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Vikings will move the ball with O-line

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Pelican Rapids head coach Dave Haugen goes over an offensive line alignment during an August practice.2 / 4
A Viking receiver gets ready to haul in a pass during a preseason practice.3 / 4
Row 1: Luke Halbakken, Casey Bruggeman, Dan Wood, Cody Wahlstrom, Stephan Jacobson, Cody Hanson, Jed Evenson, Taylor Butz, Cris Bakken. Row 2: Jordan Mohn, Jed Hanson, Andrew Buck, Tanner Grahn, Cris Molina, Devon Hensch, Andy Johnson, Brady Morgan, Joey Pederson, Marshall Ohe. Row 3: Ryan Huseby, Jim Cossette, Tommy Gaustad, Patrick Sorum, Devin Schell, Tyler Lynnes, Tucker Forsgren, Felix Barragan, Patrick Coleman, Jesus Romero, Ian Johnson, Cody Anderson.4 / 4

The 2010 season for the Pelican Rapids football team will be based on its offensive line, where all three of its senior captains reside.

Each of Dan Wood, Cody Wahlstrom and Brady Morgan will anchor the Vikings' strongest unit, which means good news for second-year junior quarterback Casey Bruggeman.

"It's a unique situation for us, because I've never had all my captains just on the offensive line," said Pelican Rapids head coach Dave Haugen. "It should be a good comfort level, because we are starting five seniors on the O-line."

Wood has established himself as one of the top offensive linemen in the area, while Wahlstrom will man the center position, which will be his second year starting.

Morgan is a converted fullback and has made the transition well, Haugen said.

"I'm pleased with Brady's ability to switch positions," Haugen added. "He has shown the willingness as a senior to do what's best for the team."

Bruggeman has also shown improvement from his sophomore to junior season as the Vikings' signal caller.

His improvement has shown in his passing ability, which should make him a duel threat, along with his rushing talent.

"Casey's passing is now adequate enough, that defenses can't ignore him as a thrower," Haugen said. "He can keep the defense off balance."

The Vikings will have a running back by committee approach, with juniors Taylor Butke, fullback Jed Evenson and senior Chris Bakken taking on the rushing duties.

"They are a year older and can read their blocks better, along with being more patient," Haugen said of his running backs. "They're vision should overall be better."

The plan is to grind out drives, picking up first downs and wearing out a defense.

The big play is potential, but longer, sustained drives will be the norm.

"We can't hurt ourselves with mistakes, like penalties and missed assignments," the Viking head coach said. "More experience, should mean less turnovers."

The Vikings also will maintain their size at wide receiver, with each of junior Luke Halbakken, sophomore Tucker Forsgren and senior Andy Johnson ranging from the 6-2 to 6-4 height area.

"All three are experienced and are more physical," Haugen said. "Our receivers should be pretty good in their downfield blocking and are aggressive going after the ball."

The defensive line will be similar to that of the O-line, wherein experience and leadership will dominate.

The Vikings are big in the middle with Wood and senior Joey Pederson filling in space at the tackle positions, while junior Anwar Sharmake will provide a non-stop motor.

Seniors Connor Holt and Stephan Jacobson will contain the edges at the defensive end positions.

The linebacking corp. is also senior laden, with Morgan and Wahlstrom anchoring those positions.

Bruggeman is back at strong safety, who provides a physical presence and good in run support, while Johnson is a free safety/cornerback hybrid.

Others in the secondary include Butke, Bakken and senior James Cossette.

Overall, with the experience coming back from last year, which included a first-round playoff win, the Vikings have more to be confident about in 2010.

"The playoff win helped out our confidence coming into this year," Haugen said. "We are better and we'll see if that translates into a better record with a tough schedule."

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.