LaBrae hopes it is up to its Week 11 challenge
For the second year in a row, the LaBrae Vikings will be playing in Week 11.
This time around, LaBrae, a No. 4 seed in Division V, Region 17, hosts a playoff game, as No. 5-seeded Wickliffe travels to Viking Stadium Saturday night.
A year ago, the Vikings were the five-seed and ultimately won on the road, 42-7, at Grand Valley.
For LaBrae coach John Armeni, that valuable experience from a year ago helps his Vikings this time around.
“It’s about getting your kids used to playing meaningful football games,” Armeni said. “(It’s one of) the hardest things to simulate when you’re building a program. (But) the kids enjoyed that and rose to the challenge.”
LaBrae (7-3) started the year slowly as it lost in consecutive weeks to John F. Kennedy and Lakeview, dropping the Vikings to 1-2 after three weeks. The offense started to come alive after that, and the defense continued to play strong, week-in and week-out, allowing LaBrae to go on a six-game winning streak, prior to last week’s loss at Jefferson, 26-7.
That very loss has Armeni a bit concerned about his squad, heading into Saturday’s game.
He thought the loss was a result of his players looking ahead to the postseason.
“Yeah, I think so. The last two games have been kind of sloppy,” Armeni said. “We had an emotional win over Brookfield (20-14 in Week 7), and we clinched a playoff spot and won the league title (All-American Conference Blue Tier) with the win. That doesn’t make me feel good going into the playoffs, so we have to remedy that real quick.”
The Vikings faces Wickliffe (8-2), a team that has wins over Cleveland Rhodes and Orange (both 6-4 teams), and a 21-7 loss to perennial playoff challenger West Geauga (also 6-4).
According to Armeni, the one thing that stands out to him about the Blue Devils on film is their physicality. The Blue Devils are said to be a very big team, and they run a Wing-T offense — something that the Vikings aren’t accustomed to facing.
However, Armeni believes his team will rise to the occassion.
“The key really comes down to how well you play upfront,” Armeni said. “When we play really well offensively and defensively this season, that’s when we play more consistent. We don’t have the biggest line, but we have some tough football players and we’re assignment sound.”