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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Vikings challenged by No. 22 Baker

Friday, September 23, 2011

Vikings fans could get their first home view of freshman quarterback Bruce Reyes during Saturday's tilt against No. 22 Baker.
(Chris Allen/Democrat-News)
Despite a 49-0 win, Missouri Valley College head football coach Paul Troth wasn't entirely pleased with his team's performance last week at Avila.

"I wasn't very happy with out intensity early," he declared. "Our opponent was way more excited to play than we were."

That's somewhat understandable from one perspective: having already beaten defending Heart of America Conference champion MidAmerica Nazarene, the sixth-ranked Vikings are focused in every foe's sights.

"Good teams play well every week," Troth said. "That's what we have to do, no matter who we play."

Now that it has bounced back from an upset loss at Evangel two weeks ago, No. 22 Baker will clearly take aim at the home team Saturday when it enters Gregg-Mitchell Field -- and has the weapons to strike a blow.

"It's one of the best Baker teams I've seen in a long time," Troth noted. "They're faster and the kids they had last year and older and more experienced."

One of those is sophomore quarterback Jake Morse, who has completed 72 of 131 passes for 905 yards and six touchdowns -- the Kansas transfer now taking over the reins full-time. Morse can spread the ball around, with senior tailback John Babb logging 18 catches and junior wideout Jake Green averaging 17.8 yards on his 16 receptions.

"They know how to attack defenses, how to attack your weaknesses," Troth explained. "They can attack any part of the field."

While the Wildcats (3-1, 2-1 HAAC) lead the league in passing offense, they're also ranked third on the ground -- the bulk coming from Babb, with 368 yards on 46 carries for an 8.0-yard average gain.

"They're getting big plays from their running backs, and that's scary," Troth confessed.

Baker's defense has also been stingy, allowing only 17.3 points and 237.0 yards per game, which is third in the loop. The 'Cats' four-man line is stout, and junior linebackers Ryder Werts and Adam Steele have had an impact with 64 tackles -- nine for losses -- and three interceptions.

"They do a good job of using their hands and playing off their blocks," Troth said about Baker's defensive front. "They don't stay blocked."

The Vikings (3-0, 2-0) introduced freshman quarterback Bruce Reyes last week, and he's expected to share the spot with sophomore Lorenzo Dennard.

"We just want the most productive players out there," Troth said. "We feel we have multiple guys who can move the offense."

So who plays the most "goes down to who's the most productive on any given night," Troth offered.

Valley hopes at least one of them will be, or the running game can dictate the tempo, or special teams can produce a touchdown or two for the fourth week in a row. One way or the other, Baker is one of the most formidable foes left on the Vikings' schedule, and thus is a "must" win.

"We're not even thinking about the big picture," Troth said. "We still have control over where we finish in the conference.

"If we want to win the conference, we have to beat Baker."

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