There’s something comforting about seeing Tom Ingles walking around Sparks Stadium with a whistle around his neck. The longtime prep football coach is back for another year, leading perennial power Puyallup into the 2007 season.
And once again it looks like the Vikings should have a pretty solid squad. Sure they lost some very good players to graduation. FS/RB Aaron Brown is playing college football in California, and TNT all-area offensive lineman David Tyler is at Idaho State. Also gone is OL/DL Chris Duenas, feisty LB Nick Goretti, FB/LB Jeff Killsgaard and all-conference kicker Mike Jarrett.
But like the saying goes, Puyallup doesn’t rebuild, it just reloads. The Vikings still return all-SPSL RB/LB D.J. Williams, who has put on about 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason. Expect Williams to be the featured back, particular while fellow tailback and bruising runner James Shafer recovers from a torn MCL suffered at football camp this spring. All-SPSL center Jake Mains is also back to anchor a relatively inexperienced offensive line. He’ll get help from big tight end Rob Slettvet and receivers
“We’re not as big as we were last year, but we have some guys on the line that can run,” Ingles said.
The biggest change for Puyallup offensive will be at quarterback where Alec Elliott (6-3, 215) replaces Brian Price (5-9, 170). Price, a gritty competitor and tough leader, didn’t possess the big arm that Elliott has. The Vikings did extensive work on their passing game at the first practice showing a new look for the largely run based team.
“We’re adding some stuff in,” Ingles said. “When you to a 6-3 quarterback from a 5-9 quarterback you can do some different things with the passing game.”
Elliott has plenty of zip on his passes and can easily throw the ball down field, which is key because teams started loading up against Puyallup’s run game last season.
“They were just putting in eight in the box and daring us to pass,” Williams said.
Defensively, the Vikings are always solid. Williams led the SPSL in sacks with 10 last year, while fellow linebacker Kevin Friermuth led the SPSL in tackles. Like Williams, Friermuth added some much needed bulk to his frame and is up around 200 pounds.
“He really surprised me,” Ingles said. “I knew he was good, but to lead the league in tackles? It was just outstanding.”
If you had to pick a preseason SPSL South defensive player of the year, Friermuth would get my vote. He isn’t afraid of any ball carriers and has a knack for being in the right spot at the right time.
“He’s a great student of the game and understands how it flows,” Ingles said.