POULSBO — They’ve got a new head coach, a new batch of seniors and a new schedule to play, but the North Kitsap Vikings are still taking to the pitch like they’ve been doing it for years.
Chris May stepped in as head coach earlier this winter and has stepped in with immediate changes — in a big way with increased off-season training. He met with the team during the first week of January and since then, team captains led conditioning sessions on their own time.
On Feb. 26 official practice began, and the results of the off-season work were already beginning to show themselves.
“We probably have more midfield players than I can put on the pitch that are starting quality players,” May said.
The Vikings midfield is shaping up to be the core of the team, May feels, while the front and back of the ship are in need of a little solidifying. The Vikings lost a batch of talented and cohesive seniors last season — including all-Narrows League defender Steven Prevost and All-Narrows midfielder Carlos Portillo — however, the experience of this year’s juniors should match up well with the leadership of the smaller 2007 senior class.
“The first few games are critical for communication with each other and making the right calls on the field,” May said.
The Vikings are playing as a part of the Narrows League Bay Division in 2007 where they will face teams like Olympia and Bellarmine in addition to Kitsap schools on somewhat of a fused Narrows schedule.
North opened its season versus Lincoln Tuesday at Mount Tahoma Stadium but results were unavailable at press time.
On Friday, the Vikings travel to face Port Angeles before returning to host their first game of the year against Stadium at 6:45 p.m. March 20 at NKHS.
“They are probably more ready for the game than I am,” May said after practice Monday. “It’s such a players’ game, I just have to figure out in my mind which guys work together the best and try to keep those combinations on the field.”
Seniors Michael Catania, James May and Kevin Joines and juniors Sam Mouser and Jake Pedderson have been elected by the team as its captains, May said.
Juniors Devin Langaker (keeper) and Craig Gracey (forward) who started consistently and played substantial roles as sophomores will add to the experience of the team. Sophomores Zach Sampson (forward) — who was the leading scorer in 2006 as a freshman — and, Nate May (keeper) also bring a years worth of Viking experience and loads of soccer know-how.