The historic season authored by the Parkview football team last year has left the program wanting even more as the 2013 season inches closer.
Led by a confident trio of senior defensive players, the Vikings appear to have the pieces in place to replicate last year’s playoff run, which featured the program’s postseason win — and came only a few years after a terrible losing streak.
“I’m excited because we had that good year last year and I want to see how we’ll do this year,” senior linebacker Braden Rohrbaugh said. “We’re just using last year as fuel to show people we aren’t going anywhere.”
Rohrbaugh, along with senior defensive backs Maurice Downey and Danny Johnson, will form the backbone of a Parkview defense that may have to carry the load early on as the Vikings work to replace the offensive talents of graduated quarterback Landan Ruff and running back Cole Jenkins.
The three are part of a defensive unit that returns seven starters.
“All three were high-production guys in our defense last year,” Vikings coach Anthony Hays said. “They’re guys that are Parkview through and through. They went all the way through the Parkview feeder system. Through Jarrett Middle School … they played on our freshman team.
“They have been waiting, and now have played all the way through their senior year. So I’m excited for them and the things they’ve accomplished and the things they want to accomplish as seniors.”
Entering his third season as head coach, Hays said he knows he can lean on the three for leadership. All three earned all-conference, all-district and all-area accolades last season. Rohrbaugh led the team with 106 tackles while Johnson had 104. Downey had two interceptions and five pass breakups.
“We’ve got a bunch of great leadership on the field,” Downey said. “We have a bunch of great athletes ready to go make plays and have the experience of playing varsity. We don’t have to worry about guys trying to shake the rust off. We’re ready.”
Vikings’ defensive coordinator Gary Hurst said the trio fits what he wants in his 4-4 scheme. The former Glendale head coach has been at Parkview for five seasons, and the familiarity with his scheme, from seniors on down, plays a critical role in the unit’s success.
“It’s helped, being over here for five years,” Hurst said. “They know me, and they know what to expect. And it helps to have had success. We’re all trying to reach the same goals.”
Those goals include a return to the playoffs. Parkview won its first playoff game last season, downing Willard 49-28 before falling to Lee’s Summit West in the Class 5, District 6 final.
That capped a historic 8-3 season for the Vikings, who finished with the most wins in a season in school history, and a school-record 6-0 start.
The year started with a 17-15 win over Kickapoo, when the Vikings made a field goal with 1:12 left in the game. They then hung on as the Chiefs missed a potential game-winning kick with five seconds to play.
The teams meet again Friday to open this season.
“We can’t wait,” Downey said. “It’s kind of an in-town, kind of like a rival thing. I know they’re going to want some payback from last year, but we want to prove that we’re here to stay. It’s going to be big.”
Should Parkview win the rematch, it could set the Vikings up for another run at the postseason. That’s something the team isn’t shying away from.
“There’s still a lot of doubters out there,” Johnson said. “We just want to do better — prove that we are the team we were last year. That we’re better than last year. And we’re going to do that.”