The Rainier Beach Vikings are always loaded with talent and veteran head coach Mark Haley is excited about what he has coming back from last year’s squad that went 5-5 and made it to post-season play.
“We have a lot of young guys who played last year that will be here for at least another year, so that’s pretty exciting for us,” Haley told Northwest Elite Index. “We have some great seniors too and those are guys we’ll count on for leadership and to help us get to where we want to be.”
On offense, the leadership of senior tailback Mike McKnight (5-7, 170) will be huge for a young quarterback who will be counted on to take over things.
“Mike played fullback and linebacker for us the past two years and last year he was a First Team All-Metro guy on offense and a Second Team All-Metro player on defense,” Haley noted. “He’s probably the strongest guy (pound-for-pound) on our team and we’ll count on him to be a big contributor for us.
“We also have Elijah Williams (5-10, 175) who is probably our fastest player. He’ll play tailback and also on defense at either safety or linebacker, so he’s obviously a versatile guy.”
At the quarterback spot, Haley and his staff are faced with the prospect of playing a freshman (Simon Robinson [6-0, 170]), but that doesn’t seem to be a huge concern for him.
“Obviously, either one of them are going to have some struggles just because he’s so young, but he’s got a really good arm and I think, in time, he could wind up being really, really good,” Haley said of his projected starter. “He’s got great size for a freshman and he’s got a good arm, so we’ll have some growing pains, but in the long run it will help us a lot getting him out there.”
Out wide, the Vikings feature a very good receiver in Kelan Madison (6-1, 170), a senior, who is long and has great hands.
“He’s a great athlete and he’s got great hands because he plays basketball,” Haley noted. “We’ve also got some young guys and a couple of seniors who play defense for us, but we need to see how they do in camp and how they all fit, so right now, he’s the one guy that stands out to me.”
Both the offensive and defensive line will need to replace Leo Keilani who has moved on and is playing at Arizona Western this fall.
“On offense, Diaskue Fukadawa (6-3, 235) is a junior and last year he played tackle and he did really, really well,” Haley said. “He’s probably got the best footwork and technique of all of our guys and we think he can be something special there. I think he’s got a future in college.
“Danny Segi (6-0, 280) is another junior, so you can see we’re still pretty young up there, but he’s a guard for us on offense and a defensive tackle for us when we’re on defense. He’s a hard worker and he’s put in a lot of time and effort this offseason getting ready, so I’m really excited to see what he can do now that it looks like he’s dedicated himself to the game. He’s matured a lot and I think he’s going to wind up being a pretty good player, both ways, for us.
“We also have Joshua Forest (6-1, 280) who is another junior and he’ll definitely play both ways for us. He started at defensive tackle last year, so he’s got experience and we’ll have him play offensive tackle for us as well.”
In the secondary, seniors Anthony Allen (6-0, 180) and Demetrius Anderson (5-10, 180) will hold down the two corner spots and both will also play some offense (wide receiver) as well.
“Both of those guys are good athletes and they’ve got experience. We can trust them back there and that allows us to do more stuff up front,” Haley added.
As far as how their season progresses, the Vikings have the chance to get off to a fast start with their first game at Ingraham on September 13th and then Chief Sealth on September 20th before facing off against a tough Nathan Hale squad that has made the post-season the past two years.