After week one, Vikings need answers

Published 12:01 am Sunday, September 4, 2011

If Dee Faircloth were still coaching at Vidalia High School, he’d probably try to lighten the mood with a one-liner.

In addition to being an excellent coach for a long time, Faircloth was always gifted in making others laugh. In reality, however, the Vikings’ current predicament is nothing to laugh about.

In its season opener against Block High School, Vidalia didn’t show much improvement from last year’s disappointing season, in which the Vikings finished 2-8.

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Now, I’m aware that it’s only the first game. Vidalia certainly has plenty of time to improve, and who is to say they won’t? But after a 40-12 loss to the Bears Friday night, the Vikings have been left with a long list of questions in a very short amount of time.

Block makes for a tough opponent against anyone, but after meeting some initial resistance early, the Bears pretty much had their way with Vidalia for most of the game. The loss led to Vikings head coach Gary Parnham Jr. questioning his team’s mental fortitude, saying his players “played scared.”

It didn’t look like that at first. After fumbling the opening kickoff and watching Block score in just a couple of plays, Vidalia responded with a scoring drive of its own, capped off by a 3-yard touchdown carry by Jamale Davis.

In that first drive, the Vidalia offensive line seemed to give Davis and the other Viking runners plenty of room to work with, driving the Block defensive line back.

But Vidalia wouldn’t score again until the fourth quarter, while Block made use of several big plays en route to the Bears’ blowout win. The Vikings seemed particularly plagued by penalties, with several drives stalling out because of mental miscues. Vidalia finished with 13 penalties for minus 75 yards.

It’s not like the Bears didn’t have penalty problems of their own — they were also penalized 13 times, but for a total of 110 yards. Despite those miscues, though, the Bears seemed to be able to make things happen, while Vidalia couldn’t.

Block’s first touchdown was on a 30-yard carry. Other scoring drives came after a blocked punt recovery, a 59-yard carry, a 37-yard punt return and a 20-yard fumble recovery after a botched snap.

Whether it’s lack of desire, mental miscues, “playing scared” or a combination of all of it, Vidalia seemed particularly prone to giving up big plays in game one. The Vikings tallied 157 yards rushing against the Bears, so they at least showed some ability to move the ball on the ground. Many of their drives simply stalled out due to penalties or lack of execution.

Quarterback Michael Whitley finished 5-for-8 in passing with 46 yards, showing some ability to complement the Vikings’ running game with a short passing attack. That is, he showed that ability when he wasn’t running for his life, which he usually was.

Whatever Vidalia’s issues are, a lack of ability doesn’t appear to be one of them. I don’t really have any answers for the Vikings. If I did, I’d probably be coaching football instead of writing about it. But the coaches and players owe it to each other to figure it out, because they can be a better team than they showed Friday night.