Viking seniors covet that first win |

Viking seniors covet that first win

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

A 19-game losing streak and a coaching change.

Those two factors may lead the rest of the Northern Nevada 4A League to believe that the South Tahoe High Vikings will be the area punching bag in 2003.

Shoehorned into a forest of pine trees, the school has the edge of seclusion. Consequently, few opponents know how hard the Vikings worked in the offseason to change their image.

“Everybody thinks South Tahoe is just an easy win,” said Viking senior receiver Colin Griffin. “We’re going to be out there to surprise some people this year and if they do win, it’s not gonna be an easy win.”

Like the team’s other 13 seniors, Griffin has yet to experience a high school football victory.

“All it does is make my passion for winning that much stronger,” he said. “That’s why this year everyone has been working hard. We get it drilled in our head every day about years past.”

Still, first-year coach Todd McIntyre, who really isn’t a rookie coach at all since he has been with the program since 1989, doesn’t know how the collection of winless players will respond.

“It’s hard to tell sometimes. I don’t know what it’s like to be 0-27. I don’t know what they think about,” said McIntyre, who coached a Viking junior varsity squad that won six of nine games last year. “In the back of their minds they must have doubts, but I know they are trying hard.”

Certainly the Vikings have the ingredients to make fans forget the dysfunctional program that existed last year. Different philosophies on accountability and work ethic divided the varsity and JV programs last year and caused former Wolf Pack quarterback Eric Beavers to surrender the varsity post.

Beavers worked side by side with McIntyre and a hard-working junior varsity group last year and will return to varisty this season as defensive coordinator. The program is no longer fractured as McIntyre stepped forward to take a job he has been reluctant to assume in the past.

“He knows what he’s talking about and everybody listens to him and knows he can lead us to victory if we do what we’re told,” Griffin said.

The largest offensive line McIntyre has seen at the school, a Michael Vick-like quarterback and the coaching staff’s focus on the defensive unit give the Vikings reason to believe that the goose egg will come off the scoreboard this season.

“I think we’ve prepared them and I think they are ready to play as they have ever been,” McIntyre said.

If junior quarterback Mikey Van Gorden makes a quick transition from JV to varsity football, the Vikings could have defenses backpedalling. Easing Van Gorden’s adjustment period will be an experienced offensive line that includes 235-pound senior Renne Rodriguez; senior Chris Thorne, 265; senior Adam Fountain, 275, senior Justin McIntyre, 240; senior Jose Rodriguez, 190; and junior Nick Garratt, 220.

Veteran running back Grant Swinney and a deep pool of receivers led by Daniel Gomez, Kevin Capellino and Griffin give the Vikings quick-strike ability.

Players to watch on defense are lineman McIntyre and Oscar Moreno; linebackers Giesen, Garratt and Troy Radke; and defensive backs Ryan Kraw, Eric Domingo, Haven Wilvers and Bryan Finkel.

The Vikings go to work on putting the past behind them on Saturday when Bishop visits Viking Bowl. They have done their homework and are counting on some significant dividends.

“This year we’re all about business and getting the job done,” Griffin said. “It’s been crazy with nonstop lifting, working out and chalk talk. Hopefully it’s all gonna pay off.”

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