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Vikings face second big test of season

A couple of weeks ago, the Vikings took on the Chesapeake Panthers in a battle of unbeatens.

Friday, September 24, 1999

A couple of weeks ago, the Vikings took on the Chesapeake Panthers in a battle of unbeatens. After squandering a couple of scoring opportunities the first half and trailing 7-0, the Vikings committed three costly mistakes to begin the second half and quickly fell behind by four touchdowns in a 40-8 loss.

This Friday the Vikings get a second chance to test how good they are as they play the Oak Hill Oaks.

Oak Hill comes into the game 4-0 and ranked first in Region 19 of Division V. The Vikings are 3-1 and eighth in Region 23 of Division VI. Obviously, the winner will walk away with a chunk of computer ratings points toward earning a postseason playoff berth.

And not only is the game big in the computer ratings, it is the first Southern Ohio Conference matchup of the year.

"It’s a big league game, and if we can get a win it’s big computer points. And we are big computer points for them," Vikings coach Herb Conley said. "We talked to our kids about the importance of this game. We’re starting off the league and we’re trying to beat a team that’s undefeated and so many playoff points at stake. It’s a big game."

Symmes Valley won last year’s game 28-14 at home, so Conley knows going on the road will be a tough task.

"They just pound and pound and pound," said Conley. "We were bigger than they were last year, but they’re bigger this year. We won 28-14, so they’re going to remember last year."

Oak Hill is coached by Merril Triplett who used to coach at Symmes Valley. Triplett took the Vikings to their only postseason appearance in 1990, so he is well aware of the type of players his team will face.

"All their backs run extremely hard, and they’re very aggressive on defense," Triplett said. "They run the wishbone which isn’t an offense you see very often and that makes it hard to defend. And they know how to run it well and that puts pressure on you."

Most of the attention with the Vikings offense focuses on halfback Brad Carpenter who has 384 yards on 51 carries and has scored eight touchdowns. But Triplett said the other three backs – quarterback Noah Henson, fullback Adam Niece, and halfback Jarod Leffingwell - are all very capable of getting the job done.

"I know Carpenter is good, but you can’t really gear yourself to one guy. If you put all your efforts at Carpenter, the other guys will hurt you. They’re a very balanced back field and they have a new wrinkle this year with the pass. Their quarterback throws the ball well," said Triplett.

Vikings quarterback Noah Henson has hit 15 of 21 passes for 199 yards and two interceptions.

Oak Hill will rely on quarterback Josh Brunton who stands 6-foot-4, 230 pounds. The Oaks have a big fullback in Chad Russ (6-2, 205) and speedy running backs in Josh Nelson (5-9, 190) and Jarrod Willis (5-11, 190).

"They’re strong and physical, and they’re bigger than us on the offensive line. If our kids are ready, it could be a good one. It’ll be tough," said Conley.

Anchoring the Oaks offensive line is 6-3, 268-pound tackle Jeffrey Allen who Triplett called "a good one. He’s the best I’ve ever coached. He loves to play."

The Vikings got good news this week when defensive lineman Clint Wiseman returned to the lineup. Wiseman was injured the first game of the year.

"We had a good week of practice," Conley said.