TRL Football Preview: Northeast

Northeast Vikings

Head Coach: Phil Hobbs (18-73 — .198, 11th season)

Assistant Coaches: Tommy Leftwich, Joey McDowell, Chase Cleland

2017 record: 0-9 (0-4 league)

 2017 NE-Arma Football Schedule
 9/1 v. Liberal, MOL 53-0
 9/8 @ Yates Center*L 20-14
 9/15 v. Uniontown*L 38-30 (2 OT)
 9/22 @ Belle PlaineL 68-0
 9/29 v. Oswego*L 34-28
 10/6 @ Baxter SpringsL 71-12
 10/13# @ Jayhawk-Linn*L 44-8
 10/20# @ ErieL 46-6
 10/26# v. Humboldt58-0

2017 season in review: Lately, Northeast has struggled to put wins into the win column. They finished the 2017 season 0-9, but were competitive in nearly every league contest. In league play the Vikings fell to Yates Center, Oswego, and Uniontown by just one touchdown, with the Uniontown contest finishing in double overtime. Although Northeast struggled through the rest of their schedule, each game presented a new learning experience. Some of their struggle can be attributed to a lack of experience at the varsity level. In 2017 Northeast had one of the youngest rosters in the TRL, starting a majority of underclass in several key spots.

Key departures: Ethan Balk / Arin Katzer / Chad O’Bannion / Kamryn O’Dell

Top returning players:

QB/DB Karter Dugan — (5-10, 165, So.) — HM All-TRL QB

OL/LB Hunter Jackson — (5-10, 180, Jr.) — HM All-TRL LB

TE/DE Kadin Dugan — (6-2, 190, Sr.)

RB/LB Thomas Cronister — (5-9, 180, Sr.)

OL/DL Keatyn O’Dell — (6-1, 185, Jr.)

RB/DB Nathan Boswell — (5’11, 160, Sr.)

2018 season preview: While the last two seasons have been tough on the football program, there is still optimism heading into 2018. Many underclassmen who were thrust into varsity roles a season ago now have valuable in-game experience. Having so many underclassmen also means that Northeast returns the majority of its offensive and defensive starters. This leads head coach Phil Hobbs to believe that the recent youth movement could lead to success during the upcoming season. Quarterback Karter Dugan is back for his sophomore campaign to lead the Vikings on offense, while linebacker Hunter Jackson  is back to lead the defense. Both players were selected to the All-TRL honorable mention. With the recent KSHSAA district and class realignment, Northeast will now compete at the 2A level and in a new district. A new schedule, district, and class could mean this is the season where the Northeast football program begins to turn the corner.

Predicted 2018 Three Rivers League finish: TRL Coaches Preseason Poll – 6th     SEK Sports Contributors – 6th

 2018 NE-Arma Football Schedule
 9/31 @ Pleasanton*
 9/7 v. Yates Center*
 9/14 @ Uniontown*
 9/21# Southeast-Cherokee*
 9/28# v. Riverton
 10/5# @ Jayhawk-Linn*
 10/12# v. Humboldt
 10/19# @ Erie
 10/26 TBA

Biggest game of 2018: Southeast. Now that Southeast has officially joined the football side of things in the TRL, this old CNC League rivalry between Northeast and Southeast can be reignited. Separated by just thirty-miles, these two teams have had a long history of not liking one another and it showed on the football field. However, both Northeast and Southeast recently have gone through large dry spells. Southeast’s last win came in 2014 while Northeast’s last victory came in 2015. To add to the stakes, this is a league contest as well as a district match-up. For Northeast this week four tilt will serve as a chance to not only get into the win column, but to gain bragging rights in a rivalry renewed.

Interview with Head Coach Phil Hobbs.

SEK Are there any team captains or players that you feel put in extra effort this off-season and deserve to be recognized?

Phil Hobbs: We have not selected captains yet, but I expect all of our players to lead. Keatyn O’Dell, Thomas Cronister and Hunter Jackson are three that have excelled through the off-season program. Gage Cronister and Zach Cronister have been dedicated to the weight room and improving their football skills. Kalin Griffin and Josh Dickey have also worked very hard.

SS: What is your opinion of the new playoff/district classifications?

PH:I like it. I think it opens things up a bit and gives teams more opportunity. Obviously we want to finish one or two in our district to give ourselves the best opportunity going into week 9. Even if we don’t finish that high coming out of our district we still have a shot at advancing. In 2012 and 2013 we were at 2A with a district that included Olpe and Lyndon, we had a good team and finished 4-5 each of those seasons and won the TRL in 2013, but under that system and in a tough district our season ended week 9.”

SS: What defines a successful season for your program?

PH: With this team, a winning record, winning the league and advancing to week 10.”

SS: Does your team have any pre-game or walk through practice traditions?

PH: We have a team meeting at 5 pm, dress and head out for pregame a little before like most teams. When we are at home we have quiet time in the weight room to remind us of how much work and sacrifice has happened in preparation for the game.”

SS: What do you see as being your biggest obstacle this upcoming season as a team?

PH: Believing we can and will win. Developing that winning expectation and attitude.”

SS: What do you feel are your teams’ strengths?

PH: I think we have good team speed, and our team has good chemistry between players.”

SS: In one word the 2018 schedule can be described as?

PH: “Favorable.”

SS: Northeast will contend for a Three Rivers League Title if?

PH: We stay healthy. We don’t have a great deal of depth, and many schools our size don’t. We have to make sure that we keep our best 11 on the field and injury free, we have to coach and make sure our back-ups are ready to go if needed. We often talk about football at our level being a game of attrition.”

SS: What do you most look forward to about this upcoming season?

PH:Working with this group of players. They are a tremendous group of young men, very coach-able and fun to be around. Wins will come and we will meet our goals, but nothing is more important than helping develop young men.”

I would like to give a huge thanks to head coach Phil Hobbs for taking time to share insight about the Vikings’ upcoming season, as well as wish his team the best of luck!

Catch the next installment of the Three Rivers League football preseason preview on Friday (5/24) when we cover the Yates Center Wildcats.