The Vikings were impressive last week during their season-opening 47-10 blowout of 12th-ranked McPherson (Kan.), racking up 486 yards in total offense and allowing only 132.
"There's something that looked good in all three phases on the game," remarked MVC head coach Paul Troth. "Offensively, we got off to a rocky start, but started getting things going consistently."
Troth admits that coming out of the gate slowly could be more problematic during its Heart of America Conference debut against defending champion MidAmerica Nazarene. Valley's 37-7 road loss a year ago in Olathe, Kan., still rankles, and "there's definitely a matter of pride" involved in the rematch with the No. 3 Pioneers.
"We played so poorly on offense, we didn't give ourselves a chance," Troth noted about the four-turnover performance. "We need to get a rhythm going early, and hopefully that will help us."
The Vikings are a very different team in the skill positions this season. Troth thought sophomore quarterback Lorenzo Dennard "made some big plays and avoided sacks" and "it was nice to get big plays" from the running backs -- such as sophomore Keith O'Neal's 66-yard touchdown run following a one-hour lightning delay.
"It's going to be by committee, but we have some guys who can make that play," Troth said about his tailback corps.
MidAmerica Nazarene (1-0, 1-0 HAAC) began its campaign by blanking Central Methodist, 24-0, its first shutout in two years, but its offense poses a big challenge. Junior quarterback Sean Ransburg was a difference-maker for the Pioneers the last time they played Valley, throwing for 247 yards and three touchdowns.
"He's very, very good," Troth said. "You just try to slow him down and hopefully he'll make a mistake."
Ransburg was shaken up and didn't play the second half against the Eagles, but some believe his back-up, senior Tyler Herd, is just as dangerous. He completed 18 of 27 passes for 288 yards in leading MidAmerica to a come-from-behind 28-27 victory at Gregg-Mitchell Field in 2009, a game decided by a field goal at the gun.
The closeness of that late-season game didn't scuttle the Vikings' playoff bid, and Troth realizes that the outcome of this September clash will have even less of an impact.
"No matter what happens, we have a lot of football games left and we have a lot of good teams to play," Troth declared. Still, "if we want to control our own destiny, we need to win."