LINDSBORG— After a 9-2 season, the Smoky Valley High School football team is looking to pick up where they left off after losing in the state quarterfinals to Holcomb High School 22-6. There are questions in certain positions, but head coach Tim Lambert likes the depth he has on this year's Vikings team.
"We have a lot of experience returning and should be solid at many positions," Lambert said.
"We should be much improved with everyone a year older and stronger than a year ago. Our depth will be much better also with solid sophomore and junior classes . We need to get off to a good start to gain some confidence. "
Smoky Valley, being dominantly a running offense, will be without their top rushers from last season Kyle Anderson (1436 yards and 16 touchdowns) and Riley Odell (161 carries, 889 yards, and 10 TDs) as they both graduated. Returning is Cort Elliott, who also plays linebacker, could be the primary back for the Vikings. Also returning is all-purpose back and coach's son Tim Lambert (68 carries, 327 yards, and four touchdowns. The junior played every side on the field as a running back, free safety and return specialist. Last season he recorded 707 all-purpose yards as a sophomore. Expect him to get more touches as he brings speed to the Vikings' offense. The Vikings will also have a veteran offensive line as four of the five linemen from last year are back for another year to help out the run game.
Seven return on defense for Smoky Valley. Sack leader Konrad Peterson, also plays offensive guard, is back at defensive tackle. He and Ethan Wampler will lead the Vikings' front four. Elliott will also see the field at linebacker as he was the fourth leading tackler last season with 62. Blake Heble will also help the linebacking corp for his senior outing. The Vikings will have all their secondary returning led by their two safeties Lambert and Lane Schrag. Carson Windholz is back at cornerback.
The Vikings are loaded with seniors and could attempt to make another run in the state tournament. Coach Lambert wants his players to get bigger and stronger throughout the season, with confidence that the Vikings can go further than they were last year.
"Keys to a winning season will be getting stronger in the weight room and injuries throughout the season," Lambert said. "If we stay committed to the weight room and stay healthy we could be better than a year ago."
Smoky Valley Schedule:
Aug. 31 — vs Larned
Sept. 7 — at Haven
Sept. 14 — at Nickerson
Sept. 21 — Hesston (rivalry)
Sept. 28 — at Clay Center High School
Oct. 5 — Chapman
Oct. 12 — Halstead
Oct. 19 — at Rock Creek
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_orour sports page @MacCountySports