Things Don't Get Any Easier for Vikings
Last week the Union Pines Vikings suffered a 46-0 loss on the road to Overhills in their 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference pigskin opener.
Things don’t get any easier this week for head coach Ryan Riggan and his Viking squad, currently 2-3 overall and 0-1 in conference play, as they hit the road to take on Gray’s Creek tonight in Hope Mills.
“Gray’s Creek is a great team and has been for a few years now,” said Riggan. “Our guys know that they face a great opponent and that execution for us will be the key to staying around with them. You cannot give a team like Gray’s Creek a lot of chances to do damage because they have several guys who can hurt you.”
On the season Gray’s Creek is 4-1 and 1-0 in CFVC play after dusting defending league champion Douglas Byrd (3-2, 0-1) last week by a 42-15 margin. For the year the Bears are averaging 44.8 points per game, while holding opponents to 29.2. Their nonconference opponents included three 4-A teams in Terry Sanford, Pine Forest and Cape Fear, which they topped in week four by a margin of 62-31.
The thing Riggan feels stands out most about the Bears is their team speed.
“Gray’s Creek’s guys can all fly around and they do,” he said. “The backs are fast, the defense is fast, and they swarm to the football. Offensively they have a great system with several backs who can really go, including reigning league offensive player of the year Ken McDowell.
“They are a Wing-T style team on offense and feature a solid offensive line. They are going to pose a huge threat in the run game. They are good at running the ball and the line comes off the ball very aggressive. So our guys really have to do their job every snap to keep them in front of us.
“They have a lot of speed on defense, and can score defensively. They run to the ball and like to force turnovers, so we really have to protect the ball this week.”
In their loss last week the Vikings committed three first-half turnovers that loomed large in deciding the squad’s fate.
“We have to do better in terms of ball security in all facets of the game,” said Riggan. “We had our hands on three interceptions last week and didn’t make the catch. I told our guys that those plays are just as bad as fumbles and we must capitalize when we get that opportunity.
“For a quarter-and-a-half we played really good football offensively and defensively last week. We must execute that way for an entire game. Our guys have to get better at staying focused and not having mental let downs in the running game.”
The Vikings were tied with Overhills after one period of play last week in Spring Lake, but the Jags (2-3, 1-0 CFVC) capitalized on two turnovers and scored three touchdowns in the final 6:32 of the second half to carry a 20-0 lead into intermission.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. as Union Pines tries to end its 14-game league losing streak.
Contact F.W. Manning II at frankwm2 @gmail.com.
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