Suiting up: South Tahoe football breaks out shoulder pads during two-a-days
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — In the midst of two-a-day practices, the South Tahoe football team is continuing to make strides toward its 2015 campaign. The Vikings put on shoulder pads for the first time in camp Thursday, just more than two weeks out from their season opener.
“It’s the first day of pads and everything is new,” Vikings head coach Louis Franklin said. “There were lots of mental mistakes — once we clean those up, we’re going to be okay. We’re progressing in the right way.”
In helmets, shoulder pads and shorts, South Tahoe began its fourth straight day of two-a-days Thursday morning at Viking Stadium. This week, the Vikings have dedicated morning practices to offense and evening sessions to defense — on both sides of the ball, the focus has been on intensity and effort.
“I saw some of it — it’s just making sure that’s contagious and that it’s positive,” Franklin said.
While continuing installation of a triple option, spread offense, South Tahoe focused on its running game while upping the physicality during Thursday’s practice. The team session featured mostly runs and screen passes, with only a handful of throws beyond the line of scrimmage.
“We’re installing more of the playbook and the kids are thinking a little bit more — we’ll probably stop installation now and just focus on getting fast again,” Franklin said. “That’s the problem when you start putting stuff in — they start slowing down. We want them to go fast.”
In addition to quarterbacks Mason Cain and Tommy Cefalu, a variety of Vikings’ skill players got involved in the ground game. Running backs Quinn Ritter and Dylan Gooding got a majority of the touches in the backfield, while receivers Will Mori, Zach Shearer and Noah Jackson also received carries.
“There’s big play potential on every snap — I like the skill guys we have and the line is coming together pretty good,” Franklin said. “We just try to spread the field and find one-on-one matchups that we like. We have good receivers and what we’re really trying to focus on is the run game — we need to get that physicality and the attitude that we don’t quite have yet.”
Cain and Cefalu rotated in offensively in two-play stretches during the team offense session. While South Tahoe won’t huddle during the season, it did during Thursday’s practice and ran two plays back-to-back with Franklin counting down from 10 seconds between each.
“They’re not used to tempo, and after a play is over they need to start thinking about the next one,” said Franklin, adding that the Vikings will run three plays out of the huddle starting Friday.
Defensively, South Tahoe has run an odd front during camp with an emphasis on bringing pressure. No matter what scheme defensive coordinator Greg Ritter has the Vikings line up in this season, the plan is for the unit to play fast.
“We’re very aggressive and kids are flying around — the effort and attitude has been better,” Franklin said. “The main focus on defense has been getting guys used to running to the ball, helping each other out and just making sure we know our assignments and executing them.”
The Vikings currently have a roster of 37, and Franklin said he expects the full complement next week after players finish their summer jobs. That number would make South Tahoe’s 2015 team nearly twice the size of last year’s.
“The numbers have been better, and everyone is excited about it,” Franklin said.
South Tahoe continues two-a-day practices through Tuesday, with a day off on Sunday. The Vikings scrimmage Rio Linda (Calif.) on the road Saturday, Aug. 22 with their season opener a week later at Viking Stadium against El Dorado (Placerville, Calif.).
“We’re going to focus on ourselves and get everyone on film — everyone gets opportunities to play,” Franklin said of the scrimmage. “It’s a good measuring stick for the season opener.”
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