By Bruce Strand
Elk River Star News Sports
The Rogers Royals played an excellent first half, which wound up being all the football the Royals and North Branch would play, in their opener Thursday evening.
Gunnar Bloom returned two punts for touchdowns as the Royal took a 42-7 halftime lead at North Branch, which goes into the books as the official result, because severe lightning prevented the action from being resumed.
“It was fun to finally get out and play a real game, even if it was only half a game,” said Marc Franz, Royal coach.
The two teams sat for close to 45 minutes before coaches and officials elected to call the game as lightning just wouldn’t quit on this warm evening with no rainfall.
Rogers scored 21 points in each quarter. Adam Heyer got them started with 19-yard and three-yard touchdowns in the first quarter. Bloom made it 21-0 with a 60-yard punt return.
After North Branch’s Tony Denn scored on a two-yard run, the Royals went back to work.
Nate Weber dashed 35 yards and Steve Hines 26 yards for scores, and Bloom broke another punt return, this one 54 yards.
Isaac Aanerud kicked six extra points.
The Royals had 155 yards rushing, evenly divided between five backs, led by Weber with 40 in three carries. Conner Henderson completed 3-of-3 for 62 yards. Nathan Hajder caught two for 55 yards and Heyer two for 21.
“We got off to a good start. We had some explosive plays,” said Franz. “We did have some first-game mistakes. They got their touchdown off an interception.”
The Royal defense, said the coach, had a solid all-around game, showing good discipline against the Viking option offense, preventing any big plays.
Rogers will host Buffalo next Friday.