Vikings pumped for first real test in Elko
Elko coach Bob Milligan isn’t sure if he’s going to see the conservative version of the South Tahoe High’s spread offense or the liberal one.
The two unbeatens collide Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Elko in what could amount to a playoff preview but is little more than a division tuneup in week four.
“I’m sure whatever we’re going to see is just a progression of wanting to add to their offense in their week-to-week game plan,” said Milligan, who has coached the Indians to the 1998 zone title and 1999 zone championship game during his nine seasons. “I know they only needed to throw to (Immanuel) Williams a couple of times and hand it off to (Jake) Hurwitz a few times and that was enough to beat Reed. I’m sure that there is plenty that they will have to give to us in order to win the game.”
While the Vikings can strike quicker than a swarm of African killer bees, defenses have begun to focus on Williams and Hurwitz. Both scored on long plays last week against Fallon, but that defensive concentration allowed senior receiver Ryan Hickey to have a career-best 98 yards receiving and one touchdown.
“We can’t afford to let up and hopefully we’ll have a good game and come out on top,” said Hickey following the 31-6 win over Fallon.
Because the Vikings’ have received little resistance from defenses in wins over Sparks, Reed and Fallon and the division opener is a week away, there is reason to presume that only a portion of their explosive offense has been revealed.
“We are going to add a couple of wrinkles, not because we’re playing Elko but because of their defensive tendencies we need to do something different in order to be successful,” said Vikings coach Tim Jaureguito.
Opponents have seen Jaureguito rarely isolate Hurwitz outside with swing passes – something the 13-year STHS coach had hoped to do more often this season.
“Coach (Todd) McIntyre decides the things we need to be successful on offense and he’s been right so far, and I don’t think it will be any different this week,” Jaureguito said.
Jaureguito expects to see the Indians switch between conservative 4-4 and attacking 6-1 defensive alignments.
“We have a game plan for both,” Jaureguito said.
The Indians, who were shut out in the first half of their 21-13 triumph over Wooster last Friday, present the Vikings’ young-but-improving defense with a double-edged sword: fullback Joel Williams and running back Kyle Ecklund. From a Wing-T set, Williams piled up 140 of the Indians’ 266 rushing yards against Wooster and Ecklund had a 14-yard TD among his 30 rushing yards.
“They have exceptional backs who have great speed,” Jaureguito said. “Milligan has the total package: He has size, speed and kids who are really used to winning.”
Linebacker Ryan Griffith is anxiously awaiting the challenge.
“They’re pretty good and they fly around,” said Griffith, who made two fumble recoveries and eight tackles against Fallon. “I’m looking forward to the competition and this being a real test. They have some pretty good running backs and we just have to shut them down.”
Since surrendering 26 points against Sparks in the season opener, the Vikings’ defense has closed the holes with the return of defensive end Jason Nixon (sore hip) and the tough inside play of linebacker Garrett McIntyre.
“Our defense is really starting to mature, but their real test is Friday night,” Jaureguito said. “Defense not only wins championships, but they dictate how a game is played on the road.”
Notes: Jose Padilla, who rushed for a career-high 52 yards before injuring his knee late in last Saturday’s game, will be available if needed for Friday’s game … the Vikings are departing South Lake Tahoe by bus at 8 a.m. Friday; they will stop for a 90-minute walk-through practice at noon in Winnemucca … the Vikings and Indians haven’t met since 1996 when the Vikings won 19-0 in South Lake Tahoe and they are the only schools in the past decade that have denied Wooster and McQueen Northern Nevada zone championships … Jaureguito says Elko’s junior class has yet to lose a high school game.
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