Updated Thu, Oct 3, 2013 5:12 pm
With the first five weeks of non-conference football in the books, the Alexander Spartans kick off TVC-Ohio play when they host the Vinton County Vikings Friday night at Spartan Stadium.
Despite last season’s result – a 13-6 Alexander win – the Spartans (1-4) have struggled thus far in 2013. Meanwhile, Vinton County (3-2) has finally found the groove it has been looking for in recent years.
“For the first time in my four years as a head coach, we’ve got consistency,” Vinton County coach Justy Burleson said. “We’ve got guys that understand what we ask of them, and they’re more experienced than our previous three years.”
Consistency and experience has been key for the Vikings this season.
After closing 2012 with a disappointing 1-9 record that landed them last in the TVC-Ohio, the Vikings have already won three games and still have five to play. Although they have dropped two of their last three, the Vikings still maintain the best total defense in the league, allowing merely 220.8 yards per game.
But Alexander has been hot of recent on offense.
The Spartans put up 77 points over their last two games, led by an unexpectedly efficient passing attack. Quarterback Brody McGrath is second in the TVC-Ohio with 803 yards passing and seven touchdowns, trailing only Athens’ Joe Burrow in both categories.
In their 19-48 loss to Gallia Academy last week, the Vikings allowed 2012 Gridiron Glory Player of the Year Wade Jerrell to pass for 319 yards and six touchdowns.
Jarrell and the Blue Devils exposed some inexperience in the Vikings’ secondary. A similar showing Friday could open up some airways for McGrath and keep the Alexander defense off the field.
Simply put, the Spartans’ defense has been unable to stop opposing offenses this season, allowing more than 33 points per game.
In their 48-56 loss at Waverly week 4, the Spartans allowed more than 400 yards on the ground. Advantage: Vinton County.
The Vikings like to split carries between fullback Tim Ousley and running back J.T. Hayes. Ousley and Hayes have combined for 727 yards and seven touchdowns this year. The duo will be influential in the outcome of Friday’s contest.
“We want to control the clock, and we want to get our run game really on track,” Burleson said. “The last couple of games we just didn’t really get it on track the way we wanted to, so we want to make sure we can get that done.”
The Spartans hope to avoid a fifth-straight loss this season, while the Vikings hope to end a five-game losing streak to Alexander. Both teams are looking to move past their recent struggles and grab that first win in conference play.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Spartan Stadium in Albany.