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Revamped Vikings next up for L-E

Posted: October 16, 2014 3:10 p.m.
Updated: October 17, 2014 1:00 a.m.
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DAKOTA JONES ... L-E linebacker

Their offensive numbers may not be as gaudy and they may not have a nationally ranked recruit, but don’t think that the Spring Valley squad which will host Lugoff-Elgin tonight is not dangerous.

Under new and former head coach Jerry Brown, the Vikings are off to a 4-3 start, which are two more losses than they had a season ago when SV steamrolled opponents in ripping off 12 straight victories to open the season before losing to eventual state champion Dutch Fork in the second round of the state playoffs.

While some of the faces have changed along Sparkleberry Lane, interim L-E head coach Dave Thomas said plenty has remained the same for the Vikings.

"They did have some superstars last year and they don’t have quite that this year," Thomas said with current Alabama freshman and 2014 SV graduate Christian Miller headlining that group. "They’ve been shuffling different quarterbacks in because of injury. So, it’s similar but not as deep as last year’s group."

After a 1-1 start to the season, the Vikings ripped off consecutive victories over Richland Northeast, Irmo and South Aiken. Beset by injuries at quarterback, they struggled the past two weeks with a 21-7 loss to White Knoll being followed by last week’s 15-12 defeat at the hands of Blythewood.

Don’t expect Thomas and the Demons to be shedding any tears for tonight’s hosts. L-E is looking for its first win of the season and is coming off a 49-7 setback against unbeaten Westwood last Friday night. In that game, the Demons trailed, 21-7, at halftime. Things could have been closer had it not been for a pair of L-E turnovers which turned into 14 Redhawk points.

L-E was unable to recover from the miscues while the hosts righted the ship in the second 24 minutes to close the game with 28 unanswered points. That being said, Thomas said he was hardly disappointed with his team’s play in that contest.

"After the game last Friday," he said, "I told them I was pleased with their effort. Certainly, the first half went a little better than I expected, except for the turnovers which ended up in points for them.

"Westwood has a good football team and you need to give them credit for playing hard. In the first half, it didn’t look like they were firing on all cylinders and I’m sure at halftime, they got some things corrected and they wore us down in the third quarter."

The Demons went with two quarterbacks calling the signals last week in junior Gunnar Catoe and senior Keyshawn Martin. Thomas said both had their strong points which led to the L-E coaching staff using last weekend and this week to have discussions as to how to approach the quarterback situation.

"We talked about that as a coaching staff about seeing where we were as to who was doing what in the backfield," Thomas said of having dual quarterbacks. "Gunnar did a great job running the football and leading for us. Keyshawn came in and did a good job throwing the football. That will probably be something that we look at going forward in these next four games; using both of them a little more."

As the L-E staff watched the film from last week’s game, Thomas said it was not all doom and gloom but a defense which was on the field for long stretches of time in the second half.

"There were a lot of good things that we saw last week," Thomas said. "Defensively, we played well. They caught us in some situations and wore us down in the second half. Offensively, we have to execute better. I know that’s something I’ve said over and over again, but that’s just where we are."

Tonight at Harry Parone Stadium, when the L-E offense lines up to take the snap, they will face a four-man front from Spring Valley which will sit and read rather than bring pressure from the outside, as Westwood did.

"Spring Valley is going to be more vanilla,

 

they won’t do anything tricky," Thomas said of a unit which allows opponents 17 points per game. "What you see is what you are going to get from them."

Offensively, Viking quarterback Ryan Lee is the team’s X factor, if healthy. An athlete whom Brown compares favorably to current San Francisco 49er wide receiver Bruce Ellington, who Brown coached at Berkeley High, Lee ran for 206 yards on nine carries and threw for another in a 56-35 win over South Aiken.

"Offensively, it’s like we’re playing ourselves," Thomas said of his defense and its preparing for Spring Valley. "They are going to line up in the flexbone and run the option, the toss sweep and the trap, which is what we do, as well. It’s something we practice against all year so, I hope that’s something that we can take advantage of."

Like the Demons, SV has had trouble holding onto the ball the past two weeks. Thomas hopes that trend continues for the Vikings, but is not banking on that happening.

"They’ve struggled the past couple weeks with turning the ball over of course, we have, too," he said. "But they’re very athletic, they block well on the offensive line and their defense plays sound football."

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