Vikings discover defense against powerful Colts
Most prep football teams look for consolation when they play Northern Nevada League juggernaut Wooster.
What else is there to play for?
South Tahoe was one those teams trying to identify something encouraging in a lopsided loss to the Colts. Unable to generate any offensive rhythm against a scheming Wooster defense, the Vikings found inspiration in their defensive effort in a 32-6 loss Saturday in South Lake Tahoe.
“I thought Tahoe’s defense stepped it up. They were on a mission. The scoreboard didn’t show it because we got the big plays, but they were in there hammering us real good up front,” said Wooster coach Joe Sellers, who picked up his 209th career victory with his Colts’ division-opening win.
Ripped in recent weeks for their inability to tackle anybody, the Viking defense eased their coaches’ concerns with perhaps their best performance of the season. Only 13 points were actually scored against the defense; the other 19 were set up by offensive miscues.
“Our defense came out and did a much better job. We really made some improvement and that was our primary goal for this week,” said Viking coach Tim Jaureguito, whose squad fell to 2-2 overall, including 0-2 in division.
Added defensive line coach Scott Moss, “We didn’t know what we were going to see up until (Saturday) morning. We stepped up to another level as far as our aggressiveness and our physical play.”
Because of their poor form, the Vikings went back to fundamental tackling last week in practice.
“We worked on trying to tackle low and take their legs away, whereas, we’ve been tackling high and they have been getting four or five yards after we make contact,” Jaureguito said.
The Vikings couldn’t have picked a worse time for their first fumble of the season – on the second play from scrimmage. Wooster linebacker Steve Robinson pounced on Bryan Marino’s cough drop at the Viking 30.
“You never want a fumble to happen, but we wanted to get out there and play because we worked hard all week,” said Viking linebacker Richie McGuffin.
Five plays later, the Colts went to their power playbook and sent J.J. Stallings up the middle on a dive play, resulting in a 26-yard touchdown run.
South Tahoe’s only defensive lapse came late in the first quarter when running back Josh James darted up the middle for a 74-yard touchdown run on another of the Colts’ predictable dive plays.
“All they pretty much do is come right at you up the middle. It’s pretty easy to prepare for, but the thing is you have to step up and make the play,” said Corey Martin, a Viking tight end, linebacker and special teams player.
Kicker Jeremy Burke tacked on the extra point and booted 37- and 40-yard second-quarter field goals as Wooster opened a 20-0 bulge at the break. Burke’s first field goal followed a fumbled punt at the Viking 25.
“You have to play error-free football whenever you play Wooster or McQueen. We made so many mistakes. We dropped a punt and we worked on on blitz pickup every day since we started and I don’t know how many times we missed a linebacker on the blitz,” said Jaureguito, whose quarterback was sacked six times.
South Tahoe could have made a game of it early in the second quarter but failed to convert on third and inches at the Wooster 15. The Colts’ defensive front wrapped up Tim Sprinkles and Marino for no gain on each attempt.
“You just don’t get two downs to pick up six inches and not pick it up,” Jaureguito said. “That was huge. The score was 14-0 and we score there and we’re right back in the game. I attribute that completely to the offensive line’s play.”
Only the scintillating kickoff returns of John Giannoni brought the Viking fans out of their seats in the first half.
Giannoni, making his debut after transferring from Lodi, Calif., returned three kickoffs for 104 yards, including a 62-yarder in the second quarter.
South Tahoe avoided a shutout when Martin outmuscled a Colts defender on a 15-yard strike from Sprinkles on fourth down midway through the final period.
“We ran a similar play earlier that I was open on, but Timmy got sacked. I saw Tim running, so I started running with him, thinking to myself, ‘Timmy, just throw it up and I’ll catch it.’ I knew in my heart I was going to catch that ball, no matter what happened,” said Martin, who has six touchdown receptions in four games.
Sprinkles ran for his life most of the afternoon as the Colts repeatedly stunted and blitzed. With little time to spot a receiver, Sprinkles only completed six passes for 54 yards. Viking tailback Bryan Marino compiled 50 of his 60 rushing yards after intermission.
“We had to change up a little bit from what we normally do. We changed some fronts and coverages on him. You’re trying to get pressure in the middle, yet you still have to be able to contain the perimeter,” Sellers said.
Wooster’s JV buried STHS, 56-20, even though Viking quarterback Sean Kezer tossed three touchdown passes. Jason Rogers caught two TDs and Ryan Griffith caught one.
STHS’s JV is 1-3.
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