After finishing with an 8-2 record and appearing in a bowl game last season, the Vikings are looking to do even more this year.
Even though the Vikings had a strong season overall last year, they ended on a bad note, as they got blown out by Hutchinson Community College in the Salt City Bowl last December with a final score of 52-7. It was Hudson Valley’s third bowl game appearance in school history and their first since 2003.
Vikings 5th-year head coach Mike Muehling said, “It was great to make a bowl game, but then we went out there and kind of got put into our place and got beat pretty soundly. Some guys returning from that team aren’t satisfied with making a bowl game because they want to win a bowl game, but we didn’t come anywhere close to that. So the focus right now is not to make a bowl game, the focus right now is on winning a bowl game.”
Muehling also said, “I think the good thing is that they are not satisfied with what happened. They don’t look back and say we were a great team, because unfortunately the way the season ended, we went out losing two games, and I think that left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. They have a lot to prove that they can run with some of the best teams in the country, and that’s what we are out to do.”
This year’s Viking team has a lot of players returning from last year’s team.
“We had two offensive lineman come back. We have some really key wide receivers in Craig Hardgers and Antonie Montgomery. We have our starting quarterback coming back from last year and another quarterback from last year. We have some guys defensively that are going to play and coming back. So we have a couple guys at each level of position that are coming back, and that is a good thing for us,” said Muehling.
The head coach had a tough job going into the season. He had more than 200 players try out for the team, and he had to get that number down to around 100 before the start of the regular season, which is in 2 weeks.
“We put about 210 through drills, through testing. We were able to get it down to right around 120 right now. We will probably carry around 100 going into the season,” said Muehling.
The coach also has to make sure all of his players are ready for game day and get them prepared in practice during the week.
“We do a lot of different drills. … We do part of game-like situations during practice, and there will be times during practice where we do whole-game situations. So we try to hit a lot of different situations over the course of the week in practice,” said Muehling.
The Vikings hope that all that hard practice will pay off this season, as they look to win their first bowl game in school history after falling just one game short of that last season.
Hudson Valley football will have one more scrimmage game at RPI on Friday at 5 p.m. before their regular season opener at Utica JV on Sunday, Sept. 6, at 4:30 p.m.