MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

December 12, 2013

Vian back at work in 2A playoffs

By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor

— Vian made it through Snowmagaddon and though its Class 2A title dream may take up to Christmas week to live out, life is returning to normal on campus again.

Last Saturday’s semifinal against Davis was postponed due to a statewide sleet and snow deluge and at McAlester High School, the site of the contest, more of the sleet and freezing rain variety of winter weather. As the thawing began enough Tuesday to reopen classes today, the Wolverines got in an indoor practice Tuesday at Van Buren, Ark., in preparation for Friday’s makeup date of 13-0 teams with kickoff at 7 p.m.

“We did a little in the gym Monday and then got in our work over there (Tuesday),” Vian coach Brandon Tyler said. “Except for being in the gym we’ve treated this like a regular work week. But with three days last week under our belt, we’ve been able to go 1 1/2 hours each day and get out of it with shorter practices.”

Rylee Simon, the team’s quarterback and also linebacker on defense, still spent game day Saturday in football and cold, taking in the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game in Stillwater. He said he’s just as soon avoid those conditions — although in the case of Bedlam the snow and ice was swept from the playing field the day before.

“It would be a memory, that’s for sure, if we had,” he said. “It wouldn’t bother me much but for a fan, you’re not moving around in it and it’s harder than being out there playing, where your blood’s pumping and it really isn’t that big a deal.

“It’ll be good to have better weather, but at this point it’s the playoffs, you’re focused on your goal of a title and you’ll play any which way you have to.”

A.J. Rodriguez, who pairs with Simon at linebacker and blocks for him at right tackle, did a lot of lifting and running and film work on his own.

“Definitely a long weekend,” he said. “You look at those games on TV Sunday in the NFL and they were playing in those conditions. It’d been crazy, something fun to talk about had that been us. Either way, I’m just ready to get after it.”

This past weekend was also the last rifle weekend for deer hunters — like playoff football, another Vian tradition that was impacted.

“I tried to stay out of the woods. It was pretty cold to me and my mom wasn’t too crazy about it either, ” said offensive lineman Ashton Woods. “I watched a lot of film and football.”

Watching film was a definite advantage of the downtime considering Davis is one of the few teams that operate out of a wishbone offense — something that’s hard to simulate in practice with a scout team. Tyler’s had a good look at it as a coach in two semifinal meetings, a 34-27 Vian win in 2006 and last year’s 22-0 loss.

“It isn’t something you see much and with the technology we have now where kids can download game film from home, it’s a great tool. So having some more visual time to understand it is definitely helpful.”

That’s one advantage. The other is getting a couple of key parts in gear. Shamal Evans, a wide receiver and defensive back, rolled his ankle last week on the end of a touchdown reception in a 21-20 quarterfinal win against Hennessey and running back Eric Casey has been nursing a groin injury that benefited from the time off.

“They’re both ready to roll,” Tyler said. “Getting a week after 13 games, you’ve got a lot of bumps and bruises that go beyond just those guys so it’s just a good thing overall. We’re fresher but so are they.”

 The winner will face the survivor of the other semifinal between Hartshorne and Millwood next week.