Posted at: 09/23/2013 6:07 PM
Updated at: 09/24/2013 10:33 PM
By: Laura Kennedy
In the small northern communities of Cook and Orr, football is a way of life.
"There's nothing like it," said Jeff Chaulklin, Grizzlies assistant coach. "I think the parents and kids, we all breath and eat football. I think football is the number one thing."
Three years ago, the two high schools joined together to become North Woods. Led by head coach John Jirik, the Grizzlies have been a force to be reckoned with in the Big North conference.
"You had two communities that were strong in football," Jirik said. "You had Orr and you had Cook and they came together. Both schools over the last 15 years had probably six or seven section championships."
North Woods is not a formidable team in terms of size.
"When we come out on the field, we look like a ninth or tenth grade team because we're so small," Jirik said.
But senior captain Corey Strong says the team compensates in other aspects of their game.
"Our line needs to be quick off the ball. Once the ball is snapped we need to stay low, go fast and sustain a block for a couple of seconds to let our backs through," Strong said.
So far, that strategy works well. Junior running back Travis Hooper found the endzone more than once in the Grizzlies' win over Chisholm on Friday.
"We're not as big, but I think we're a little bit quicker, a little bit faster than we have been in the past," Hooper said. "When we hit a hole, there's a chance we could be gone every play."
"It might take a quarter or two to figure out how to overcome that battle, but our kids are smart enough and quick enough to get that," Chaulklin said.
North Woods has some tough matchups on the horizon, but the Grizzlies are ready to put their best paw forward and finish strong.
"Just stay focused, get to sections and hopefully get everything going," Hooper said. "After that, just see where it leads." in cook, lk, ews.>