The Parsons Vikings football team for the past couple of seasons identity has been quickness and athleticism on the field.
First-year head coach Jeff Schibi seeks to turn his team’s identity into a hard-hitting athletic football squad.
“We want the opposing team to say the Parsons Vikings were the hardest-hitting, toughest team we played this year, which has not been the case since the fall of 2003,” said Schibi.
Experience is a strength for the Vikings football team this year. Schibi estimates they have close to 15 seniors out.
“Contrary to last season, senior leadership (is) one of our team’s biggest strengths,” commented the Vikings coach. “In addition, we have several returning starters and part-time starters.”
Parsons football welcomes back seven offensive starters in 2020.
Once again, Quarterback Ethan Houk is the signal-caller for the Vikings. The 6’1″ 185 lbs senior threw for 1,754 yards with 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The Parsons quarterback earned All-State Honorable Mention in 2019. SixStarFootball.com identifies Houk as an underrated quarterback in Kansas.
In addition to Houk’s athleticism, the Vikings offense showcases plenty of experience on offense.
Senior Yusef Kindrick steps into the carry duties for the Vikings. The 5’9″ 205 lbs running back rushed for over 400 yards last season with seven touchdowns.
“In contrast, we need to be able to consistently run the football on offense,” said Schibi. “Teams were able to drop more defenders in coverage because we never showed the ability to run the football in an effective manner.”
Joining Kendrick in the skills positions are Tanner Barcus and Julius Smith-Reece. Barcus hauled in two touchdowns with his 196 yards. Julius narrowly missed the 200-yard mark last season, as well.
Along with experience at skills positions, Parsons brings back plenty of that on the offensive line.
The physical presence of seniors Cooper Woodworth, Joey Goldsmith, and Ricky Ellis should be a force against opposing defenses. The trio up front combines for a staggering 670 lbs. Along with stiff competition from underclassmen for the final spots on the line, Parsons should have no trouble in the trenches.
“We have the pieces to have a respectable running game,” commented the Vikings coach. “Football games are won in the trenches, so good offensive and defensive line play will be important to our success.”
Alternatively, the Parsons defense looks to improve on giving up points to their opponents. Last season, the Vikings defense surrendered an average of 38 points per game.
Four of the eight starters on defense doubles on offense for the Parsons Vikings.
Team leading tackler Ricky Ellis returns on the defensive line in 2020. Defensive back Gavin Salyer, the 2nd leading team tackler, returns for Parsons football team.
Senior Landon Collins joins Woodworth in leading the linebacking core. Collins, 5’8 225 lbs, hopes to improve on his 27 tackles, two sacks, and 3 caused fumbles.
“Without a doubt, priority number one is being able to stop the run on defense,” emphasized Schibi. “Teams were able to consistently run the football on us and sustain long drives, which ate up clock and exhausted our defense.”
The Parsons Vikings will switch their defense to a 5-2 base for the 2020 season.
If Schibi’s team can buy into the “hard-hitting” mentality, it will serve the Vikings well in district play.
Parsons joins Galena, Caney Valley, Baxter Springs, Columbus, and Cherryvale battling for a 3A playoff spot.
The Galena and Caney Valley football programs have received the reputation for being some of the hardest-hitting defenses in Southeast Kansas.
Baxter Springs and Columbus both are under the direction of first-year head coaches.
“Our guys know and believe that they can beat anybody on our schedule,” said Schibi. “However, that attitude needs to translate to the playing field and prove they can beat anybody on the schedule.”
The Parsons Vikings varsity football season begins on Friday, September 4th, on the road against Anderson County.