TROUTMAN—Losing half its starters to graduation leaves 11 voids to fill at South Iredell.
On the bright side, the Vikings have almost 70 players at their disposal. Depth shouldn’t be an issue this season.
“I don’t think it will be a down year at all,” said head coach Scott Miller, who guided the Vikings to a share of the North Piedmont Conference championship with Statesville in 2018.
“We’ve got a lot of numbers, a lot of first-year varsity players. We’ve just got to, as a team and as a staff, figure out where players fit best.”
A healthy Alterek Adams would be a plus in the wake of a 7-6 season that ended in the second round of the 3AA playoffs with a loss to eventual state champion Weddington. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound senior running back missed considerable playing time in 2018 due to injuries. It started with a torn hamstring suffered on the first practice day permitting full contact.
In October, Adams hurt his shoulder during the West Rowan game.
“He was banged up all year,” Miller said. “At best he was 75 percent at any point.”
Adams’ production took a hit as a result. He rushed for only 586 yards and five touchdowns. He did average five yards per carry.
“Anytime you get an injury you want to make up for it. It motivates you,” Miller said. “He worked real hard in the offseason.”
An obvious question, like last year, is who takes over at quarterback. And like last year, the Vikings spent the preseason figuring out who their opening night starter would be: junior Bryce Klinger, junior Matt Sherrill, or senior Sage Uphoff?
Whoever takes the snaps will have more than suitable options—led by Darius Smyre—to throw the ball to. The 5-11, 165-pound senior posted some of the best receiving stats in the county a year ago. He hauled in 63 passes for 637 yards and five touchdowns.
Smyre doubles as a defensive back.
“Darius will be our only two-way player,” Miller said. “…He’s just that good.”
Three of the seven returning offensive starters are linemen: Sam Buff, Will Winterhalter, and Juan Gomez.
That is encouraging to Miller. So is the get-after-it mentality of his defensive players competing for playing time. The Vikings returned only four starters on that side of the ball.
“I think we’ll get good experience with a fairly tough nonconference schedule,” Miller said.
Highlighting that slate of games is a Sept. 27 trip to Greensboro to face Dudley. The Panthers were 10-4 last year and reached the third round of the 3AA playoffs before losing 21-18 to eventual state runner-up Southeast Guilford.
Along for the ride is Cody Gilliland, who joins the South Iredell coaching staff. He becomes the fifth former Vikings player on Miller’s staff. Gilliland starred at linebacker and went on to play at Gardner-Webb.
“I like that because they have an invested interest in seeing this program do well,” Miller said. “They have a certain pride about it.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
T.J. Boller: He is a returning starter who is listed as a middle linebacker/defensive end. The 6-foot, 240-pound senior had a respectable junior year, tallying six tackles for losses, three sacks and 55 total tackles. “He’s quick off the ball,” Miller said. “He’s smart and very coachable. He’s a bull. He’s hard to block.”
Cullen Smith: He provides the Vikings with a solid 1-2 punch in the receiving corps. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior caught 42 passes for 498 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago. Don’t be surprised if those numbers spike a bit this season.
Darius Smyre: The 5-foot-11, 165-pound senior is a dynamic receiver who can haul in the deep ball or pick up yards after the catch on shorter throws. As a junior he was one of the most productive in the county, making 63 receptions for 637 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged almost four yards per carry when his number was called as a running back. Defensive highlights included victory-clinching interceptions against Statesville and West Rowan.
VIKINGS AT A GLANCE
Head coach: Scott Miller, 10th season
Miller’s record: 91-30
Assistant coaches: Devin Radcliff, Rydell Cowan, Marcus Chambers, JP Culp, Travis Elliott Offensive, Mario Freeman, Lee Linville, Torey Torrence, Nate White, Steve Winterhalter, Cody Gilliland
Returning starters: Offense 7, Defense 4
2018 Record: 7-6 (4-1)
Rocky River, L 26-9
West Iredell, W 54-7
Lake Norman, W 17-8
Cox Mill, L 28-7
Mooresville, L 38-7
West Forsyth, L 41-27
Statesville, W 20-19
West Rowan, W 48-41 (2OT)
East Rowan, L 24-7
Carson, W 35-14
North Iredell, W 54-6
SW Guilford, W 33-21
Weddington, L 33-6
Aug. 23 vs. Cuthbertson
Aug. 30 vs. West Iredell
Sept. 6 vs. Lake Norman
Sept. 13 at Alexander Central
Sept. 20 vs. Davie County
Sept. 27 at Greensboro Dudley
Oct. 11 vs. Statesville*
Oct. 18 at West Rowan*
Oct. 25 vs. East Rowan*
Nov. 1 at North Iredell*
Nov. 8 vs. Carson*
*-North Piedmont Conference game