By Lucas Wright
“I thought the first five days of practice we had were as good as the two years we were in the playoffs.”
Vienna-Goreville football head coach Mike Rude showed some high praise for his team at the beginning of the second week of practice on Monday. The V-G Eagles are just over a week into the season, but to Rude and his crew, it feels like they are picking up right where they left off last season.
“I think we are even ahead of where we were at the end of the season last year,” Rude said. “We are light-years ahead of last year where we were defensively. I feel like we could play tomorrow night.”
While the Eagles may be chomping at the bit to open their season, the team still has over a week of practice until it meets Christopher next Friday night on the road. The Eagles do have a good chance to get off on the right foot in the Black Diamond Conference, considering the team defeated the Bearcats 27-8 to round out last year’s season.
One of the biggest factors leading to Rude’s optimism has been the team’s leadership since the end of last season. There was a huge uptick in attendance at summer workouts up to “20 or 21” from “five or six” in the past. Rude cited the senior leadership as the catalyst in getting his team prepared in the offseason.
Rude will be relying heavily on that leadership going into the season, with upperclassmen filling out the majority of the skill positions. Headlining the backfield will be junior Logyn Frassato at quarterback, and seniors Nolan Dahncke at tailback and Peyton Massey at fullback.
With those three leading the offense, Rude plans to stay true to his offensive philosophy.
“Offensively we should look the same as we did last year against Christopher and Edwards County. We’re running the same offense, so the kids should be familiar with it. We just have to fine tune it,” Rude said. “We’re going to hand the ball off to Massey, we’re going to hand the ball off to Dahncke, we’re going to hand the ball off to some of our wingbacks and we’re going to run the ball.”
With the offense in place and the defense looking stronger than in the past, now it boils down to two numbers for the Eagles: wins and losses. The team bounced back to two wins last year after just one win in the previous two seasons, but Rude sees this season as one full of potential.
“I look at three (games) we can definitely win, I think there’s three that will be difficult to win and I think there’s three that at just sitting there and somebody has to win them,” Rude said. “Five (wins) is a possibility. I’m not so sure it is a realistic possibility, but you would like to think you could shoot for the playoffs.”
The Eagles open their season on the road at Christopher on August 25th at 7 p.m. V-G will host Eldorado for its home opener September 2nd at 1:00 p.m.