In a normal year, the Northwest Vikings spring practices would have long been over by now with a scheduled conclusion of May 8. They would also have several of their uncertainties cleared up by now.
Alas, in this coronavirus-clouded season, those questions remain unanswered with the lack of practices up to this point.
“As spring practice and X’s and O’s go, we were trying to find out what we were going to look like going forward,” said head coach Neil Furnish. “We had some things in mind, but you have to see the kids in action to know if that’s really the direction you want to go in.”
The Vikings started 3-0 in 2019 before losing out to a 3-8 final record. That team will lose several key players, especially at skill positions, forcing Furnish and his staff to reconstruct the way they intend to play for 2020.
As of now, they expect to rely on the ground game behind a strong group of linemen, tight ends and fullbacks.
“We’re going to be young, we’ve got a really solid group of linemen and that’s always going to be an advantage to any program, if your group of big boys up front are good you can do some things behind that. That’s definitely our strong point at Northwest right now,” Furnish said.
“We’re going to have a bunch of juniors and a few sophomores that are going to have to play big-time roles right now.”
Unfortunately, those groups are among the most important in the game when it comes to the weight room – which no player has access to outside their own home.
Additionally, the Vikings struggled to find an answer under center in 2019. They ended up on their fifth-string quarterback by season’s end, forcing them to constantly adapt. With no clear answer at the position currently, spring practice was going to be where their top group of QBs began to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Three players were named as potential starters along with two additional prospects. Going off their experience from last year, though, they’ll look to add as much depth as possible.
Furnish also aims to simplify the playbook so that if – or when – a new player is put in the starting spot, minimal changes are needed.
For now, they’re just doing what they can.
“We’re keeping up with our kids,” Furnish said. “Our coaches are all assigned a few kids and we try to keep up with them weekly. No. 1 was making sure academics are taken care of.
“We had weekly Zoom meetings all the way up until our spring practice. I used that as an opportunity to talk some football with them and meet with them. We give them weekly workouts and continue to do that.”
Furnish has three plans in place depending on when the team is allowed to get back to work. He hopes that things will return to relative normalcy by July 6 but is prepared to improvise should August come without an update.