RIPLEY – Slowly but surely, the Ripley Viking football team is rounding into form as they continue with summer workouts.  Earlier this week, they began 7-0n-7 drills, culminating in Friday’s scrimmage against traditional Class A power Wahama at Death Valley (Memorial Stadium).  Although it’s early on in the summer season, and only so much can be ascertained in helmets and shorts, Viking head coach David Tennant was nonetheless impressed with his team’s effort on both sides of the ball.

“Honestly, we were a lot more intense,” Tennant said after Friday’s scrimmage, “We were physical.  We were intense.”

That said, Tennant still saw some room for improvement.

“We do have to work on the little things,” Tennant added, “Route running, we have to be sharper, everybody has to run full speed.  For the most part, we were in the right spots.  They’re doing what they’re supposed to do.  If we can get them to do what they are supposed to do all the time, we’ll be alright.”

Senior running back Jake Martin shined on offense for the Vikes, catching passes and making plays out of the backfield.  Martin, who missed all of last season with a knee injury suffered in early August, showed no hesitancy in making cuts to get yards after the catch, and demonstrated why he will be a focal point on offense this season.

Above all, though, Tennant and his staff are working with the players to change their attitudes.  This includes making sure to celebrate big plays and for the rest of the teammates to acknowledge the player who made the play with plenty of helmet taps and high fives.  Sometimes building a program includes the small things, too.  

“I was most encouraged by our physical play,” Tennant said, “I know it was a 7-on-7, but those receivers coming across were worried.  In a game, that’s what you want.  You want them worried about what’s to come if they do catch the ball.”

Tennant believes that physical play will be one of the keys to his team’s success in 2014, so he was obviously pleased with their performance on Friday.

“I believe we’re going to be a lot more physical than last year,” Tennant added, “I think that is going to translate into really good things.”

At this point, there is still much work to be done.  Workouts and drills will continue for the next several weeks for the Vikings. The coaching staff has put forth a simple directive for the team: get better every day.  As Tennant was quick to point out, that includes every single player on the roster.

“We’ve got to get more people ready,” Tennant said, “We have a few players that are really stepping up, but we need other guys to push them.  We’re only going to get better if there’s competition at every position.  Our goal is to prepare every single person we can and then the best person gets on the field.”

With their first 7-on-7 scrimmage completed, the Vikings are now looking for more competition to take their team to the next level.  They’ll have their chance next week, when they travel to Cabell Midland High School for an 11 team 7-on-7 tournament.  Undoubtedly, the Vikings will be put to the test, but they will have the opportunity to find out where they stack up early on with some of the area’s best squads.

“It’s going to be a lot of competition, but that’s how you build a team,” concluded Tennant, “You go against the best to become the best.”