Colton Carson drops back during and Oxford Hills practice in the preseason. (Randy Whitehouse/Sun Journal)
PARIS — Oxford Hills isn’t complaining about back-to-back playoff berths in Class A North the past two seasons, but the Vikings know there is so much more to football in late fall.
“The past two years were good. Getting to the playoffs, we got a taste of it,” senior running back/linebacker Parker LaFrance said. “Now we’ve got to push deeper.”
The Vikings are tired of the one-and-dones that have marked those two postseason forays, and had a little extra hop in their step this preseason to make sure they are ready to make that playoff push.
“If we put the work in here in August, we’ll get the results in November,” senior slot/cornerback Cam Slicer said.
The Vikings believe they have the talent to stick around longer this year, as long as they don’t get in their own way.
“It’s all execution,” senior quarterback/safety Colton Carson said. “If we execute everything right, if we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot, we’ll be fine.”
“That was a big problem last year,” LaFrance said. “We’d get a drive going and then we’d have a turnover or penalty that kills the drive. We just need to keep our energy up, no matter what happens. We can’t hang our heads.”
Having Carson back under center should help keep those drives alive and ending in points. Strong-armed and mobile, the University of Maine-bound (on a baseball scholarship) righty showed flashes last year but has impressed coaches with better consistency over the summer.
The backfield graduated leading rusher Dawson Stevens but could be more potent with LaFrance and Emmerson Brown leading the ground attack. Carson and head coach Mark Soehren also think the Vikings have more options in the passing game with Slicer, Alex Turner and Janek Lukska involved.
“The ball will be spread out a lot more than it has in years past,” Soehren said.
“We’ve still got plenty of weapons,” Carson said. “We have versatile running backs. We have plenty of receivers. We’ve got some new guys up front, but they’re learning everything pretty quick.”
The development of the line, which returns all-conference tackle Austin Doughty and guard Alex Fox, could be key to Carson utilizing all of his weapons.
Like the offense, the defense’s strength will run back to front.
“Our defensive backfield may be as strong as I’ve ever coached,” Soehren said. “We’ve got four seniors across there (Slicer, Carson, LaFrance and Michael Bonang). Those guys are strong. The inside linebackers, after losing Jordan Silver, we’ve got some juniors that need to learn quickly how to play.”
All-conference defensive end JJ Worster and Doughty will lead the defensive front.
Oxford Hills works on a running play during a preaseason practice. (Randy Whitehouse/Sun Journal)Oxford Hills coach Mark Soehren talks to his team during a preaseason practice. (Randy Whitehouse/Sun Journal)Oxford Hills players participate in a passing drill during a preseason practice. (Randy Whitehouse/Sun Journal)Oxford Hills offensive lineman practice a shotgun snap during a preaseason practice. (Randy Whitehouse/Sun Journal)Oxford Hills players gather around coaches during a preaseason practice. (Randy Whitehouse/Sun Journal)