Vikings don’t mind early start, extra game | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Vikings don’t mind early start, extra game

Steve Yingling

Kicking off the season a week earlier than normal is just fine with South Tahoe football co-coach Todd McIntyre.

McIntyre’s Vikings play Galena at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Viking Bowl. The early contest was made possible by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, which is allowing teams to schedule an extra game known as the Hall of Fame Game.

“We don’t need two scrimmages,” said McIntyre, whose Vikings scrimmaged 3A power Truckee last Saturday. “You practice more or less year-round so we don’t need to go three weeks and then play a game.

“When I heard about the 10th game opportunity we tried to take advantage of it right away.”

The NIAA’s only request is that it gets $500 of the gate receipts. South Tahoe plans to earmark any excess money from gate receipts and concession sales to Support South Tahoe Athletics’ fund-raising effort.

Although the Vikings played well in the scrimmage with Truckee, McIntyre wasn’t happy with his team’s conditioning. That alone should cause the coaching staff concern considering that it was a decisive factor in the Vikings’ season-opening loss to Bishop last year. Bishop rallied from a double-digit, second-half deficit to send the Vikings to their 20th straight defeat.

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The Vikings, however, rebounded nicely to finish second in the Sierra League and advance to the regional semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Reno.

South Tahoe (7-4) snuck up on the league last year and has a shot to do it again. Nevprep.com has rated the Vikings fifth among the Sierra Division’s seven teams despite STHS returning most of their defense and exciting quarterback Mikey Van Gorden.

“Mikey wasn’t a real accurate passer last year, but he’s worked on that and he’ll be a lot better,” McIntyre said. “He’s the key … he’s about 20 pounds heavier and much faster.”

Twice-daily workouts in the offseason should bring up Van Gorden’s passing totals, even though he did throw for more than 900 yards a year ago. Seniors Spencer Dean and Randy Henson are the primary targets.

“Ever since the snow melted we’ve been out here throwing the ball around,” Van Gorden said.

The coach staff plans to utilize Van Gorden on defense and special teams as well.

The big question marks for the Vikings are finding a reliable running back to replace 2,000-yard-plus rusher Grant Swinney and how quickly a new offensive line will come together.

Senior Kyle Jones could fill the one back responsibilities, but the coaching staff has been looking at Martin Taylor as well.

Senior guard Nick Garratt (6-2, 220) is the lone returning offensive lineman. But 2003 defensive starters Nate Sweeney and J.P. Foster should be able to step in and adapt to their added line duties quickly.

“Even our linemen are pretty athletic,” Van Gorden said. “They are all pretty small, but they are pretty quick and do what they need to do to get the job done.”

As for the Grizzlies, they are trying to put a 2-7 season behind them. Even though they grabbed the final playoff berth in the High Desert League, the Grizzlies were embarrassed by Douglas 42-0 in the playoffs.

Galena struggled on offense for most of the season. The Grizzlies averaged almost four points per game in their seven defeats.

The Grizzlies have experience at running back in three-year varsity player Ben Fry, but they are callow at quarterback. Jordan Arnold, a JV quarterback last year, and Spanish Springs transfer Tony Fritsche are battling for playing time.