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IMG_5812BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – When it comes to winning, expectations surrounding the Northern Lebanon football program have changed. But as the expectations have changed, so have those of the Vikings’ foes.

It’s hard to sneak up on people when you have a target on your back.

More and more, opponents are circling the dates with the Vikings on their schedules. And while that was certainly the case last year, it’s even more true this season.

IMG_5833Simply put, Northern Lebanon has become Lebanon County’s most consistent, most successful scholastic football program. The Vikings have won two straight Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three championships and qualified for two straight District Three Class AAA postseason tournaments.

The Vikings are no longer the hunters. They are the hunted.

“We want to be the champions of Fredericksburg. We want to win all of our home games,” said Roy Wall, the Vikings’ seventh-year head coach. “We want to win our section. Then we want to win a game. We want to win districts. And we want to win states. Our goals haven’t changed. We have to control was goes on between the lines. We can’t control what goes on  outside the lines.

IMG_5823“We’re playing team football,” continued Wall. “The players have bought into the program. The kids understand it’s not about stats and Division One scholarships, it’s about high school football. In the past, the kids were concerned with individual things. Our schedule has been significantly updated. We have to upgrade our level of execution because we’re facing better teams.”

But what may the truest test of the Vikings’ program is their ability to stay on top. While Northern Lebanon endured significant losses from a 2015 club that went 8-3 overall and 6-0 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, the Vikings also return a solid core group of proven performers, one that has developed a certain type of swagger.

IMG_5754“Last year we set out to repeat, and we won it,” said Wall. “But last year has nothing to do with this year. I don’t want to talk about last year. Let’s talk about this year. Last year’s over.

“Our senior class knows nothing but winning,” Wall continued. “When you establish a program, it’s an expectation. No one wants to be the class that lets it down. We expect to win games. The kids believe it. That’s the difference between the last two years and the first four.”

When everything shakes out and the dust settles, the Vikings may end up being as good as their offensive and defensive lines. That certainly has been the case over the past two seasons.

Senior running back Luke Funck is a beast and among the best players in Section Three. Junior quarterback Michigan Daub is a talented athlete who seems poised to follow in the footsteps of first Isaac Ray, and then Isaac Wengert, as the straw that stirs Wall’s deliberate offensive scheme.

IMG_5816But it will be the blocking up front that will allow Funck and Daub and company to do their things.

“We have to replace four starters on the offensive line,” said Wall. “That was an area of concern coming into training camp. We knew our second- and third-level kids and skill positions were pretty good. But I think our defense is going to be our strength, until the offense comes along.

“They’re progressing,” Wall added. “My goal was to find eight starters. We have to find eight, but we only have two or three guys up front with experience. We’re not as big, but we’re definitely more athletic.”

Northern Lebanon’s talented skill people are headed by versatile three-year starter Noah Smith, Christian Trader and Will Thompson. Throw Caleb Fisher, Dawson Else, Blaise Bressler, Stevie Herb, Tyler Shearer, Spencer Linton and Isaiah Davilla into the mix and suddenly the Vikings have the ability to catch, block on the outside, cover and come up to support the run.

“We have a number of skilled position players,” said Wall. “We have talented kids coming up. That wasn’t a real concern coming into this year.



“We need to get healthy,” added Wall. “We need to be tested and see what we have. We’ll see where we are. We’ll try to figure out where we’re going offensively. But our kids go into a game expecting to win.”

The Northern Lebanon football program has certainly benefited from the success that the Viking wrestling program has enjoyed over the last four or five winters. Funck, Bressler and Herb are all wrestlers who play football – or vice versa – as is Hunter Wallace and Luis Negreiros, who will provide Northern Lebanon with athleticism among its up-front eight.

IMG_5877“The wrestling program is going for ‘one for the thumb’,” said Wall of the Vikings’ wrestling prowess in Section Three of the L-L. “We have a lot of guys who are used to winning. The biggest reason why we started to improve was we’ve had such a good influx. We (football and wrestling) work well together. We have good athletes. We have tough kids. It’s been a benefit for football.”

The Vikings will open their 2016 campaign a week earlier than previous seasons, Friday, August 26th at perennial rival Pine Grove.

“I think their maturity is a strength,” said Wall. “We had 95 percent of our offense in by the end of heat acclimation (last week). We just have to keep repping and getting better. We have competition. Some guys aren’t happy about where they are on the depth chart, so we told them to do something about it. That’s the sign of a good program. We don’t rebuild, we reload. We’ll see how it shakes out. To be ‘The Man’, you’ve got to beat ‘The Man’, and no one’s (in Section Three) been able to do that over the last two years.”

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IMG_5785To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-11/.

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_5786 2016 Northern Lebanon Football Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
08/26
@Pine Grove
7:00 PM Pine Grove High School
09/09
@Cedar Crest
7:00 PM Cedar Crest High School
09/16
Hamburg
7:00 PM Northern Lebanon High School
09/16
@Daniel Boone
7:00 PM Daniel Boone High School
09/23 *
Pequea Valley
7:00 PM Northern Lebanon High School
09/30
York Suburban
7:00 PM Northern Lebanon High School
10/07 *
Donegal
7:00 PM Northern Lebanon High School
10/14 *
@Annville-Cleona
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
10/21 *
@Elco
7:00 PM Elco High School
10/28 *
Columbia
7:00 PM Northern Lebanon High School
11/04 *
Lancaster Catholic
7:00 PM Northern Lebanon High School

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IMG_58042015 Northern Lebanon Results

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
09/04
Pine Grove
7:00 PM L 0-2
09/11
@Lebanon
7:00 PM L 0-2
09/18
@Hamburg
7:00 PM W 36-25
09/25 *
Ephrata
7:00 PM W 57-26
10/02 *
@Pequea Valley
6:00 PM W 42-17
10/09
Williams Valley
7:00 PM W 16-13
10/16 *
Elco
7:00 PM W 44-41
10/23 *
Annville-Cleona
7:00 PM W 58-36
10/30 *
@Donegal
7:00 PM W 34-22
11/06 *
@Columbia
7:00 PM W 53-14
11/13 #
@Northeastern
7:00 PM L 12-48

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