CHANGE OF PACE: Vikings offer Mustangs a different style to prepare for



September 29, 2016 - 12:00 AM

For the past two weeks, the Mustangs have had the challenge of facing the two most physically imposing teams on their schedule.
Now in Week Five of the regular season, they have a different type of challenge as Parsons rolls into Iola with its sights set on spoiling the Mustangs’ Homecoming.
“They are faster than any team we have played this year,” Iola coach Doug Kerr said. “Their team speed is really, really good. We will have our hands full trying to contain them and prevent them from running up and down the field.”
The Vikings pose very different challenges from the previous two opponents the Mustangs have faced. Parsons relies on its speed to generate big plays on offense and whereas Wellsville and Santa Fe Trail were led by a veteran core of experienced winners, Parsons’ top play-maker is its freshman wide receiver Daquan Johnson (No. 28), who had a touchdown last week against Labette County — a game the Vikings lost 42-21 — on a 34-yard screen play.
Parsons coach Travis Hurley spoke very highly of his explosive young receiver in an interview following last week’s game with the Parsons Sun.
“He’s got the potential to be pretty special,” Hurley said. “He’s just so raw, but gifted. He may be our smartest football player. He understands the game as a freshman and it’s not too big for him.”
Labette County coach Sean Price agreed with Hurley when he had the opportunity to speak with the Parsons Sun.
“That kid’s a stud,” Price said.
Parsons is already on its second quarterback of the season with Gage Friess (No. 10) having replaced Gavynn Larson two weeks ago.
Last week, Friess provided the Vikings with a dual-threat option at the quarterback spot. He threw for two touchdown passes and also ran for 42 yards.
However, Friess also was careless with the ball against Labette County as he threw three picks. That is a stat to which Joey Zimmerman, Isaac Vink and the rest of the Iola secondary would surely like to add to this week.
“We’ve gone against three running teams in a row and we’ve been able to play pretty good pass defense when they do throw,” Kerr said. “Parsons doesn’t throw a lot of short passes. They throw home run balls and we’ve been good defending the deep pass. That is one of our strengths.”
For the Iola offense, they should be able to return to what gave them success early in the season and be able to pound sophomore Tayton Driskel in the run game.
“Running the ball does a couple things,” Kerr said. “It gives our kids confidence and it keeps their athletes off the field so they aren’t making plays.”
Labette County running back Isaiah McPherson punished Parsons defense with 184 yards and six touchdowns last week.
McPherson is a special running back coming off a 368-yard game against Osawatomie the week before, but if Driskel and the Mustang offensive line are on their game they should be able to wear down the Vikings in a similar fashion.
The most important way that Parsons is unlike Wellsville and Santa Fe Trail is in the record book.
Parsons comes to Iola 0-4 and if the Mustangs  (1-3) want to get their season turned around and pointed in the right direction, they must make sure that Parsons still has that zero in the wins column when the Vikings take the bus ride back home on Friday night.

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