Vikings football enter season with something to prove

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Newly appointed Charlo High School football coach Reese Cox still is assessing his team’s personnel as the Charlo High School football program prepares to enter a new era.

After the first week of practices, the Vikings have already added players to its roster and solidified a starting quarterback, which has Cox optimistic about his team’s chances moving forward.

“I am up to 23 players, but we have a couple of players that still have to put in their required ten practices to get their eligibility up, and we have a good 20 players that will be ready to go by our first game of the season,” Cox said. “Our team is pretty good, and it looks like we have some time to shake off the cobwebs. We are experienced in some spots and young at others, and during the season we will have to go through some growing pains.”

Offensively, the Vikings will look very different this season without their top-tier player Landers Smith, who graduated and is now playing at Montana Tech.

“We have some outstanding looking players and a good starting core, while offensively, we look good because we are fast in the backfield and upfront, and very powerful in the backfield,” Cox said. “We are very fast upfront, and have receivers with great hands. We have excellent communication in play-calling.”

The last couple of seasons, Charlo’s success has been predicated on their quarterback position with Landers Smith, but this year they will have a new signal-caller for the Vikings.

In 2016, the Vikings started Smith at quarterback, who was a sophomore at that time, and the results were excellent. Smith led the Vikings to a berth in the Montana High School Association 8-man football championship appearance, guiding his team to a second-place MHSA Class C, 8-man football win.

Nagy, who like Smith, was a sophomore when he got the nod as a starting quarterback, is starting to become Charlo’s go-to guy.

“He sees the field, and he sees the field well, he’s smart and he understands that one of my strategies is playing that chess match,” Cox said. “He stays in the pocket, and is mentally tough. He is going to stay in the pocket until the last second because he needs to stay there until he can get the pass off. He can get that pass off, and moves around when the pocket is playable. He moves within the pocket, steps up in it and finds a way to pick up yards.”

Cox said he likes his pre-snap reads that he continues to progress on as he gains additional experience as a signal-caller.

“He sees the ball before it is snapped, and sees it after the snap, and his reads are good,” Cox said. “He is good at reading what comes to him. He probably thinks two or three plays ahead on what he wants to run. You can communicate with him on what you want to do, and what you want to try. I think he is so smart, and I can trust in that.”

Dictating the tempo

Charlo is looking to dictate the pace with a combination of runs and passes, and the Vikings have their personnel that can play both the run and the pass.

“We look at ball control offense, and we are always going after the ball,” Cox said. “We should come out with a big strength defensively. Isaiah Allick has a great nose for the ball and scrimmaged around, and he gets near the ball every time. During practice, he had two interceptions, and one went for a pick-six and was pretty close. When we work, we will still break for positions and tackling drills. We also work on how to strip the ball with each other, and one guy is in charge of creating a turnover out of it.”

The Vikings, who will play their season-opening game against Plains High School, isn’t sure what to expect in what is anticipated to be a wide-open conference.

“We just have to stick with one game at a time, and I haven’t even prepped for Arlee or Flint Creek because we are focusing on Plains, and that will be our true test,” Cox said. “That is what we are excited for. They are just excited to have a game finally and hit someone in a different colored jersey. We will see where our strengths and weaknesses are.”

The Vikings are a team who many assessed will not be the same team,

“That is the big goal is to win the opener, and we are living with the idea of ‘why not us?’,” Cox said “Everyone is counting us out, and we are the underdog. We have nothing to loose on this, we just have to go out there and compete.’”

Two out of the last three seasons, the Charlo Vikings have competed for the Montana High School Class C, 8--man football championship.

Both in 2016, and 2017, the Vikings qualified for the playoffs, and competed for a Class C, 8-man championship title.

The football program, which began in 1959, and was run by former Vikings’ coach Mike Krahn, is now being operated by Charlo High School coach Reese Cox.

Cox, who became one of the top-tier basketball coaches in the MHSA Class C Western Montana Class C conference, will now try his hands at being a head football coach for the first-ever time in his young career.

Cox, said he felt confident headed into the first half of the season, trying to win a conference, and a compete in the MHSA Class C, 8-man football playoffs, which is one of the most competitively dynamic districts in the entire region, and possibly the state.

The Vikings, who lost MHSA’s most dynamic player to graduation, Landers Smith, hope to replace him, as they move forward in the 2019 season.

The Vikings have been traditionally one of the top-tier teams in the conference year, after year in football.

The Charlo football team has finished second in the MHSA Class C, 8-man championship game during the 2016 season.

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