POPLAR GROVE, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Anyone who follows high school football in the Big Northern Conference has come to expect two things from North Boone. The Vikings will always be competitive, and they’ll rely heavily on a spread passing game. Expect more of that this year.
The Vikings were competitive last season, and Chandler Alderman was the latest in a long line of outstanding quarterbacks at the school , but the Vikings didn’t make the playoffs.
That has lit a bit of a fire under the guys this year.
“Yea, I think it just gives you a little bit more motivation,” said head coach Ryan Kelley. The guys were definitely aware of it (their playoff steak getting snapped), and aware of the record last year.”
“Our goal this year is definitely to make it to the playoffs,” said senior lineman Hunter Chamberlain.
Stepping in and stepping up at quarterback will be senior Jack Christensen. He played mostly running back last year, but he was the sophomore quarterback two years ago.
“I feel like my skills are reading the defense pretty well, and I know where to place the ball. I have a pretty good arm, so I can throw deep.”
“We’ve had some really good quarterbacks in the past, but Jack’s his own player,” said Kelley. “He brings a little bit of uniqueness to the quarterback position for us. Just really smart. He can make all the throws that we ask him to in our offense.”
Senior Connor McKibben will be North Boone’s lead running back.
As usual, the Vikings have some excellent receivers starting with senior Chris Doetch. He’s been making big plays for years now. He could line up anywhere on the field on offense and be a threat, and now he’s bigger and stronger than last year.
“He’s filled out a little bit,” said Kelley. “He’s got a great skill set. He can do just about anything you ask him to do on a football field which is awesome.”
Sophomore receiver Bradley Dahl, who also plays defensive end, will also give opponents something to think about. He’s 6’4, and he’s physically far more developed than most sophomores are.
Julian Rodriguez, R.J. Wolski and Azriel Dixon will be the Vikings’ other receivers.
Up front the linemen have adopted the name the War Hogs, and they are big. Their five offensive linemen have an average weight of 265 pounds. Left guard Hunter Chamberlain is the biggest at 6’3 325 pounds.
I asked him about the War Hogs name.
“Yea, it’s new this year. Coach Doetch over there, he came up with it for all the linemen over summer camp. He just kind of came to camp one day and started saying it, and it just kind of stuck in. I honestly don’t know where it came from.”
The Vikings are encouraged about their defensive potential with seven starters returning.
“We do have a lot of guys that are coming back which is exciting,” said Kelley. “It’s nice to build off of.”