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Here's hoping the Viking defense causes as many turnovers as the Husky defense did in the first half...
As the Vikings prepare to travel the 92 miles to Art Crate Field in Spanaway, it's time to offer a couple thoughts and provide our pick. This will be a little briefer than most picks, as we already covered Bethel in depth earlier in the week.
The Game: Lake Stevens (5-4) at Bethel (8-1)
On paper, it sure doesn't look good fro the Vikes. We've seen how Wesco teams have matched up against state powers early in district play. Bothell 61, Stanwood 0. Auburn (missing its top player) 42, Kamiak 7.
We know how the Vikings fared last year when matched up against a one-loss SPSL South squad. It was ugly. And once the injuries and inexperience across the Viking roster are figured in, it seems to be long odds for the Vikes.
But the Vikes know that. Coach Tom Tri knows they are playing with house money, and that after literally losing a full team of expected starters, that no one in their right mind would've thought the Vikes could grab second in Wesco and a playoff berth.
The Vikes looked free and easy in practice. In the film room, Coach Joe Cronin drew up a fantastic defensive scheme after analyzing hours and hours of game film. The goal: sell out to stop Braves' RB Anthony Meray, the state's second leading rusher; and force Bethel's sophomore QB to beat the Vikes with the pass.
On offense, Coach Tri dug deep into the bag of tricks. I expect to see some double passes, some end-arounds, some funky formations and an effort to get the ball in the hands of Brennan Frost, Brandon Preslar and Bryson Daggett - who will likely start at slot receiver.
If the Vikings can avoid their recent tendency of completely collapsing at the beginning of the playoff game...if the Vikes can get some points on the board early, if the Vikes can contain Meray, and limit him to under 150 yards rushing, if the Vikes can win the turnover battle by two or more, if the Vikes get huge individual performances from a few key players...
...then this one could be close in the fourth quarter. I don't feel comfortable picking the Vikes to lost. I feel there is a chance, however small, that they could pull this one out. However, let's be real. Instead of offering a pick, I'll just play Vegas oddsmaker, and install the Vikes as 20 point underdogs. In other words, pretend the Vikes are up 20-0 at the opning kick and then see who wins.
With that said, I would say there is a one in ten chance of the Vikes pulling this one out...and if they do, the bracket opens up considerably - Bethel would likely be the best team they'd face in the first three rounds.
So let's just enjoy the night and hope for the best. Be sure to check back later, as we'll be hosting a live blog covering the game as we did last week.