ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)– The last time a Guilford football team put together a winning season this year’s seniors were in fourth grade. There’s a feeling on campus that that streak could end this season.
We start with the guys overseeing things now for the Vikings new head coach Tony Capriotti. He’s been a teacher and an assistant coach at Guilford since 2012, so he saw Guilford’s last winning season. He doesn’t want to wait long to see the next one. Neither do his players.
“What’s most exciting is that seeing the buy-in that they have and wanting to do a little bit extra,” said Capriotti. “Sometimes they get mad when we cut things short a little bit.”
Guilford’s numbers are good. There are close to 70 players in the program freshmen through seniors, and there will be 37 to 42 players on the varsity roster.
“The overall theme for this year was we have to define what toughness is to us,” said Capriotti. “A lot of times people think it’s a big hit, or they think it’s a big play, but for us it was really being consistent in our approach and consistent in our day-to-day effort.”
The Vikings leader on the field will be returning senior quarterback Bryce Walker.
“I bring leadership to the team. A vocal leader. I bring, I make sure everybody is in line, and I bring fun and energy to every practice, every game.”
“He’s the best quarterback in the NIC if you ask me,” said Guilford linebacker Ja’Khai Penix. “I’ll be honest with you. He’s fast. That’s Lamar Jackson 2.0.”
The Vikings could have a running back by committee approach. That’s the deepest position on the team, although sophomore LaDamion Hoffman could turn out to be something special.
Five juniors on the offensive line all got some varsity experience in the spring.
The Vikings threw the ball only five times in their four spring games. Capriotti won’t say what type of offense they’ll run this season. He’ll only say that…
“We will run the ball and we will pass the ball.”
Penix will be one of the cornerstones on defense at linebacker. Angelo Washington and Jordan Reynolds are a couple more guys to keep an eye on on defense.
“We like to hit I’m going to say that,” said Penix. “They’re going to feel it this year. They’re going to feel it this year.”