The Northwest Vikings’ difficult 2020 season has come to a merciful end. Neil Furnish’s squad finished their campaign in Paris, Tenn. with a 48-0 loss against the Henry County Patriots.
The Patriots started fast and never looked back – running back Jermarcus Johnson scored rushing touchdowns of 38 and 44 yards in the team’s first two possessions, then another on a 1-yard push with one minute left in the first quarter. He scored once more in the third quarter, sandwiched between Ryan Damron, Zamariyon Kendall and Cole Townsend rushing touchdowns. Henry County only scored once in the second half.
Northwest ran 38 plays and gained just 101 yards – all on the ground – with just two passing attempts in the loss. Kimarion Austin-Walker took 31 carries for 82 yards, leading the way in both categories.
They finished the season with seven consecutive losses after an opening week in over West Creek. Starting quarterback Ryan Silverstrim went out with a season-ending shoulder injury in their second game, a loss at Montgomery Central, and the Vikings were never the same. From then on, they never scored more than 14 points in a single game and were shut out twice. The campaign was eerily similar to their 2019 performance, where they won their first three games and lost their next eight.
Furnish acknowledged that the program is a long way from being where they want to be.
“There’s a lot of things that have to change at Northwest in order for Northwest to be successful,” he said. “As much as the kids starting and finishing stuff and committing to it, for us to have an offseason. For the strength side, we’re outmanned. We’re physically not able to play because of the strength side of things and there’s a lot of things that have to change in that aspect for Northwest to be successful. There’s just a lot of things to fix.”
There were positives to be taken out of the season. One of their few seniors, offensive lineman Casey Fuaau, developed into the player that Furnish felt he had the potential to be and could move on to play in college. Most of the team’s contributors were sophomores and even some freshmen chipped in, so the Vikings will have a chance to come back in 2021 with more experience and potential to build on it.
“Just seeing how we changed the mindset of a team, understanding how to continue to play without getting emotionally lost,” Furnish said. “The old side would start fighting and doing stuff that wasn’t good. I guess building character, that was our biggest positive from this season. There’s a whole lot of negative, but I’m not going to get into that.”