McARTHUR — From the first day new head coach T.J. Carper stepped into the weight room at Vinton County, he wanted more.
Wanted more kids to consider playing football, wanted to kids to attend weight lifting, wanted more kids who wanted to win.
Since then, the excitement has been felt throughout the locker room, one that has the Vikings thinking big this season.
“The day after I was hired, we had guys in here working out, and it’s led to more kids coming out which has created some great competition,” Carper said. “These guys have bought into what we’re putting in place and have been committed towards working for something bigger than just personal achievement. They want that TVC title, and I want it for them.”
Senior quarterback Braylon Damron returns to the fold as a four-year starter under center, and his experience will be relied on to led the Vikings this season.
“He has a lot of talent and potential, so we’re putting a lot on his shoulders since he’s been through the battles and won some big games,” Carper said. “We have a few sophomores who are going to play and Braylon has been that young guy on varsity, so using that experience to guide some guys along the way is vital. He understands the game, is football savvy and just makes plays.”
In the backfield alongside Damron are returning running backs Broc Moore and Zayne Karr as well as Kody Collie and Bryon Brisker, who is making the transition from quarterback.
On the outside, Caiden Collin and River Hayes are the two main guys who will be targeted. But also watch for guys like Josiah Thacker, John Lemaster and Matt Hembree to make an impact as well.
“It’s mainly all seniors at our skill positions, so not only is that more experience on the field, but those guys won’t get rushed,” Carper said. “When you’ve played varsity, the game sort of slows down since you have that maturity and understanding of what is going on. They’re all high motor, high energy guys who bring it on every play.”
In the trenches offensively and defensively, Jarrett Wells, Braden Wellman and Bryant Brisker return as starters. They’re joined by James Swain, Owen Hire, Reagan Newsome, Trayton White, Caden Eberts and Ashton Allman.
Moore returns to his linebacker spot alongside Thacker, Collie, Blake Brown and Dawson Brown, while Karr, Hayes, Collins, Damron, Lemaster and Hembree roam around handling secondary duties.
The TVC title has made of a lot of stops over the past 20 years, but it hasn’t seen the halls of Vinton County since 1999.
With the league a little more open the usual considering Wellston and Athens lost big senior classes, this could be the Vikings’ year to take over at the top of the mountain.
“We’re just excited to finally get the season started. We’ve handled ourselves pretty well in our scrimmages, and I like how our guys have continued to develop,” Carper said. “Our young guys have come along nicely which creates some depth, and that’s the one thing we can control. And, that’s on us coaches to make happen.”
Vinton County opens the season on Friday at home against Unioto.