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The Pick: Vikings over Spartans
It's been a rollercoaster three weeks for the Vikings. The season starts with Coach Kyle Bigham collapsing - clinically dead - on the sidelines during the National Anthem of the season opener. The coach is rushed off to the hospital, and the Vikes fall behind 21-0 in the blink of an eye.
However, it's nothing more than a gut check for the Purple and Gold, as they roar past Mariner on the strength of a 33-0 surge, winning on the road 36-34.
With Bigham in the hospital awaiting heart surgery, the Vikings traveled to the always intimidating Veterans Memorial Stadium in Snohomish, to battle the somewhat-less-intimidating Glacier Peak Grizzlies. Over 100 yards in penalties, some shoddy special teams and blitz pick-up, coupled with two long TD's called back keep this one from turning into a blow out. However, the Vikes win easily, and QB Nick Baker begins what should be a season-long assault on the record books in the 35-21 victory that wasn't as close as the score would indicate.
The Stanwood game plan was handed out Monday (Coach Tri gave me a copy, but my dad recycled it!), and the week of preparation was cut short by the impending Kyle Bigham auction to be held at the LSHS cafeteria. A storm of media (by LS standards at least) descended upon the Vikings, and with the auction in the forefront, it would be understandable if the Vikes suffered through a shoddy practice or two.
Now, it's gameday, and with the auction in the rearview mirror, with over $30K raised, and with Coach Biggs back on his feet, the focus can return to the football field - where the Vikings open their home and conference schedule against the Stanwood Spartans (0-1).
A Closer Look at Stanwood:
The Spartans are a young team, and they have faced adversity as well. Last week, their game was canceled after a Spartan player developed a brain bruise and was airlifted to Harborview. The player has since been released from the hospital.
The Spartans return four starters from last year's 3-7 squad, including All Wesco C/LB Tom Enquist. Stanwood was primarily a sophomore team last year, and they are junior-class heavy this season.
When the Spartans have the ball, they throw a variety of looks at the opponent. They work out of shotgun and I formations, and tend to run the ball quite a bit - at least in past years. This year, they haven't been that successful on the ground. Junior RB Ben Zipp (nice football name!) leads the team with a measly 26 yards on eleven carries.
Through the air, the Spartans are led by Junior QB Michael McCune. McCune is 12-19 passing for 91 yards thus far, with no TD's or INT's.
On defense, Head Coach Dick Abrams loves to scheme. He may throw out a 4-4-3, he may try a 5-2-4, he may have all of his players spin around in circles prior to the snap in what is known as a "bumblebee radar defense". I'm serious!
All of this is an attempt to find something that works, and when Abrams finds something that works - whether on offense or defense - he keeps calling that play until the opponent proves they can stop it.
A Closer Look at the Vikings:
When the Vikings have the ball, we all know what the story is. They are going to tear ass up and down the field in the no-huddle spread offense under the command of Tom Tri and QB Nick Baker.
The five play, 80-yard drive in less than three minutes has become the Viking hallmark. Look for some screen plays early to relieve pressure on Baker, and as the defense adjusts, the Vikes may look down the seam to WR/TE Eric Huswick and deep to WR Colton Tupen. It's really not out of the question for Baker to improve on last week's numbers.
Also, if RB Bo Dickinson's knee is feeling good, the Vikes may look for more ways to get the ball in the hands of the electric #24. Dickinson has been deadly in the open field, and leads the team with five touchdowns.
On defense, the Vikes will likely stick with a 3-4 base formation, predicated on the strength at the point of attack personified byAll Wesco DT Dylan Youngblood. Youngblood occupies two and sometimes three blockers, allowing shifty MLB Jacob Huddle (#51!!!) to pile up gaudy tackle numbers. The Vikes are strong in the secondary, and can afford to single cover in an effort to pressure the pocket and the line of scrimmage.
Last night was an emotional night for the Vikes, and the community showed the program just how much they love Viking football. Tonight is the home opener, and coming on the heels of an auction that attracted nearly1,000 folks, I am expecting a sellout and then some at Viking Stadium. The crowd will be raucous, the Vikes will be beyond pumped, and it will be Tom Tri and his staff's job to make sure that the Vikings stay grounded early. Should the Vikes channel their emotions properly, this will be a fun one to watch for the Vikings faithful.
I am predicting a healthy win for the Purple and Gold. The Vikes take it - breaking the 40 point mark for the first time this season - in a 42-10 victory.