Vikings Work to Improve on 2-8 Season
It might sound harsh coming from head coach Kelly Williamson, but with the Latta Vikings coming off a 2-8 season, Williamson is dealing with harsh realities. “We need some wins.”
“There is so much room for improvement. We were very weak last year,” Williamson said, noting that the Vikings have been spending a lot of time in the weight room during the offseason.
“To have a good football team, you have to have a good defense,” he said. “We gave up too many points last year. We don’t know where we stand defensively yet.”
The Vikings did have a better, more committed turnout this season, with 47 players in total. Nine offensive starters returned, along with nine defensive starters.
“This is their second year in this system,” Williamson said. “They’re more comfortable now and know what to expect.”
They know what to expect from most of their opponents as well. Although Hemingway and Carvers Bay have moved to a new region, Williamson doesn’t expect the season to be any easier.
“When you’re last, it don’t matter what realignment you’re in,” Williamson pointed out. “You either play hard and get it done or you don’t.”
The schedule includes non-region matches against Wagener-Salley, Lincoln, and Aynor, a team that Latta hasn’t faced since 2009. “Aynor is much improved from what I hear,” Williamson said. It also includes East Clarendon, who went 6-5 last season before losing in the first round of playoffs.
But despite the challenges that await them, Williamson said their practices are going well. “I’m very pleased with their effort so far.”
The team recently returned from the 3-day Bob Cooper Football Camp at the R.M. Cooper Leadership Center, which has built a reputation as one of the best football training camps in South Carolina. It’s the second year in a row that Williamson has sent the team to the camp.
“They do a lot of practices like they normally would, but the trip is good for them. They did a lot of team-building and it’s good to get them away from the usual field.”
Along the sidelines, many familiar faces are returning, including Douglas Jackson as defensive coordinator, Daniel Little on defense, and Chris German working with the recievers. The coaching staff also added Robert McIntyre, who brings his own experiences playing for Marion’s Bob Rankin to the field.
The Vikings have two scrimmages scheduled this week, with the first tonight at Lake View’s Jamboree. Latta is scheduled to face Hannah-Pamplico at 6:00 p.m. to open the Jamboree. On Friday, the Vikings are scheduled to take on South Robeson.
Latta begins regular season play on Friday, August 17, when they are scheduled to host Wagener-Salley at 7:30 p.m.
While Williamson remains realistic about the upcoming season, he thinks the Vikings have improved.
“I honestly think we’re going to be a better team. That may not equate to any more wins at all, but we’ll see what happens.”
Photos by Aaron Miles. Click images below to view at full size!