Vikings Stopped Short Of Playoffs


Photo by Andrew Hale

Defense! Vikings defense takes the field in their final game of the season

Original story was published on Oct. 28. 

It’s been over 12 months since the H-F football team has had a full season, but like most years, the competition was just as difficult.

After only playing four games in the 2020-21 season, due to COVID-19, the Vikings headed into the 2021-22 season with a lot of changes.

Not only did the Vikings have to replace the numerous varsity players who are no longer in high school, they also had to replace their long-time head coach Craig Buzea.

Even though the Vikings didn’t have many returning players, the team was confident with the newcomers and how they’ll perform. 

“We have a lot of good players as well as a good run defense,” junior John Gore Jr. said.

But since football is played outdoors, the team has not been held back by COVID precautions, and players were excited to be back on the field after a long year online last season. 

With a new roster and a new coaching staff, first-year head coach Terrell Alexander and the Vikings picked up right where they left off, defeating T-F North High School by a score of 47-0 in their first game of the season. 

The Vikings kept it going, riding on their momentum and defeating Cahokia High School 21-6 in their second game of the season. 

Like in their first two games, the Vikings defense and offense both clicked, ultimately defeating Lincoln-Way Central with a score of 44-2. 

A big factor that went into the Vikings three-game winning streak was the team’s excitement to be back on the field, even though COVID-19 restrictions were still in effect which continued to impact the team’s daily lives.

The Vikings were 3-0 going into a tough matchup against Lockport on Salute to Service Night. 

Unlike their first three games, the Vikings offense couldn’t get things going, getting held scoreless through the first half. The defense, on the other hand, held a high-powered Lockport offense to 14 points going into the half. 

Like the first half, the Vikings couldn’t find the end zone. While Lockport only scored eight points in the third quarter they ultimately went on to defeat the Vikings by a score of 22-0.

Because the Vikings were on a three-game winning streak they may have understated a talented opponent in Lockport. 

“We lost because we weren’t as locked in as we usually are,” junior Traimale McDaniel said. 

While Vikings didn’t have the greatest mindset heading into the Lockport game they had a chance at redemption against the Bradley-Bourbonnais Boilermakers in their following matchup. 

The Vikings had an all-around good performance with both the offense and defense holding their own. The defense held the Boilermakers to one touchdown through the entire game. The offense was clicking the entire night and leading the Vikings to a 33-7 victory. 

The Vikings hoped to carry this momentum into a big matchup against a conference opponent in Sandburg. 

Similarly, to their game against Lockport, the Raiders defense stopped the Vikings offense all night holding them to six points the entire night. 

The Vikings defense held their own for a majority of the night, but the Raiders were too strong and ultimately defeated the Viking 20-6.   

After the Vikings record dropped to 4-2, H-F headed into one of the biggest games of the season against their rival, Lincoln-Way East. 

History was not on the Vikings side as they hadn’t beat the Griffins since the 2016-17 season. 

This year, like the many seasons before, was no different. The Griffins proved to be too much for the Vikings, winning by a score of  24-6.

For the first time in quite a while, the Vikings headed into a game in which they tried to keep their record above .500 against the Sandburg Eagles. 

While the offense started to get it going in this game, the defense continued to struggle, giving up 28 total points. H-F’s record dropped to 4-4 after losing to Sandburg 28-20.

To keep their playoff aspirations alive, the Vikings headed into a must-win game against the Lincoln-Way West Warriors.

During the Vikings three-game losing streak, their offense and defense were not as productive as they were to start the season. This trend continued as the Vikings dropped their fourth straight loss by a score of 17-10. 

Not only were the Vikings eliminated from the playoffs but for the first time since the 2009-10 season the Vikings finished the year with a losing record.

The Vikings showed encouraging signs under this new coaching staff, so there is a lot to look forward to heading into next season.