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Thursday Practice Week Nine from Kevin Hulten on Vimeo.
I feel old. How else can I explain my need to tell the Viking players to "enjoy the moment". Or Enjoy the Voyage, as they prefer to say. It all goes so fast. One day you're lining up for the opening kick, the next day you've got a wife, three kids and a pretty nice timeshare in Chelan. Or so I've heard.
It's one of those nights where those of us who are no longer teenagers hope that those of us who are truly live in the now. A stormy fall night. A rivalry. The last game of the regular season. Playoff assignments on the line. The chance to knock a hated rival out of the playoffs in front of their home crowd...on Halloween. Really...what more could you want?
We took a First Look at the Snohomish Panthers here, so instead of rehashing in this post, just follow the link. Let's talk Viking football:
Viking Players to Watch:
ILB/P Blake LeHuquet (SR, #55) - The senior from Alaska will get his chance - he's performed admirably as a long snapper and a special teamer. Tonight, he'll start at inside linebacker and punter. How Blake responds to the challenge will have a big impact on tonight's game.
FB/SS/KR Bo Dickinson (SR, #24) - Forget what you read in the Times, Bo will start tonight at SS and FB. I also saw him take a kickoff to the house in practice yesterday. Maybe the ankle injury gave him the time he needed to rest his broken back (!). It's time for senior leaders to step up, and the smart money says Dickinson will.
CB/WR Colton Tupen (SR, #3) - Tupen will be counted on to stuff the run more than usual as the Panthers pass once every millenia - but when they do, it will be Colton wh stand between the receiver and a long completion. I also feel like we still haven't seen a breakout performance from the player that most consider to be the most athletic Viking.
ILB/WR Trevor Riecks (SR, #41) - Trevor is one short of tying the season TD reception record and will move to inside linebacker tonight on D tonight.
K Arvid Isaksen (JR, #6) - The junior kicker/point guard is really coming along. Witness the video above of Arvid banging a 45 yarder through the uprights (with at least five yards to spare) to end practice yesterday. We also expect big things from this multi-talented athlete in the skill-position department next season.
CB/K/FB Brennan Frost (JR, #23) - Frost will get significant reps at DB, will kickoff, might punt, and will serve as a backup FB. The fastest player on the team (or so I'm told) is also one of the most versatile.
When the Vikings have the ball -
We know the format by now. The Vikings have the best passing game this side of Prosser, and Tri is never afraid to use it. Baker and the receivers proved that bad weather is no deterrent to the air attack when they hung 49 on Jackson. The wildcard - Dickinson is back, and he is out for blood. He looked like a caged tiger all week at practice.
When the Vikings are on D -
It will be a four man front with four backers behind tonight...look for hard-hitting Chameron Lackey to play closer to the line and S Brandon Preslar to play centerfield over the top. Run supporting DB's like J.J. McCarthy will often be the difference between a three yard gain and a breakaway, so sure tackling is a must. The Vikings will load up to stop the run - because the Panthers have no where else to turn - having passed just seven times in the last two games.
We're all sick of the slow starts, but no one is more upset about it than Coach Tom Tri and his players. Coming off one of the most energetic and positive practices of the season, the Vikings know that if they strike early and often, the Panthers will struggle, as they are not built to play from behind. That said, the Vikings could easily fall into their old habits. A slow start coupled with a turnover or two and some mental lapses could give the Panthers a lead, and once they start pounding away on the ground, the clock keeps running and the game gets pretty short.
The Vikings are looking at tonight as a home game. They expect a big, boisterous crowd, and they know that if they win tonight, Veterans Memorial will truly be their homefield next week, as they'll play host to the Narrows League #3 seed.
The Pick -
I have a really good feeling about tonight. We haven't seen the Vikings hit on all cylinders yet this year. We've seen them play excellent for as much as three quarters as a time - but never for the whole game. Their isn't a whole lot of mystery to tonight's game. The Vikes know what the Panthers are going to do, and vice versa. It's a rivalry game, and playoff implications are thick. Both teams are going to want it. If it comes down to talent, the Vikings will win. If Lake has a mental lapse or two and a slow start, it could be a long night. I just don't see that happening tonight. We like the Vikings to put on a show - Lake takes it, 35-20 over a game Snohomish squad.