RIPLEY – At this time one year ago, the Ripley Vikings were beginning a new era.  Then, they met the Parkersburg South Patriots in the 2013 season opener and watched as the Patriots racked up huge yardage on the ground with running back Brendan Schwendeman and erased an eleven point halftime deficit en route to a 47-35 victory to spoil the first game of the David Tennant era with the Vikings.  This year, the Vikings once again find themselves facing off with Parkersburg South to open their season.  But this time, the Vikings are one year older and hopefully one year wiser.

“They seem more focused,” Tennant said of his players’ mentality as they go through game week, “We have everybody back, and I believe that’s building a little confidence in the rest of the guys.”  Tennant went on to mention that the decision to hold back some players during scrimmages and practice may have set his team back in terms of momentum, but they will go into week 1 healthy.
During practice this week, Tennant stated that his team was going to use each day to get used to playing together as a unit.
“We’re going pop.  We’re going to fly around,” Tennant said of his players, “We want to get everybody used to playing with each other so that when we go up against South, we put forth the best game possible.”
While team chemistry is certainly important on the field, the addition of several freshmen players will fill out the roster and give the Vikings some sorely needed depth.
“Everybody’s available,” Tennant said, “There’s going to be some freshmen playing on Friday.  As they should be.  If you’re ready to play and we think you can help us win this football game, you’re going to be on the field.”
As for the Vikings’ offensive game plan for South, it’s fairly simple: put points on the board.
“We have to score points,” Tennant said, “Game plan wise, we’re going to put the ball in the hands of our athletes and let them make plays.”
On the other side of the ball, the Viking defense is no doubt looking to make up for last season’s showing.  They know it won’t be easy, as they realize what South’s attack can do if they find defenders out of position.. Tennant and his staff have emphasized the importance of positioning for his defenders, but above all else, want them flying to the ball.
Schematically, the Patriots employ several different formations and try to keep the defense off balance, something that the Viking defense must be prepared for.

“They run a lot of formations trying to put us in bad situations,” Tennant said of the Patriot offense, “You can’t focus on one, because they’ll hit you with another.  We’re focusing on stopping everything.”
Overall, there is belief among the Viking players and coaches.  
While the Vikings are certainly itching to get out on the field and get the season started, the coaching staff has the task of keeping them focused on playing their absolute best–which is to say, playing together as a team.
“I want to see this team come together and put the best football game possible out there,” said Tennant, referencing what he wants to see out of his team on Friday night, “I want to see them play as a team, trust each other, and fly to the ball.  Last year, they weren’t confident, they weren’t flying to the ball.  I want to see everything we’ve worked for all summer, all through two-a-days up until now, I want to see them come together and play a great game.”
Kickoff is scheduled for Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in Parkersburg.