As tough as the AV-CTL Division I and II are for high school football teams, Division III may be the toughest of them all.
The Winfield Vikings know that all too well.
The Vikings, who are coming off a loss to state-power Buhler, return home tonight to face even more formidable McPherson.
The Bullpups (3-0, 1-0 AV-CTL D-III) are coming off a 31-13 victory against Great Bend and have outscored the opposition 118-38.
“Throughout my career I’ve always tried to study championship programs and find out what they’re doing,” WHS coach Linn Hibbs said. “First of all, they have really good players, really good body types — good genetics. You combine that with really good coaching, really good training — grades 7-12 — and a really good support system with the community and the mindset toward athletics, that’s a great combination. A ton of people deserve a lot of credit for their success.”
Buhler defeated the Vikings (1-2, 0-1) last week 21-9. Winfield has been held to 23 points in the three games.
“From our side, there’s nothing we can do about our schedule. We know the challenge ahead,” Hibbs said. “But our kids are improving, there’s no question about it. Sometimes you can’t look at the scoreboard and see improvement.”
The Vikings kept Buhler in check much of the game last week, holding the Crusaders to 14 points until midway through the fourth quarter. Winfield, however, was just 3 of 10 on third-down conversions and finished with just 47 rushing yards while giving up 249 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Riley Yingling was 13-of-21 passing for 153 yards, hooking up with Trent Beckwith on a 33-yard touchdown pass. Austin Bryant booted a 23-yard field goal for Winfield’s other points.
“We’re going to have to play really, really well, but we’re going to have to do that with everybody we play,” Hibbs said. “You still have to prepare and play. We need some breaks, we need some takeaways — we need to win the takeaway margin.”
The schedule eases up drastically after this week.
The Vikings have Homecoming next weekend against Towanda-Circle, play back-to-back road games at Augusta and Rose Hill, and head into the Week 9 playoff with a home game against El Dorado. Those four teams have a combined 3-9 record.
“I can’t emphasize enough how our kids are getting better,” Hibbs said. “We like what our kids are doing. They deserve to be challenged and we’re going to challenge.”