Plymouth poised to make another run at state|Trio of backs look to lead Vikings

Published 11:14 am Friday, August 7, 2009

Contributing Writer

PLYMOUTH — In all of his 25 years as head coach of the Plymouth Vikings Robert Cody can always count on two things: One, he will be looked upon to mow each and every inch of the Vikings spacious practice facility no mater how hot it gets and two, his double wing offense will routinely gash opposing defenses.
While Cody confessed to detesting the former (though he claims to do it all by himself, an inside source said he gets help every now and then), he is routinely pleased with the latter.
The grass may grow quickly in Plymouth, but so does its football players. After the ultra-talented, state championship winning core of players that featured most notably Andre Mitchell and Angelo Sharpless graduated in 2007, the Vikings were supposed to be in rebuilding mode last season. The only problem was nobody told the Vikings.
The 2008 season was supposed to be the year that all the area teams got payback on Plymouth for being the big shots on the block, however, only four teams could make good on their quest to dole out comeuppance.
The “rebuilding” Plymouth squad rattled off a 9-4 record to place second in the Albemarle Conference behind a strong Camden team, and then lost a heartbreaker in the second round of the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs.
Last year the Vikings charge was led by a trio of sophomore running backs in Ronnell Blount, Elmer Cooper and Dylan Watts.
With a year of experience under their collective belts, and running behind a beefed up offensive line that features 6-7, 305-pound Paris Palmer, the crew of running backs should improve on last season’s breakout performance.
Cody has faith in his backs, but said success will hinge greatly on his team’s execution.
“The key is going to be how we all block and tackle, and if we can hang on to the football,” Cody said.
During Wednesday’s practice, the Vikings’ skipper said the immediate goal is to condition his players.
“Right now we are just getting in shape, forget the rest of the stuff. If you don’t get them in shape, you can teach them whatever you want and it won’t make a difference,” Cody said. “These kids are working hard. It was 100 degrees today and we ran 800 yards; they’re in pretty good shape.”
Conditioning aside, a large portion of Plymouth’s potential success this year will depend on how quickly a defense that lost several starters can become cohesive.
Co-defensive coordinators Terry Perry and Corey Crossen guided a strong, senior-laden defensive attack last season that was spear-headed by sack artist Deshawn Allen.
“We lost just about everybody from last year’s team, except for a few defensive backs,” Perry said.
With most of the offensive starters back for another season, Perry acknowledged that the spotlight will be on the inexperienced defense.
“Oh yeah, we feel the pressure,” Perry said. “Coach Crossen and I were talking about it earlier. What we are hoping is that maybe the offense can carry us for a while until we get up to speed.”
The Vikings and their defense will get their first test on Aug. 21 when they travel to Farmville Central.