Chief among Head Football Coach Bob Bunton's keys going into Friday's road clash with St. Louis University High School's Jr. Bills was something that didn't involve the traditional x's and o's.
He wanted his players to beat the heat, which meant drinking fluids.
Temperatures were a far cry from their high points of recent weeks, but as is often the case in the opening weeks of the season, dehydration reared its ugly head early and often on Oakland Avenue, contributing in part to a 7-6 loss.
The Vikings controlled much of the first half with a ground game by committee, wth contributions from Roderick Hoskins, Johnathan Little, Jalen Dillard and Roosevelt Abram. Hoskins' 1 yard plunge late in the first half gave North the edge, but Senior Daniel Brodsky, in his first game as the team's kicker, could not convert the extra point.
On SLUH's first play from scrimmage after the ensuing kickoff, Jr. Bill QB Raymond Wingo broke off an 80 yard gallop to the endzone. The extra point was good with what ended up being the final margin.
In the second half, Viking quarterback Andy Huss missed two series with what appeared to be cramping in his right leg. Players on both teams shuttled replacements in and out of the lineup because of cramping.
The waterboys were busy, but it may have been too late.
The teams traded second half turnovers, with a Parkway North fumble ending a drive at the SLUH 32 with 5:30 remaining in the 3rd quarter. A SLUH drive deep in Viking territory was foiled by an interception in the endzone by Cam Cosey.
Huss returned with just under 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter but the Vikings' 3rd turnover, a late fumble, gave SLUH the ball to run out the clock.
"We lost 7-6 to a very good team," Bunton told his squad afterward, while bemoaning the impact dehydration had on his team despite the emphasis they placed on it.
"The season's not over," he said.
Parkway North hosts Oakville next week.