By Chris Parker
Parkview football will be looking to bounce back from a 1-9 season with a host of key returning players.
Junior quarterback Caden Burks leads the returning starters. He threw for 1,279 yards last year as a sophomore.
“He has gotten a lot more mature. You want the quarterback to be a team leader on any team that you have, and he has stepped into that role for us this summer. He has been someone that I can count on to talk to other kids and get them motivated. I have seen a lot of growth out of him in that aspect, but also he has just gotten a lot better. He is throwing a more catchable ball this summer. We are expecting a lot of big things from him this year,” Parkview head coach Ben Dougherty said.
He will be protected by one of the area’s most experienced lines that features four returning starters. Senior Nick Litchy will enter his second year as a starter and play left tackle. Classmate Devin Holt is a three-year starter who will hold down the left guard positions. Thomas Du Brul rounds out the returning senior starters on the line at right guard. Sophomore Eric Anderson returns at center after being inserted into the starting lineup late last year as a freshman.
That group will try to give Burks time to find a deep stable of pass catchers.
The wide receiver group includes seniors Anthony Green and Owen Cave along with junior Isaiah Farley and sophomore Chris Anderson. Farley will be transitioning from defensive back to receiver this year. Green is the top returning receiver on the team with 10 catches for 105 yards last year.
“Anthony only had 10 catches last year, but if you watch the 10 catches they are all big-bodied catches,” Dougherty said.
The Vikings will also look to reestablish the running game. Last year the Vikings managed just 466 yards rushing as a team. Sophomore Zander Rodgers will see time in the backfield. Cameron Harris will play in the backfield and at slot receiver. Also expect Burks to see significantly more runs.
“We are looking for Caden to take on that burden in the running game as well, so I think we will be much better running the football this year returning four starters on the offensive line,” Dougherty said.
Balance on offense is the goal.
“We want to be very balanced running and throwing the football. When you have a guy like Caden back there you want to be able to throw the football to a guy like Anthony Green,” Dougherty said. “(Running the football) has been our identity. This is my 10th year at Parkview and third as head coach. We want that identity to be running the football. We also want to be very balanced.”
Defensively, Parkview must replace third-team all-state defensive end Ja’Veo Toliver. Toliver led the team with 93 total tackles and 16 tackles for a loss last year.
“You can’t really replace a Division I talent like that. What we can do is look to replace his production,” Dougherty said.
In Toliver’s absence, the defensive line will feature returning starters Adam Dougherty, Isaiah Dejong and Malik White. Daugherty will play nose tackle. He had 13 tackles for a loss last year. Dejong will be a three-year starter, but missed much of last year after tearing his ACL in week three. Isaiah Robinson started on the offensive line last year, but will move to defense this year.
The linebacking corps will be led by senior Damieon Sanchez who is the leading returning tackler for the Vikings after he 89 total tackles last season.
“Nobody plays with more heart on our team. He had a game last year against Rolla where he had 22 tackles. We are looking for some big things from him this year,” Dougherty said.
Nathan Anderson and Brayden Howell will battle for time at inside linebacker. Carl Thomas will start at outside linebacker. Austin Youngblood and Dustin Harris will both also see time at outside linebacker in their senior seasons.
The secondary will feature Shane Glass, Ethan Brantley, Omar Chatman and Keith McCampbell. Glass starter at wide receiver last year, but will be a defensive leader this season. Brantley will play opposite Glass at cornerback as a sophomore. Chatman (junior) and McCampbell (senior transfer from Chicago) will be the safeties.
“We pride ourselves on running to the football,” Dougherty said. “We pride ourselves on being physical. We pride ourselves on taking the ball away. Our philosophy this year is “getting six”. That is a combination three-and-outs, defensive stops and turnovers. If we can get six of those a game total we feel like we are going to be in a good spot to compete.”
Parkview opens the season on Aug. 28 at home against Waynesville.