Vikings look to regain their swagger |

Vikings look to regain their swagger

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune

South Tahoe High missing the boys’ soccer playoffs is like Peyton Manning not doing a DirectTV Sunday Ticket commercial before the NFL season.

Being left out of the postseason isn’t something that the Vikings want to become customary. After missing the postseason for the first time in more than a decade last year, the Vikings are determined to restore some of their reputation.

The Vikings, who last year finished fifth in a rugged Sierra Division with a 6-8 record, won the Nevada state championship in 2005 and have been a Northern 4A regional finalist in three of the past six years.

“I don’t know what other schools have, but this year I feel a lot more comfortable,” said STHS coach Chris DeLeon. “With the combination of a consistent coaching staff and a more mature squad compared to last year, I think we could have a pretty good outcome.”

DeLeon is excited about the versatility that his players bring to the field.

“They can play different roles,” DeLeon said. “There’s pretty serious competition for each position. If they want playing time, they can’t be a specialty player.”

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The Vikings are counting on seniors Tanner Braun and Ricky Braun to lead the defense. Ricky may also play at midfield, as will sophomore Evan Sanchez.

“We have depth at all positions,” Tanner Braun said. “It looks like we’re returning most of our starting defense from last year, and we picked up a few more players, so we should be pretty deep as far as the defensive area.”

South Tahoe will have a number of playmakers at forward, including sophomore Edgar Hernandez, junior Kory DiGrande, junior Kyle Wallace and sophomore Ryan Caro. Hernandez came up from the JV late last season and gave the Vikings some additional firepower, and DiGrande has been on the varsity since late in his freshman season when the Vikings made a run to the state semifinals.

“It depends on what formation we are going to play. We may have three forward spots, maybe only two,” DeLeon said.

High-scoring Cody Williams, a junior transfer from Whittell High, may also fit into the Vikings’ playing mix, but DeLeon says it is too early to tell.

DeLeon is pleased to announce that his coaching staff has remained in tact. Jim Pawling and Rafael Aguirre will tend to the JV team, while DeLeon will be assisted by longtime staff member Ed McClain and former Carson coach Jim Nealis.

“We have a really good staff,” DeLeon said. “This consistency allows us to break things down and work with the players on defense, midfield and goalie.”

Tanner Braun said the team is determined to return the program to a level South Tahoe soccer fans have come to expect.

“Last season definitely left bitter tastes in our mouths,” Tanner Braun said. “This year, we have a lot more experience and a lot of returners to varsity. We want to get on a playoff track and get back to where we were as a program.”

For a Vikings team schedule, pick up the print version of the Tribune on Friday.