Friday night. We just have to ramp the tempo up. We definitely could’ve performed better offensively in the first half. But they did flip that switch in the second half.”

During the middle portions of the first half, the Vikings had a couple of drives stall out, but still managed to get short field field goals from Simon Grimes. But 14 seconds before halftime, Stichler connected with Dwight Ostermayer for a 46-yard touchdown completion that gave Northern Lebanon a 20-6 lead in the locker room.

“That changed the momentum in the second half,” said Rice. “We were ready to go, with 30 seconds left in the half. All I saw was green grass in front of him (D.Ostermayer). It certainly got the crowd pumped up.

“The message at halftime was to just kind of refocus,” added Rice. “We’d like to see ourselves in an even better position (in the second half). Their (his players’) mentality may have been a little complacent. It was only a two-possession game.”

But the way the Viking defense was performing, it really didn’t matter.

Stichler registered his second and third rushing touchdowns in a period of 4:19 spanning the third and fourth quarters. The final one, a 46-yard sprint into the end zone, came on the initial snap of the final period.

“The defense played tremendous,” said Rice. “They flew around to the football. (Linebacker) Kalani (Adams) has this knack for finding the ball. I want our guys to know what a strong defense looks like and make them realize that we can do this on a regular basis.

“We switched up our front a little bit,” Rice continued. “We knew we were going up against a run-heavy offense. We brought a fifth guy to the line of scrimmage and that really set the tone.”

Northern Lebanon held York Tech to 107 yards of total offense. The Vikings’ balanced attack featured 156 yards on the ground and 132 yards through the air.

D. Ostermayer hauled in five passes for 79 yards.

“I’m just proud of my guys,” said Rice. “They’ve been working their butts off. There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done. We made a lot of mistakes on offense, especially in the first half.”

To purchase images in this article please email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

2021 Northern Lebanon Football Schedule

DateOpponentsOutcomes
8/28
7:00 pm
Pine Grove
at Northern Lebanon
7
13
Nonleague
9/03
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Hamburg
6
47
Nonleague
9/10
7:00 pm
York Tech
at Northern Lebanon

Nonleague
9/17
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon

Nonleague
9/24
7:00 pm
Lampeter-Strasburg
at Northern Lebanon

Nonleague
10/01
7:00 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Northern Lebanon

League
10/08
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Columbia

League
10/15
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco

League
10/22
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Pequea Valley

League
10/29
7:00 pm
Octorara
at Northern Lebanon

League

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