For the Northside Vikings, the 2018 football season was not one about how many games the team won or lost, it was more about finding out what young men could and would help lay a foundation for future success.
“We only won one game last year,” said John Simmons who is entering his third season as Northside head coach. “You know a lot people look at wins and losses. Last year was not a win-year loss for us. Last year was a year for us to asses kids man.
“We had 42 freshmen and a lot of them started,” Simmons added. “So for us we found out who could play, the kids who had the guts to really play football and who really wants to be a Viking.”
With challenging spring football practices, and last season’s trial by fire, Simmons is hopeful that his Vikings can get back on track as one of the area’s best programs. Northside opens up the season at home this Friday against Southside High.
“We are more than ready to prove everyone wrong,” senior defensive back Brandon Issac said. “We are about to bring the old Northside back this year. We are hungry to be better.”
A key for Northside to accomplish a successful turnaround is being able to finish plays and games.
“We always started out games good but we couldn’t finish and that was big problem for us,” Simmons said. “With having those kids have a year under their belt, I am looking forward to see how they have grown.”
Another part of Northside’s turnaround process is also about attitude, and more specifically about not giving up.
“You can turn things around real easy,” Simmons said. “We have shown them on film that they are a step away, a catch away or a play away. You got beat down and quit but these guys know now what it takes to turn it around.”
“We could have probably more games than just one last year but everybody wanted to get down and no one wanted to pick up,” added senior Dennis Harris Jr. “We are not going to let that happen this year.”
Harris is one of five returning starters on offense but is making a position change switching from running back to quarterback. Simmons believes that Harris’ intelligence will help open up the Vikings’ offense.
“He’s a real bright kid and that helps as coaches because we can open up our arsenal,” Simmons said.
With the players returning, Simmons believes that Northside can bounce back to become one of the best teams in District 5-4A.
“I tell the kids realistically that I want to go 7-3,” Simmons said. “If we go 7-3 then that should put us in the Top 10 in the state because of our district. I want to have that first-round playoff game at home.“
Even though Simmons, and in turn his players, believe that the Vikings can turn things around this season, others might laugh at the notion that a team can go from one wins to seven in a mere year.
Harris says that he and his teammates have no qualms with others mocking what the Vikings can or can’t do in 2019.
“It’s a lot of motivation,” Harris Jr. said. “We use all that talkin’ and once we get where we want to be then we are going to show them that all that talk was cheap.”