Photo By Clayton Bunt - #Jack Prka
Written by Zack Kellogg
To be within arm’s reach of a championship and ultimately come up short can be one of the biggest heartbreaks in sports.
A 57-56 double-overtime loss in the 5A state championship game against Rigby in the Kibbie Dome was an unfortunate end to a thrilling final game for the Vikings.
Despite the disappointing finale, the Coeur d’Alene Vikings are in position to take back the 5A state championship crown with a deep roster of returning talent, with plenty of all-state and all-league talent on both sides of the ball.
“Last year we had a small senior class. We relied on a limited amount to take many snaps on both sides of the ball,” Vikings Head Coach Shawn Amos said. “This year, we feel like our depth has improved across the board, along with returning some very productive players.”
Senior Luke McLaughlin returns fresh off leading the state in for tackles, setting a school record in the process, at linebacker and safety.
McLaughlin headlines the linebacking core, filled with all-state and all-league accolades, giving high hope for an efficient front seven with veteran leadership and high levels of production on the field.
The secondary, despite losing three key members in Devon Johnson, Colbey Nosworthy and Jake Brown, is supported by the depth for the upcoming season.
Amos said having Ty Pottenger and Gunner Giulio gives a boost of leadership to the secondary along with a high level of production. With a core of experience having not only success on the stat sheet but in wins and postseason play, has the Viking defense in a good position.
The offense is in a similar position, having tremendous key players but losing productive members from last season.
An offense always starts with the quarterback, with senior Jack Prka returning to run the show. Worries about Prka are hard to find, after he led the Vikings to within a single point of a state championship. The same can be said for the running backs, as the backfield is highlighted by Giulio and Trent Elstad, both with plenty of experience carrying the rock.
Questions start to pop up with the o-line and wide receivers. Amos said while the offensive line is returning “a mix of experience and talented depth ready to push for time,” the newcomers at receiver “will need to adjust quickly in both the run (blocking) and pass game.”
Despite no plans from the coaching staff to adjust the offensive schemes, the first couple games could be needed to iron out the wrinkles with the usual balanced offense leaning more on the running game.
Ethan Garitone, who suffered a season-ending injury in last season’s opening game, is said to have shown major strides this offseason and along with newcomer Cameron Cope, a new look receiver group will need to step up in order to give support to Prka.
Coeur d’Alene is currently scheduled to open the season hosting East Anchorage on Friday, August 21. But with possible adjustments to the schedule, the Vikings are preparing for multiple meetings with league rivals.
“With COVID-19, it appears our schedule will be adjusted. If we end up playing league opponents twice, it will provide challenges we must overcome,” Amos said.