Vidalia Vikings No. 1 goal is playoff berth

Published 12:47 am Tuesday, August 11, 2009

VIDALIA — A common phrase thrown around the world of sports is the idea of a team needing to “get over the hump.”

For Vidalia High School, that hump comes in the form of making the playoffs this season after just barely missing them the past couple of years.

As Vikings head coach Dee Faircloth began the second week of practice in his 42nd year at the helm, he gave no hesitation in saying what his No. 1 goal for the season is.

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“We’ve had a drought for the last four years,” Faircloth said. “It’s just one of those things. We’ve missed it by the skin of our teeth three years in a row.”

The narrow misses for the Vikings have come in the form of losing to Buckeye High School last season after being up 20-0 with seven minutes left in the game, as well as dropping an overtime contest against Bolton High School in the last game of the 2007 season. The team also barely missed the playoffs in 2006 by losing to Ferriday High School in the last game of that year.

“We’ve kind of been unlucky the past three or four years,” Faircloth said.

Faircloth tabbed the team’s overall strength as a major positive heading into fall practice, and praised the work his players put into lifting weights this summer.

“They’re in as good a shape as any team we’ve had,” Faircloth said.

Junior quarterback Caleb Vines also said good things about the players’ dedication to summer workouts.

“We’ve worked hard this summer,” Vines said. “I think this team is going to work extra hard this year. It’s different from last year. This team works harder and we’re more of a family.”

Faircloth said the main focus of practice so far has been conditioning, as he had his players run 30-yard sprints back and forth 30 times after practice each day last week.

“Their running shape’s fine,” Faircloth said. “Their problem is going to be the work shape, getting up and down off the ground, getting hit and stuff like that.”

Senior Quan Riley pointed to Vines as being a key player for the team this year, since the Vikings will have to throw more after losing running back Kevin Johnson to graduation.

“We’ve got good receivers that he’s going to put the ball in the hands of,” Riley said. “We’ve also added some missing pieces to our defense, so our defense is going to be a lot stronger this year.

Vines echoed Riley’s thinking that the Vikings would throw more this fall.

“We’ve got several good receivers this year, so passing is definitely going to be a key to winning this year,” Vines said.

Injuries have been a problem for the Vikings in recent seasons, and Faircloth said the team will have to be luckier in that regard if they want a postseason berth.

“That’s been our tell-tale for the last few year,” Faircloth said. “Two years ago I lost my first two quarterbacks for the year by the fifth game, so that wasn’t real great.”

Vines, however, singled out the fourth quarter performance of the team as something that must improve in order for the Vikings to make the playoffs.

“We’ve just got to finish games better this year than we did last year,” Vines said.