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Tornado blows past Pels, 56-13

MEDFORD -- North Medford stepped into a den of trouble Friday night against Klamath Union.

Having upset then-No. — Roseburg last week and with seventh-ranked Ashland looming on the schedule this week, the eighth-ranked Black Tornado easily could have overlooked the up-and-coming Pelicans.

That could have happened, but it didn't.

North Medford (2-0) used an overwhelming edge in power and speed to dominate Klamath Union 56-13 Friday night at Spiegelberg Stadium.

Looking past the Pelicans (1-1) was never an option for North, according to senior tailback Steve DeClerck, who said his team wanted to quiet those who dismissed last week's upset of Roseburg as a fluke.

That was one of our big concerns, DeClerck said. It wasn't a fluke. A lot of people said that, but we came out here tonight and hopefully proved that we aren't a fluke.

We didn't even think about Ashland. It was all KU and proving that we were not a fluke.

Anchored by an offensive line of Matt Haight, Brian Backstrom, Scott Hoffman, Frank Silva and Jesse Gelsinger, North was unstoppable as it racked up 487 yards on offense -- including 379 on the ground.

DeClerck benefitted most from his offensive line's domination, rushing 14 times for 125 yards and three touchdowns.

They were just knocking people around, the tailback said of his offensive line. The holes were just huge. They were getting after it. Our strength is our line this year.

North players scampered into the end zone untouched six times, with the other two scoring efforts coming when DeClerck and Ken Halpin pushed aside Pelican defenders en route to the end zone.

The Tornado stormed to a 6-0 lead in the first two minutes of play, with DeClerck capping a seven-play, 59-yard drive by dashing 17 yards into the end zone.

DeClerck added his second touchdown of the first quarter minutes later, carrying two Klamath defenders into the end zone from — yards out. DeClerck then dashed into the end zone for a two-point conversion to give North a 14-0 lead.

North tacked on its third touchdown 30 seconds into the second quarter, as Halpin bulled — yard for the touchdown. Jim Pickrel drilled the PAT to push North's lead to 21-0.

Klamath followed with its best drive of the first half, advancing as far as North's 23-yard-line before stalling on fourth down.

After a 6-yard dash by junior Jake Scheid, North caught the Pelicans off-guard as junior quarterback Nate Mayben lofted a perfect pass to Scheid, who hauled in the pass on the right sideline and raced 71 yards for a touchdown. Pickrel's PAT pushed the lead to 28-0, and ended the scoring for the first half.

After Klamath was denied on its first possession of the second half, North's potent ground attack once again took to the forefront as DeClerck scored from 16 yards to cap an outstanding night by the senior.

The one thing I like about Steve DeClerk is that he holds onto the football, North coach Rod Rumrey said. He just does not turn it over. He's a player that's just going to get better every game.

North added another quick touchdown in the third quarter after Evan Gordon's kickoff bounced off Klamath's Clint Shults and was recovered by Diego Apodaca. After an 8-yard run by Apodaca, Gordon slipped through the middle untouched for a 29 yard touchdown.

Pickrel's PAT boosted North's lead to 42-0, and offered Rumrey a chance to see his second and third-team players.

They really went out in the third quarter and got after it, the coach said. That allowed us to play a lot of players.

Klamath finally got on the scoreboard with three minutes to play in the third quarter as Danny King ducked through the pack and raced 59 yards to cut the Pelican's deficit to 42-7. King finished the game with 158 yards on 17 carries.

North added a touchdown on its first possession in the fourth quarter, with Curtis Stout scoring from the 2 yards out. Kelly Brown added the PAT to boost North's lead back up to 49-7.

The Tornado appeared on their way to another touchdown until Jason Mortenson picked up Phil Oulette's fumble and dashed 61 yards for Klamath's second touchdown.

Oulette quickly atoned for the error on the ensuing drive, slicing through the Pelican defense for a 48-yard touchdown run to finally cap the scoring.

You don't want a game to get out of hand like that, but you also have a lot of real eager, young guys that want to get in and want to do their absolute best. It's kind of tough, Rumrey said of the outcome.

North Medford's Matt Haight, Jake Scheid (32) and Kelley Jantzer (88) give chase to Klamath Union tailback Danny King (10).