ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)– Most people figured at the start of the season that Boylan would be in the hunt for the NIC-10 football championship. Probably not so many thought the same of Guilford’s chances, but here the Vikings are in week eight right there and ready for one very big game against Boylan Friday night in our ‘Overtime’ game of the week.

The Titans have been who we thought they were, an outstanding football team with talent all over the field. The Vikings have exceeded a lot of expectations. Afterall, they only won two games last year, now they’re 6-1, the same as Boylan. So, what’s been the big difference for the Vikings this year?

“I think the biggest difference is our senior group has really, from day one, we have way more leaders than last year,” said Guilford head coach Anthony Caprioti. “We had some very good leaders last year, but now we have a lot of them.”

Boylan coach John Cacciatore had a feeling the Vikings were going to be difficult to handle this season in year two under Capriotti.

“You’ve got a new coach last year, and he’s establishing a culture, offense, defense, all his X’s and O’s. You could watch them last year and see that they were getting better every week. As you watch them in all the games in year two each week they’re steadily getting better.”

“I thought all along we could do it,” said Guilford senior defensive lineman and tight end Gian Herrera. “We just, we got the motivation this year. It’s a lot of people’s senior year, so we’re really here to prove ourselves.”

The addition of junior quarterback Skyler Wolf, a transfer from Rockford Lutheran, has also been a big reason behind Guilford’s transformation. Wolf has given the Vikings a passing attack that they haven’t had in a long, long time while at the same time posing a running threat to go with the conference’s leading rusher Jayvon Jones.

“I knew who I was coming to play with, and I know what we needed to come play, and be better,” said Wolf. All we needed was the leadership and the, like, just step up to the plate and want to win.”

The Vikings are also one of the most physical teams in the conference. Yet, some people are still taking a wait and see attitude toward the Vikings. Waiting to see if they can win a big game against a Boylan this week or Belvidere North next week.

“I think there’s a difference between thinking you can do it and knowing you can do it,” said Capriotti. “I definitely think we’re good. We’re going to find out how good we are.”

(The Titans, they know how to win big games. The last two weeks they took down Hononegah and Harlem.

“We’ve been kind of holding on tight here,” said Cacciatore. “Two weeks in a row the Hononegah game, the Harlem game.”

The Titans have scored the most points in the NIC-10 this season. They’ve also given up the fewest amount of points. They have been on a mission since losing in week three to Belvidere North, the same week Guilford suffered its only loss of the season to Hononegah. They have been watching this tight conference race play out.

“It’s been really exciting watching everybody battle to the last couple games of the season,” said Boylan receiver Mark Harris. “We’ve been watching, and we’ve been trying to get back to the number one spot.”

“It’s interesting for sure,” said Boylan defensive end Max Montoya. “I go to all the games I can to see who’s winning and who’s losing, and it’s really motivating for us to try to get back in that number one spot.” The last time Guilford won a NIC-10 championship was in 1982. The Titans last championship was in 2019.

By the way, first-place Belvidere North will also play a big game Friday night at Harlem.
Catch all the highlights on ‘Overtime’ live at 11 p.m. on Fox 39.