Vikings close out HAAC North

Friday, October 4, 2019

The past two seasons, the Missouri Valley College football team lost four of six games during the North Division part of the Heart of America Conference schedule.

This year, the Vikings have a chance to open 4-2, if they can beat William Penn during Saturday's clash at Gregg-Mitchell Field. They've put themselves into that position by beating the three North teams that are winless through five weeks, including Graceland during a 43-6 road victory last week.

"We had to wait around for it," Troth said, alluding to the three-hour rain delay prior to the start of the evening contest. "The kids knew what we needed to do. They came out and took care of business."

Valley (3-2) was able to both run and throw the ball effectively, but thus far have been unable to be consistent with any of it.

"We're settling into a little bit of who we are," Troth noted. "We also have guys in and out [with injuries], but everybody else does, too."

The Statesmen (1-3-1) appear to be a possible Valley victim, but Troth is "talking to the guys about not looking at their record. Look at the video."

William Penn looks much more dangerous that way. All of its games have been competitive, including a 47-11 loss to No. 2 Benedictine in which the Ravens pulled away with three fourth-quarter touchdowns. Last week, the Statesmen played Central Methodist to a 7-7 draw at halftime before the rest of the game was called due to weather.

Nor should the Vikings forget the 42-0 loss they were handed at William Penn a year ago.

"We got it handed to us," Troth recalled. He and the returning players "remember that. We'd like to go out and eliminate that thought of last year. We've just got to go out and do it, but that's the hard thing."

Especially concerning is the Statesmen's triple-option offense, which racked up 365 rushing yards. They're second in the conference in rushing offense this season (194.8 yards per game), but dead last in all passing categories -- including a miniscule 8.6 attempts per game.

"They haven't been scoring lot of points (12.4 per game), so we can't help them with turnovers," Troth said. "We'd like to make them drive the ball."

William Penn is more balanced defensively, dealing with both the run and pass effectively. It's defensive line will challenge the Vikings' blockers, as it "brings pressure and let their guys go make plays," according to Troth.

A year ago, Valley went into the second half of the season with two losses and a narrow win over Culver-Stockton -- and lost their first three games against South Division opponents. To go into that decisive stretch with a pair of victories would set a different tone.

"That's always better, going into the bye week feeling good," Troth conceded. "It appears the toughest games are to come."

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