Vikings Take On Westover Tonight
Tonight marks the fourth week of conference play for Union Pines as the Viking football team hosts the Westover Wolverines at Woodrow Wilhoit Stadium in Cameron.
The Vikes enter the 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference clash with a record of 2-5 on the season and 0-3 in league play.
Since getting off to a 2-2 start, Union Pines has dropped its first three CFVC contests of the year. The Vikings opened the conference with a 46-0 loss at Overhills (2-4, 1-1 CFVC), followed by a 42-14 defeat to Gray’s Creek (6-1, 3-0) in Hope Mills.
Last week head coach Ryan Riggan and his Vike squad returned home and got off to a solid start against league foe Western Harnett. Through the eight-minute mark of the second quarter the game was tied at 14-14 before the visiting Eagles (3-4, 2-0) scored five of the next six touchdowns on their way to a 51-28 victory.
Like Union Pines, Westover enters tonight’s battle with a season record of 2-5, however, the Wolverines are 1-1 in league play. In its first conference game this season Westover bested Southern Lee (1-6, 0-3) by a 32-10 margin. The squad fell 20-14 to defending CFVC champion Douglas Byrd (5-2, 2-1) last week in its second league contest.
“Westover is a huge challenge in that they are a very well-coached group and have a lot of team speed,” said Riggan. “They have played good conference games so far and are playing at a pretty high level right now.”
In week five the Wolverines fell 21-0 to 4-A Hoke County (6-1) in a tilt that was scoreless going into halftime.
Westover’s other win this season came in a 16-13 victory against 4-A Cape Fear (1-6) and the squad has only been on the wrong end of one lopsided final in a 43-0 week-three loss at 4-A E.E. Smith (6-1).
“Their team speed is pretty impressive on film, “said Riggan when accessing the Vikings week-seven opponent. “They have good backs on offense and have a defensive line that comes off the ball really hard and causes problems for teams up front. They run some option and are pretty good at executing it so that is another element to their game you have to worry about
“Offensively they can throw the ball well and we’ve had problems defending the deep ball recently so that is something we’ve stressed this week but I’m sure they will try to test it.
“Their O-line is pretty good. I think they will be similar in size to the offensive lines we have seen over the past couple of weeks and maybe a little more physical.”
So far Union Pines has surrendered six passing touchdowns midway through its 2012 CFVC campaign, allowing a total of 202 yards in the air on 10 completions, for an average gain of 20.5 yards.
“When we are on defense,” Riggan said, “up front there has to be a sense of urgency to get to the QB and get off of blocks. We have to get off when they are passing and get some hits on him to make him move around and not just be able to stand on one spot and make throws.”
Two areas on the field that led to Western taking control last week were three costly dead ball personal fouls by the Vikings as well as some missed opportunities to gain big yards, or even score, on offense in the passing game.
“We had a lot of missed chances for some big plays last week,” Riggan said, “and we cannot afford to do that again Friday night.
“This week at practice we stressed discipline and how those missed chances are almost as bad as a turnover themselves. We also spent a lot of time working on staying deep on deep passes and making sure we have our back end covered.”
Despite being on a current three-game losing skid, Riggan feels that his team’s collective spirit is high.
“The guys are continuing to work to get better and really giving us everything they have,” said Riggan. “They are a pretty resilient group and seem to have a pretty good morale. They are continuing to work and striving to better themselves.”
Riggan feels the recipe for success on offense for the Vikings is pretty straightforward in terms of sustaining drives and capitalizing on trips to the red zone.
“When we are on offense we need to hold on to the ball and keep the chains moving,” said Riggan. “We have to put up points when we have an opportunity and try to keep their defense on the field. Those are our top priorities.”
According to Riggan, the name of the game for the Viking defense against Westover is containment.
“We need to keep them (Westover) in front of us and make them drive to score. Not allowing any big play touchdowns would go a long way towards our defensive unit’s confidence and improvement.”
“When we take the field for this game the three keys to success will be ball security on both sides of the ball, limiting Westover’s big plays, and making big plays of our own when we have a chance to do so.”
Kickoff for the CFVC contest is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Contact F.W. Manning II at email@example.com.
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