By William

LINDSBORG – It was a struggle in 2019 for the Smoky Valley football team, but they return a good nucleus of starters to blend with a solid group of youngsters to find success in 2020.

Viking Head Coach Tim Lambert is heading into his sixth season as the man in charge and will be looking for a big improvement over a disappointing 3-6 mark in 2019 that included just one win in five games of district play. Lambert knows how to win as he is 32-19 in his time at Smoky Valley and has an overall record of 197-90 in 27 seasons as a head coach.

Assisting Lambert as they run a power I offense and a basic 4-3-4 defense will be James Henderson, Chris McClure, Ben Elliott, Chuck Peters, and Allan Meier.

With the Vikings having just 15 returning letter winners, they will have to get good leadership from their seniors while looking for some strong play from the youngsters.

Of the 15 lettermen, seven do return as offensive starters while five defensive starters will give Coach Lambert a core of experience to work with including four of his five offensive linemen.

The returning starters for the offense will include senior quarterback Jake Lucas, senior wide receiver Brandt Heble, junior tight end Haven Lysell-Stewart along with four senior offensive linemen in Kort Sjogren, Skyler Hopkins, Brandon Malm and Tanner Luttig. Three of the four returning linemen weigh in over 200 pounds which will give Smoky Valley good size for a Class 3A school.

When the Vikings are on defense, they will be led by returning starters Heble at cornerback, Sjogren and Lysell-Stewart at linebacker and Luttig and Hopkins along the defensive line.

As Coach Lambert reflected on the upcoming season he noted, “We have some young men that have quality varsity experience and they all should be bigger, faster and stronger than a year ago. We will need a significant number of younger players to step up early in the season.”

“A key to a having a winning season will be getting stronger in the weight room and trying our best to avoid injuries throughout the season,” added Coach Lambert. “We will definitely have to play very hard and I am hoping our determination to prove ourselves will play a big role in our success this season.”

Concluding his reflections, Coach Lambert said, “Getting off to a good start to the season could play a big role in how we end up. We have a good blend of experience and youth.”

The Vikings will open their 2020 season on Friday, September 4th when they play host to Halstead. The remainder of the schedule will have a home game with Haven on September 11th, a road trip to Hillsboro on September 18th, back home to play Colby on September 25, a pair of road games at Goodland and Scott City on October 2nd and 9th before getting their final home matchup with Southeast of Saline on October 16th and then closing out the regular season on October 23rd with a road game at Russell.

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