South Tahoe football opens season Friday versus Sparks at home |

South Tahoe football opens season Friday versus Sparks at home

South Tahoe junior co-captain Kody Griffis runs a pattern Tuesday at practice during individual receiving drills.
Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

When third-year South Tahoe head coach Louis Franklin took over the Vikings football program, he and assistant George Petties were scouting the lower levels looking at their future.

What they saw was the smallest athlete on the field playing with the biggest heart and the most passion.

Kody Griffis isn’t quite the smallest player anymore and plays large on both sides of the ball.

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior is a team leader and the coaching staff made it official by naming him a co-captain along with senior star receiver Mccallan Castles.

“He gives us everything he has,” Franklin said. “He makes no mental mistakes and does things the right way. He leads by example. He’s a no shortcut kid. We like kids that work hard and play to their potential and he does that.”

When the Vikings host Sparks Friday night in their season opener, Griffis and Castles will head to the middle of the field, along with the referees, for the coin flip. Franklin and his staff will likely add at least one captain but will wait until Thursday night — after press deadline — to decide.

After the game begins, Griffis will be on the field most of the time. He starts at receiver and free safety and was also on kickoff during Tuesday’s practice.

“Kody realized at an early age that the faster man wins,” Petties said. “He’s gonna be a big part of winning games for us this season. He’s pretty mean and you have to be mean in this sport to be successful. He’s gonna be a lot of fun to watch on Friday nights. He has a lot of lightning in a small bottle.”

Griffis, who played two seasons on junior varsity and was brought up to varsity last year for playoffs, is honored at being a team captain.

It’s a role that seems to come naturally.

During Tuesday’s practice, a receiver new to the drills told Petties, the receivers/defensive backs coach, he wasn’t sure what to do. Before Petties answered, Griffis held his teammate accountable and responded, “Why? Weren’t you paying attention?”

“Kody is probably the most committed guy on the field,” Castles said. “He goes really hard in practice, he studies real hard and is more advanced than the rest of the younger guys. It has definitely made a couple of guys step up their game if they want to earn a captain spot.”

Griffis is ready for the 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, kickoff.

“I’ve put in a lot of work to get better and I’m excited that all the hard work has paid off,” Griffis said.

The Vikings will take on the Railroaders, a team that has won just seven games in the past six seasons (7-50), but have a new coach for the 2017 campaign and just finished playing the defending 2A champs, Pershing County, tough, losing 18-8.

Franklin is looking for his Vikings to spark another postseason run like last year. He doesn’t want the program to be a “one-hit wonder.”

“They have a new coach with new energy and they are competing,” Franklin said. “They made some mistakes last week that are easily fixable so we have to prepare like they will play a clean game.”

The Railroaders (0-1) run the spread offense and they also go to the full house backfield and try to play to their strengths, their offensive and defensive lines.

The Vikings will try to play fast using the no-huddle offense and try to attack the Sparks defense.

“We can’t make mental mistakes, and we need to play well and tackle them,” Franklin said. “We expect our kids to be perfect gentlemen in the community and classroom, but to be Vikings on the football field.”

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