Vikings Open League Play Against Jags
The Union Pines football team kicks off its 2012 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference campaign in Spring Lake tonight against the Overhills Jaguars.
Overall on the season the Vikings sport a record of 2-2 as they enter league play. The club is coming off a stirring 35-34 overtime victory last week against East Montgomery.
Union Pines has struggled mightily over its past three CFVC seasons with a combined record of 1-17 over that span. Currently, the Vikes are riding a 13-game league losing streak with their last conference victory coming against Southern Lee late in the 2009 season.
In particular Overhills has been a tough team for the Vikings. The average score between the two schools over the past four years has been the Jaguars 39.5 and Union Pines 7.25. Union Pines has lost each of those four meetings and last beat Overhills in the 2007 season with a 44-22 victory.
This season Overhills brings a 1-3 record into league play, and despite that mark Viking coach Ryan Riggan is well aware of just how dangerous a football team Overhills is capable of being.
“It seems like every year Overhills comes into conference play 0-4," Riggan said, "and then they open up with a strong string of performances. Going to Overhills is a tremendous challenge for our team because they are a good football team.
“They have been in or led every game they’ve played into the second half (this season) and they have a quarterback in senior Danny Karrs that can hurt you throwing and can run some too.”
The Jaguars opened the season by falling 31-26 to 4-A E.E. Smith (3-1) and then lost 21-7 to 4-A Pinecrest (2-2) in week two. The third week saw Overhills hold a 6-0 halftime lead over 3-A Triton (4-0) and trail 7-6 through three quarters of action before losing 27-6. Last week, the Jags finally got in the win column with an eye-opening 58-0 dismantling of 4-A Harnett Central (1-2)
One thing that impresses Riggan about this year’s Overhills squad is their depth in the backfield and the way those running backs work for yards after they are initially hit.
“The Jaguar running backs do a great job of getting the yards after contact,” Riggan said, “which means that you really have to get the whole team to the ball to make tackles and not just one or two guys. They have a couple of pretty good sized kids up front on the defensive line and they have a middle linebacker that is a really good football player as well.
“Offensively they are a run- first team. They have a good passing game but they run the ball a lot and are good at doing it. The last couple of years when we’ve played these guys they have started with a heavy dose of the run game and then made some key passes when in counted to open things up so just because they are run first doesn’t mean they’re not capable of making it happen with the pass too.
Riggan expects to see his offense face a lot of blitz packages in a variety of different forms when they line up at scrimmage tonight.
“Defensively Overhills likes to bring pressure,” he said. “You can expect them to blitz a lot and they are good at doing it.
Union Pines has carried the positive momentum of the big win last week into their workouts this week in preparing for tonight’s gridiron battle
“Most of our guys had a really good week this week,” said Riggan. “Trey McRae had a good week. Trey is a senior who has done a really good job for us up front on the defensive line and he does not get a lot of credit but he keeps working everyday to get better and his improvement shows week to week.”
On the injury front Union Pines will see senior Kyle Rakers back after a two-week layoff, but he will be limited to one side of the line, along with returning to the special teams as the Vikes’ starting punter. Union Pines will be without the services of two starters in is secondary. Right cornerback Joe Murphy will be out at least four weeks with a wrist injury, while free safety Zach Yates — who was carried off the field last week due to a concussion — will sit out this week’s game before returning to action next Friday.
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