Vikings continue North tour at Culver-Stockton
The Missouri Valley College football team has found the same formula to victory the first two weeks of the season: build a substantial first-half lead and then turn it over to the defense.
Vikings head coach Paul Troth "will take that any time," especially the second-half shutouts by the defense - which is ranked 12th in the NAIA against the run (73.0 yards per game).
"We've always prided ourselves on playing good defense," Troth said. "The kids are playing hard and buying in."
Keep in mind, though, that Valley has yet to play one of the power teams of the Heart of America Conference North Division, against which it has gone 4-8 the past two years.
"We still have ranked teams ahead" on the schedule, Troth reminded. "as long as we meet the challenge each week and focus on that, we should be all right."
Culver-Stockton is a long-time league rival who hasn't been ranked during Troth's term, although it has given some good MVC squads difficulty at times. This could be one of those occasions Saturday when the Vikings head to Canton.
"They've played everybody tough," Troth noted about the Wildcats (1-1), coming off a 20-13 overtime decision at Central Methodist. "I thought they had a good football team last year, better than their record, and we were lucky to get by them."
Senior kicker Austin Johnson, who has won the HAAC special teams "player of the week" award each of the first two weeks, booted four field goals to give Valley a 26-16 home win against the 'Cats a year ago. The Vikings (2-0) are hoping that he won't play so critical a role this time around, but Culver's 3-3 stack defense could be a problem. It's been solid against both the run (166.5 ypg) and pass (211.5), but gave up 44 points against Baker in the opener.
"What stands out is that their kids fly to the football," Troth said. "That's half the battle right there: sprinting to the ball."
The Wildcats have been balanced on offense (293.0 ypg), but have a league-high four fumbles. Junior quarterback Korbin Marcum is a third-year starter who has thrown four touchdowns without a pick. At 6-foot-4, he can stand in the pocket and pick apart defenses.
"He really does a nice job and has one of the better offensive lines in the conference," Troth said. "He'll move around and does some things. He distributes the ball and executes the offense."
Culver-Stockton may not have enough to play the Vikings as they performed the first two weeks, but plenty dangerous is there's slippage.
"We need to limit their possessions, score early and execute the offense," Troth said. "We need to stay on the field, get first downs and put points on the scoreboard."
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