Vikings make final stand |

Vikings make final stand


Becky Regan / Tahoe Daily Tribune John Cefalu looks for a target in the second quarter as Spring Creek bears down on him in the Vikings' 21-17 win at home Oct. 19.

This year’s football team put South Tahoe back on the map.Playoffs are out of reach, but the boys generated a 5-3 football season, the likes of which this town hasn’t seen in nearly a decade. Tonight, the Vikings will attempt one for the road as they close out their come-from-behind season with a home game against Truckee at 7 p.m.The Vikings got off to a slow start. They struggled with their offensive line, and quarterback John Cefalu took a beating. The first three league games slipped through their fingers. “Obviously we wish we could start it over with the way we’re playing now, but you can’t look back, you can only look forward,” coach Kevin Hennessee said.That’s exactly what the Vikings did. With faces forward, they eclipsed a 0-3 start with an improbable playoff push. It all started with a homecoming win against Wooster back in September. Cefalu turned the tide that night, going 25-for-32 with 424 yards as he started his own climb up the national quarterback ladder. The O line was clicking, and Kyante Wilson, Kyle Moreno and Brandon Cramer led the Vikings’ receivers.One win was on the board, but the Vikings now faced a stretch of three away games, all homecomings. Typically, homecomings are scheduled with the probable win in mind. South Tahoe may have fit that bill in past years, but the 1-3 record that this year’s team took on the road was an undersell. The Vikings became homecoming spoilers as they tore through Northern Nevada, defeating teams three times their size. South Tahoe suited up 19 against Elko’s 80, but Cefalu threw for another 443 yards as he led the team to a 41-36 win. One week later, the Vikings capped their road streak with a 50-14 win in Sparks and postseason was within reach. “These guys have done a good job of breaking through the barrier that’s been there a really long time,” Hennessee said.The boys returned home riding a four-game winning streak with Cefalu leading Nevada in passing and Wilson ranked second in receiving. The streak could easily have ended there, and it almost did. Spring Creek pushes an unstoppable running game, and they took command early. But behind Cale Backinger, the Vikings defense put the breaks on Spring Creek, and Cefalu did what he does best — found receivers. Win five belonged to the Vikings.The win would have kept the boys in playoff contention, but postseason dreams came to a halt when both Truckee and Lowry pulled off wins against undefeated teams.The Vikings five-game win streak, however, is still alive and well. Keeping the streak going against Truckee (7-1) will be no easy task. There aren’t many holes in the Wolverine program that boasted a 41- game win streak until earlier this month. “They’ve got a really good running game. They also throw the ball well. They’ve got a big tight end and their defense is physical so those are things we’re going to have to overcome,” Hennessee said.The Wolverines hold 1,895 yards rushing and have spread the majority of those yards among seven players. They have also amassed another 1,331 yards receiving, once again split among seven receivers. Tonight’s battle will be tough, no question. The Vikings will suit up their usual 19, but if ever there was a time for them to take on Truckee it’s now. The offense has put up some staggering numbers of its own this season. Cefalu owns 29 touchdowns and 2,914 yards, split between Wilson (989 yards), Cale Backinger (528 yards), Moreno (661 yards) and Cramer (556 yards). Sophomore Dylan Gardner leads the Vikings’ running game with 153 yards.“With us not making the playoffs, I think we’re approaching the game a little bit differently,” Hennesssee said. “This is it for us so we want to continue our streak. It’s showing they belong.”Either way, the Vikings will end with a winning record, and the team has ignited something in South Tahoe. “They’ve gotten kids to be interested in the program again, and the community to come out and watch them,” Hennessee said, “and it is really just attributed to their hard work.”

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