Friday, October 19, 2018

Sports

Prep football: Colfax’s revamped defense keys turnaround

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    Colfax players grapple during a punt return drill at practice on Wednesday in Colfax. The Vikings are off to a 3-1 start this season.

    Staff photo by Spencer Flaten
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COLFAX — For the past two years, defense wasn’t exactly a strength for the Colfax football team. The scoreboard often backed that up.

The Vikings totaled just two wins over the last two seasons, and surrendered 30 or more points in 15 games during that span — the first two seasons under the guidance of coach Matt DeMoe.

Year three? The numbers are better — significantly.

The Vikings are 3-1 this fall, surpassing their number of wins from the last two seasons by Week 5 of this year. All of their victories have come in blowout fashion, and the defense, which had been porous at times in years past, has held opponents to less than 20 points in all of the team’s wins.

“We have great kids that are working together,” DeMoe said. “Defensively, we have a little bit more of an edge this year. We’ve been kind of a sieve the last couple of years defensively, but we’ve gotten better and I think that’s helped us out a ton.”

In victories this season, the Vikings are limiting opponents to an average of 13 points per game.

That’s coming off the back of a 42-8 win over Boyceville last week. Colfax held the Bulldogs to 103 yards of offense.

“I think our defensive line has definitely stepped it up this year,” junior cornerback Cole Kiekhafer said. “And we’ve got good cornerbacks, linebackers. Everybody’s just improved from last year.”

For as solid as the defense has been in Colfax’s wins, its offense has done its share of the work too. The Vikings are averaging 31 points per game this season, and have only been held to single digits on the scoreboard once: a 45-6 loss to Mondovi in Week 4.

“Our line is really doing a lot better, and we’re working a lot better as a team,” said junior Mitch Harmon, who scored two touchdowns last week. “We’re able to run the ball, and if that’s not working, we’re able to pass the ball.”

Some height at the wide receiver position has helped Colfax, and the Vikings’ passing game is reaping the benefits.

Quarterback Noah Albricht is approaching the 1,000-yard mark through the air already this season. He passed for 158 yards and a touchdown in the win over Boyceville. In the team’s 34-12 victory over Neillsville/​Granton, he passed for 341 yards.

“We’ve got some taller wide receivers this year, and we’ve got Noah to sling them the ball. That’s helped a lot,” Harmon said.

This is the first multi-win season and best start for Colfax since 2014, when the Vikings went 6-3 and made the playoffs.

DeMoe said there’s been a buy-in attitude from the players, and its paying off on Friday nights.

“Everybody just gets the big picture of what we’re trying to do,” he said. “Everybody’s on board, and that’s a good feeling to have. ... I think everybody that’s out here is doing what they need to do for the team because they want to do it, they want to be part of this.”

Team chemistry has benefited from that too. That, in turn, has led to better play on the field and a higher number in the win column.

“We work pretty well together,” Kiekhafer said. “We’ve been playing together probably since first grade, so we know each other really well. So we work well as a team.”


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