Vikings hoping to speed through Western C
CHARLO — Mike Krahn's favorite duty as Charlo's new head football coach has been the paperwork.
"My favorite thing to do as a head coach has been erasing the height and weight on the old roster," said Krahn, who has been an assistant at Charlo the past eight years and their defensive coordinator the past three.
While the Vikings will be nowhere near the size that they've been in the past, most their skill players are returning a couple of inches taller and 10 to 20 pounds heavier and Krahn plans to exploit the skill players' recent growth spurts.
While Krahn said he and former coach Steve Love, who guided the Vikings to the playoffs five of the past six years, are very like-minded, the Vikings' offense will be a little bit more wide open than in year's past. It's a tendency that they started moving toward last year, when they went 8-2 and reached the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
"Our offense will be a little bit more spread than it has been because of our speed and size. We're not very big; our biggest player is 190 (pounds), but we have a lot of speed," Krahn said. "So, we're going to play to our strengths."
Speed is definitely one of the Vikings' strengths. They have three players that were on Charlo's state champion relay teams and Stephen Delaney was a state-placer in both hurdle races.
Quarterback Chico Stipe is probably the fastest Viking. The senior started taking snaps at the varsity level as a sophomore and started for them last year, receiving all-conference honors at the position. Krahn said while Stipe's speed and athletic ability is apparent on the field, what most people don't know is how football smart he is.
"He's a student of the game. It's like having another coach out there. If you give him a game tape, he'll wear it out," Krahn said.
Stipe will also lead the Vikings on defense. He was an all-state outside linebacker the past season and the Western C Defensive Co-MVP.
Austin Bauer, a 185-pound junior, is one of the skill players that grew two inches and gained 10 pounds during the offseason. Bauer, an all-conference receiver last year, is a triple threat for the Vikings. He can play receiver, quarterback and running back – he is also an all-state punter.
Tra Ludeman, a sophomore, had his coming out party in the second half of the Vikings' playoff game against Sheridan, rushing for 48 yards and a TD on eight carries in the fourth quarter. Ludeman, another triple threat for the Vikings, has also grown during the season, but it's his change in attitude that's has impressed his coach.
"His total demeanor at practice has changed. He knows what's going on and he's always up front and ready to go," Krahn said.
Delaney, a junior, could also spend time in the backfield or as a receiver for the Vikings. He will also play opposite Stipe at the linebacker position. During a football camp this summer, Krahn said Delaney was hitting so hard that he had to look twice to make sure it wasn't Stipe.
Senior Chance Rosenbaum will be the only returning starting lineman for the Vikings. With his workman-like style of play Rosenbaum earned all-conference honors last season as a defensive end and offensive guard.
"He's not going to stop until the whistle. If he's hitting you, you better get out of his way or shed him, because he's not going to stop hitting you," Krahn said.
Seniors Chris Hernandez-Kelley and Joel Lewis should join Rosenbaum on the line. Hernandez-Kelley, also the Vikings' kicker, had the best weight room attendance during the offseason and Joel Lewis, at 190 pounds, is the Vikings heaviest player.
Krahn said also look to Ross Fullerton and Kolton Andrews to have breakout years for the Vikings. Both our coming off injuries.
Krahn expects conference champs Drummond to be tough again, despite a large graduating class last year. He also said the Warriors, who finished third last season, has most their starters returning and have a lot of depth and should be a real test for the Vikings.
The Vikings start the season playing the Blackhawks at Seeley Lake, Sept. 3. There first home game isn't until Sept. 24, when they host Victor.