Experienced defense Vikings’ strength
Eleven starters return from an 8-2 season for the Minneota Vikings football team that plays its first game on the road on Friday night.
The season is scaled back to six regular season games instead of the conventional eight-game regular season, while the post-season has yet to be finalized by the Minnesota State High School League.
Minneota outscored its opponents 289-75 last season, holding opponents to one touchdown or less in seven of those games. And with the majority of the defense returning from that squad, it could again be difficult for opponents to reach the end zone against the Vikings.
Minneota captains this season will be seniors Joey Rybinski and Jacob Citterman, and junior A.J. Josephson.
The Vikings, who open against MACCRAY in a Camden Conference game this Friday, Oct. 9 in Maynard, return 11 starters from last year's successful team.
Offensively, the Vikings are always dangerous both on the ground and through the air.
"We return experience at the quarterback position with Jacob Hennen, Kade Lozinski and Isaac Pohlen," said head coach Chad Johnston, now in his 19th year. "Both Kade and Jacob are getting some experience at tight end/wide receiver also."
Receivers Myhre and Cale Sorensen give the quarterbacks tall targets to throw to.
Josephson and Rybinski returns as wingbacks, while Conner Sik fills in at fullback after getting a lot of reps as a backup last season. Anthony Rybinski will also be counted on in the backfield.
The offensive line will be the most experienced on the team with Citterman, Jackson Esping, Cole Myhre, Beau Banish and Hayden Gamrak. Trey Gronke also returns after missing time last season with a knee injury. Hudson Scholten gives the line some added depth.
On defense, a majority of the starters are returning from a team that allowed only 7.5 points per game last season.
The defensive line has good size with Esping, Gamrak, Citterman and Beau Banish returning as starters. Gronke adds depth to the line.
Josephson, Rybinski and Tucker Thooft are returning starters at linebacker. Esping will also rotate in at that position.
A.J. Myhre returns at safety, while Jacob Hennen and Cooper VanOverbeke are returning cornerbacks. Sorensen and Lozinski will provide valuable depth at the position.
Peyton Gillund returns as the team's kicker, while the Vikings may try out several players for the punting position.
Photo: The 2020 Minneota Vikings are: (Front row, left to right) Isaac Pohlen, Jack Lacek, Joe Verschelde, Peyton Gillund, Ben Schmidt, Keaton Jurrens, Ryan Dalager, Peyton Sik, Drew Lipinski and Max Rost. Middle Row: Michael Popowski, Brandon Johnson, Tyler Schmidt, Kaden Culver, Beau Banish, Landon DeSmet, Evan Popowski, Sawyer DeSmet, Grant Anderson, Zack Fier, Tucker Thooft, Cole Myhre and Hudson Scholten. Back Row: Cooper VanOverbeke, Jayden Gamrak, AJ Myhre, Jacob Hennen, Conner Sik, Cale Sorensen, Lane Loyson, Joey Rybinski, Trey Gronke, Dylan DeSmet, Anthony Rybinski, Kade Lozinski, AJ Josephson, Jackson Esping and Jonah Gruenes. Mascot photo by Scott Thoma.