Mama said there’d be games like this. With last week’s victory over L.A. Harbor, in which the Long Beach City College Vikings posted nearly 600 yards of offense, the team established itself as one of the state’s premier JC teams. This week, in their home opener, they suffered a setback while playing one of the state’s top 5 football programs in the El Camino College Warriors. The Vikings lost 41-21 in a game that felt at times more lopsided, but was actually less. Confused? With 4:35 left in the first half, the Vikings were down 10-7 in an extremely competitive game. Headed into the locker room, they were getting blown out 31-7, the result of a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, and two costly fumbles deep in their own territory. That sequence of events is likely to leave anyone’s head spinning.
To their credit, the Vikings came out and battled in the second half, scoring 14 points to the Warriors’ 10. But they struggled all game against the run, the result of a great team effort by Warriors, who rushed 11 players, as well as some unfortunate formation matchups. The Vikings run an unconventional 3-3-5, with only three down linemen and five defensive backs. It’s great for defending against the pass, which they did pretty effectively throughout—Warriors QB James Coy had three touchdowns, but two were short drive cappers. What the 3-5-5 is not great against is exactly what the Warriors threw at them—good disciplined blocking and a slew of counters, which left big holes to slip through between the undersized defensive backs and the slower linemen.
The news wasn’t all bad for the Vikings—running back Travell Washington looked like the real deal in flashes, though he was hampered by a twisted knee. On some drives, Vikings QB Josh Powell was efficient and effective, moving the ball in small chunks and letting his ground game chew up big pieces of turf. Their opening drive of the game, for example, went 74 yards in 11 plays for a Vikings touchdown. If it weren’t for the turnovers and the blocked punt, things could have been very different.
The important thing for the Vikings is that there’s plenty of encouragement that next week’s match at Cerritos will be different. Head Coach Mike Reisbig liked the way his team fought in the second half. “Tonight was just a young team going through some adversity,” he said. “But no one quit.”
The Vikings will next play at home on September 27th, when they take on West L.A.