Vikings bitten by inconsistency

Published 11:35 am Tuesday, November 8, 2011

When quarterback Chase Ladd’s desperation heave at the end of regulation against Jim Hill was batted away, Warren Central’s disappointing 2011 season finally came to an end.

It wasn’t so much what it was, but what it could’ve been. The Vikings (1-10, 1-6 Region 2-6A) lost five of their games by six points or less, but were still alive in the playoff chase until the second to last week of the season.

The devil for the Vikings was inconsistency in all phases. They’d would have a good quarter offensively, moving the ball until undone by ill-timed penalties or turnovers. The defense kept the Vikings within striking distance, but a mistake on a big play turned close games into routs.

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“I can’t explain it,” WC coach Josh Morgan said. “We’ve gotten a lot of breaks that we haven’t caught this year. We’ve got a big challenge to get our program back to where it’s supposed to be. It’s going to be a process.”

With smallish lines on both sides of the ball, the Vikings were frequently unable to exert their will late to win tight ballgames. The Vikings averaged around 240 pounds on the offensive line and they were often outweighed by 20-30 pounds per man. An offseason spent in WC’s new weight room is a must for the Vikings to take a big leap next season.

But there were strong points. The offense, under new coordinator Rob Morgan, showed progress after last season’s debacle. It averaged 16.6 points per game, a five-point improvement from last year.

Wide receiver Kourey Davis established himself as an electric pass catcher. With an offseason of seasoning, some better route running and some more muscle, Davis could easily be one of the best players in the state next season. He caught 26 passes for 644 yards and eight touchdowns.

The Vikings also found a young trio of running backs that have the potential to be formidable. Aaron Stamps, a sophomore, led the team with 677 yards and six touchdowns. Freshman Curtis Ross (224 yards, one touchdown) and junior Greg King (212 yards, one touchdown) gave the WC offense a good change of pace behind Stamps.

Offensively, the Vikings will have to replace one-year starter Ladd at quarterback and a few linemen, but will return the rest of their skill position players.

Defensively, the Vikings were young, with eight underclassmen starting, and looked the part, giving up 31.2 points per game. With the exception of safety Bill McRight and linebacker Tyler Comans, the rest of the defense will return next season.

But last Friday, the coaching staff got a preview of what could be. They brought up Chris Stamps from the junior varsity team and he had a great game with a fumble recovery and a big interception on the goalline.

“He’s got the potential to be a very fine player,” Josh Morgan said. “We threw him out there at cornerback, asked him to make some plays and he came up with a fumble recovery, a big interception and caught a pass there at the end that put us in a position to win the game.”

And there is more help in the offing. WC’s junior high program is stocked with good numbers and better talent, but the Vikings will again be a young team next season.

“They’re going to be really good,” McRight said. “They have a lot of freshmen and sophomores on offense and defense. They’re going to have guys coming up. They’ve just got to get the right mindset.”