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BAUMHOLDER, Germany – Baumholder was admittedly a bit apprehensive about returning to 11-man Division II football. But after a stirring season-opening performance Friday, it’s the rest of the Division II field that should be concerned about the Bucs. Baumholder thoroughly dominated an overmatched AFNORTH team in a 29-0 shutout at Minick Field, celebrating a victory on the same turf where it celebrated a Division III European championship some 10 months prior. Playing without their three graduated All-Europe performers from last year’s championship squad, the Bucs leaned on a group of talented upperclassmen eager to step into the newly-available larger roles. Junior quarterback Isaiah Wilson, a former backup now charged with replacing 2012 Stars and Stripes football Athlete of the Year Ben McDaniels under center, shook off a case of pre-game nerves to craft a solid debut as the Bucs’ starting signal-caller. His 27-yard strike to senior Isaak Giefer gave Baumholder a two-possession first-quarter lead. “I was excited, but I was also nervous,” Wilson said. “I pulled through, and we came out with a victory. “I need to improve on some things, but it’s good so far.” Though much of the Bucs’ focus was on the ground, Wilson and Giefer drew confidence from their flawless execution of a drawn-up pass play. “I knew it was coming, I just needed to be in the right position,” Giefer said of his first-quarter touchdown catch. “It was a good pass.” Running back Taylor Moore added to the lead in the second quarter with a breakaway 81-yard touchdown run; fellow senior Kamryn Wilson tacked on a 23-yard run moments later for a 22-0 halftime lead. Yet another senior, Austin Van Doren, added a 12-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Bucs’ ground-based attack worked to remarkable effect, as 14 different Baumholder ballcarriers combined for 356 yards from scrimmage. Moore led the way with 118 yards on five carries. The Bucs were equally impressive defensively. Senior Michael Graves pounced on AFNORTH quarterback Daniel Cordova in the end zone midway through the first quarter, snapping a scoreless tie with a safety. Nobleman Soule, an imposing 6-foot-5 presence in almost every attempted Lions play from scrimmage, spearheaded the stingy Baumholder defense with seven tackles and three sacks. The Lions found intermittent success on offense, as Cordova completed six passes for 72 yards and scrambled for another 24 on foot. More often, the senior quarterback was done in by errant snaps, dropped passes and a porous front line that the Bucs consistently penetrated. AFNORTH coach Greg Blankenship brought 17 players to Baumholder, 11 of whom he said have no prior football experience. “It was the first game. It showed. We got outplayed,” Blankenship said. “It got better in the second half. They started to learn how to play football, so that’s good.” While the Lions hope for further progress next week against SHAPE, the Bucs face the class of Division II with a Saturday trip to four-time defending European champion Bitburg. Asked if Friday’s momentum might be enough to carry his team to an upset victory, Baumholder head coach B.J. Walker was non-committal. “I hope so,” Walker said. “We’ll find out.”broome.gregory@stripes.com Twitter: @broomestripes

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