Football Season Preview
The 2011 Viking football team comes into its first season under Head Coach Mike Muehling looking to build on the success it found at the close of the 2010 season. The team is adjusting to new schemes and coaches, both offensively and defensively, but feels confident in the possibilities this new season presents.
The offense will be looking to replace several talented players from the 2010 squad, including first team all-conference offensive line selection Jeremy Gatson and conference rushing leader Kenny Youngs. Despite these losses, a deep group of wide receivers as well as some talented running backs have given the Vikings reason to feel good about this season. The returning receivers, led by team captain Mike Tesch (Voorheesville/Voorheesville), Donte Gage (Henninger/Syracuse) and Lashawn Chapman (Troy/Troy), are joined by dynamic incoming freshmen such as Dee Wilkins (Milford Academy/Virginia Beach, VA), Mike Davis (Everglades/Miami, FL) and Dexter Green (N.Myrtle Beach/Syracuse). Freshman tight end Josh Gross (Old Mill/Glen Burnie, MD) also will provide a great receiving target as his talents make him a mismatch for almost any linebacker. Running backs Tymeer Mallory (Bishop Maginn/Albany), Gimmie Wilson (DeSales/Geneva) and C.J. Jones (Woodbridge/Baltimore, MD) will all get time in the Viking backfield, and have given the Vikings staff confidence in their running game this year. With questions at offensive line and at quarterback, the Vikings look to some young players for answers. Freshmen Zayd Hamilton (Woodbridge/Brooklyn, NY) and Devon Greene (Battlefield/Gainesville, VA) have been battling it out for the starting quarterback position and both look to see time this season under center. The offensive line will be immediately impacted by the presence of transfer Nick Pedrotti (West Genesee/Syracuse) as well as incoming freshmen Raquen Morris (Corcoran/Syracuse) and A.J. Giombetti (North Pocono/Mt. Cobb, PA).
On the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings have replaced six of the top seven leading tacklers on the team, as well as the team leaders in fumbles recovered, interceptions, passes defended, tackles and sacks. The group looking to dismiss any worries about this season will be the linebacker corps. Anchoring the linebackers and the defense will be captains Matt Fallico (Fayetteville-Manlius/Syracuse) and Connor Hadcock (Burnt Hills/Burnt Hills). Newcomers Nick Gilbo (Moriah Central/Port Henry) and Collin McCormick (Greenwich/Greenwich) make the linebackers one of the most talented position groups the Vikings have this season. Although largely inexperienced at the collegiate level, the defensive line shows promise with powerful defensive end Michael Adesina (Fortismere (UK)/London, England) and the versatile Gordie Pine (New Paltz/New Paltz). And, although they will be one of the smaller defensive lines in the league, the Vikings staff looks for them to be one of the most productive. The defensive backfield is one of the more experienced groups for the Vikings, as well as one of the deepest. Returning players Isiah Oliver (Bishop Maginn/Albany), Trey Garvey (Woodbridge/Woodbridge, VA), Darryl Haley (Woodbridge/Woodbridge, VA) and captain Mackenzie Elliott (Edgewood/Maryland) will be joined by incoming freshmen Kevin Phillips (West Haven/West Haven, CT) and Shawn Thompson (Thomas Jefferson/Brooklyn) to create a defensive backfield that should cause problems for opposing teams. Although they are adjusting to a new scheme and a new style of play, the Viking defense has picked it up quickly and looks to have a strong season.
With the loss of kicker David Fox, the Vikings are calling on a new leg to handle the kicking and punting duties this fall. A pre-season injury to punter John Militano (Carmel/Carmel) has opened the door for big man Gordie Pine to step in and establish himself as a legitimate punting candidate. Handling kickoff and placekicking responsibilities is freshman Reed Meehan (Tamarac/Troy). A former soccer star, Meehan impressed the staff with his strong leg and his accuracy. When it comes to the return duties, the Vikings have their pick of a variety of talented skill players and are excited about the possibilities. Expect to see several players try their hand at that position before the season's end.
Although the Vikings have a lot of work to do to meet their own expectations, the 2011 season will in no way be a rebuilding year for Hudson Valley. With an exciting offense, a tough defense and fundamentally sound special teams, the Vikings expect to see results quickly.