KINGSBURG — Entering his fourth season as head coach for the Kingsburg football team, David Wilson said it’s always a fun time of the year when the team begins official practices every summer.
“You get out here and the lights are turned on and the gold helmets shine in the light,” Wilson said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Last season, Kingsburg finished 7-5 overall and 2-3 in Central Sequoia League play. The Vikings also had a postseason 20-14 win against Chowchilla in a first round game before losing 48-9 in the quarterfinals to Bakersfield Christian in the CIF Central Section Division III playoffs.
If Kingsburg wants to make another playoff run and appear in a Valley championship game, it will potentially have to go through reigning division III champion San Joaquin Memorial, who the Vikings open the season against at home on Aug. 17.
“It’s like I told the guys, they’re in our division,” Wilson said. “If you have any dreams of moving on through the playoffs, you are going to have beaten a team or at least play with a team like Memorial.”
Many of Kingsburg’s players said they are the “underdog” heading into the game even though they are at home.
“It’s a classic David and Goliath story and we all know who the winner of that was,” running back/linebacker Bo Jackson said. “After David beat Goliath he became one of the best kings in the ancient world. Being team players and really believing that we can win, I think we can excel and beat Goliath and become King David.”
“We’re the underdogs in this game, so we have a lot to prove,” running back/linebacker Brandon Rocha said. “I love coming into games where we’re looked down upon because I feel like that makes us work so much harder. It’ll be a big game for us.”
Vikings’ tight end/outside linebacker Jadon Spomer said opening the season at home against a team of San Joaquin Memorial’s caliber is motivation to start the season strong.
“It just pushes us to work even harder knowing that we have to come out strong right away and punch them in the mouth," Spomer said. "All the guys are working really hard. I think our team is going to be up for it.”
Jackson, Rocha and Spomer are some of the notable returners for Kingsburg. Jackson was an all-CSL first-teamer on offense and defense last year. The incoming senior rushed for 1,543 yards and 20 touchdowns last year, which was good for the CSL lead in both categories. On defense, Jackson accumulated 115 tackles, which was good for second in the league last season.
Rocha and Spomer earned all-CSL honorable mention last season. Linemen Garrett Costi, Zack Wilson, linebacker Cole Dias and receiver Alfred Carpenter are other notable returners for the Vikings. Notable newcomers include receiver Kaden Tate, Blake Spomer and quarterbacks Jett Jackson and Travis Hall, who is a Buchanan transfer. Jackson and Hall will be competing for the starting quarterback position throughout the duration of fall camp.
After Kingsburg’s game against the San Joaquin Memorial Panthers, the Vikings will host Washington Union on Aug. 24. Kingsburg will end the month of August with a road date against Monache.
Following the Monache game, the Vikings will head to Kerman on Sept. 7 with a bye week after taking on the Lions. Kingsburg will play on the road against Madera South on Sept. 21. The Vikings will be back home against Exeter to begin CSL play on Sept. 28.
October should be a pivotal month for Kingsburg to finish the regular season. All four teams that the Vikings will play in October either have won a playoff game or competed in the postseason last year.
The first two games of the month for Kingsburg will be at home against Central Valley Christian (Oct. 5) and on the road against Dinuba (Oct. 12). Those two teams are the only CSL programs to have double-digit wins last season. CVC (10-3 last season, 3-2 in league) and reigning CSL champs Dinuba (11-2, 5-0) made Valley championship game appearances. Wilson said he expects both of those programs to compete for a league title this season.
The final two games of the season will be a road game against CSL-newcomer Hanford West (Oct. 19) and a rivalry matchup against Selma at home (Oct. 26).
“I’ll be honest, I just worry about us,” Wilson said. “I worry about playing well, and I really think if we play well, we can play with anyone. The scoreboard will say what it will say at the end of night, but we have to take care of what we can control.”
Kingsburg’s opening game against San Joaquin Memorial is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Aug. 17.