South Tahoe football looks to build on success in 2017 season |

South Tahoe football looks to build on success in 2017 season

J.P. Kelsey
At a practice Thursday afternoon, South Tahoe head football coach Louis Franklin discusses with the players where they have strength and where work still needs to be done. The Vikings begin their season at home, Aug. 25.
J.P. Kelsey/ Tahoe Daily Tribune |

The South Tahoe Viking football program is less than two weeks away from its Aug. 25 season opener against Salt Lake City’s Skyline High.

The Vikings are coming off of a winning season, having gone 9-3, overall, in 2016 and 7-2 in league play. STHS head coach Louis Franklin will be going into his third season with the Vikings and said he has plans to keep sculpting the program. Prior to Franklin arriving at South Tahoe in 2015, the Vikings football program had been in a slump — going 2-8, overall, in 2014. After a little improvement in 2015, Franklin led the 2016 Vikings to their first playoff appearance in several years.

Although the program lost some key players, like QB Tommy Cefalu, Franklin said the team has the depth to ensure a smooth transition into another season. “We’ve got a lot of guys on defense coming back,” said Franklin. “I feel like we also have the best quarterback in the league coming back, the best D-line coming back — it’s just putting all the pieces together around that.”

Although this season’s starting QB, senior Payton Galli, has some big shoes to fill, he was able to show he had what it took last year when he took over for an injured Cefalu. As backup, Galli threw for a total of 848 yards and managed 11 passing touchdowns. Galli also came through in the clutch against Truckee at the state finals. He led the Vikings to victory over the Wolverines and an advance to the third round of the NIAA 3A state championship playoff.

Franklin said that heading into game one he’s working on getting the team playing as error-free as possible, saying that if the team can avoid self-imposed mistakes, they can be the best in the league. “We’re still making a few of those silly mistakes that can kill us,” said Franklin. “If we can eliminate that by the season, we can let the other team self-implode and we can work on making plays.”

A lot of these inconsistencies are a result of the preseason learning curve that comes with new plays and shifts in the program, according to Franklin. “Right now, everyone is just learning playbooks,” said Franklin. “It’s new to them so we have some wrinkles. We’ve also expanded the offense so we’re really just trying to build on what we did last year, offensively, but add some new things.”

Franklin will have his work cut out for him with the rest of the offense. Most of the top rushers graduated — including Jacob Burnell, who was responsible for 956 of the 1,624 yards South Tahoe had accumulated. Franklin said he’s got some guys that have really improved since last season and that the playing time they’ll get this year should be able to help them settle into their roles as team leaders.

On defense, there will be some key players returning to help the offense stay on top of the scoreboard. Seniors Jackson Binns and Matt Cain were two of the top athletes at defensive tackle and cornerback, respectively. Cain was hanging with the seniors last year, having accumulated 54 solo tackles, while Binns had 46.

Franklin said the schedule they face is always a tough one and they have their eye on some of the same teams that gave them trouble last year. “It’s going to be the same top guys,” said Franklin. “Fallon, Truckee, Sprink Creek and Elko — we’ve got to take the big dogs out, one by one.”

Overall, Franklin said his guys have been putting in the work and are hungry to get on the field and build on the success they had last year. “We’re a team that plays with a lot of effort,” said Franklin. “They have a good attitude and play the game the right way to the best of their abilities.” The South Tahoe football program is currently raising funds for equipment and other items needed for the team. Contact South Tahoe High at 530-541-4111 for more information.

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