Thursday night, Ki-Ro Gambrell Field will be packed. The Vikings will welcome in the Bulldogs from Dora for a huge in-county matchup.
Coach Bart Lockhart and the Bulldogs are coming in with a 7-2 record, with their only two losses coming in 4A Region 6 to Fayette County and Haleyville by a combined 8 points. Jasper enters Thursday’s contest with a 3-6 record, but the Vikes look to gain some momentum going into the offseason.
Jasper comes in with a losing record, and is out of the playoffs for the second season in a row, but don’t underestimate how much the Vikes want to win this one. Dora is a good football team, and a county rival, but Coach Brunner and the Vikings are excited about the opportunity to compete, and to end the season on a high note. Dora is also looking to enter the playoffs with a strong finish as they fine tune in the last game of the season in preparation for a first round playoff matchup with perennial power Deshler.
The Dora offense is paced with a hard nosed running attack by two of the top rushers in the county in running backs Caleb Danner and Achilya Dixon, who are both coming off a game where they combined to rip region foe Good Hope for 300 rushing yards. The Dora defense mirrors their offense with a tough mentality that has averaged only allowing 14.8 points per game led by Chance Thompson and Andrew Gaylor.
The Viking offense will once again lean on its rushing attack as well, paced by Ken Holiday, Kaden Shelton, and a mix of Jeremiah Hammond, who is a load to tackle in the wildcat. The Jasper defense has not been as stingy as the Dora defense, but linebackers Eli Dejesus and Jeremiah Hammond look to limit the Bulldog offense by keeping them behind the sticks, and finding a way get off of the field on third down.
The Vikes will look to make some big plays in the return game with Ken Holiday, who makes everyone hold their breath every time that he touches it. The Viking defense will need to keep Dora out of field goal range, because Bulldog kicker Jack Spradlin is one of the better ones to come out of our county in a long time.
This game has the potential to be one of the more hard fought games in the state tomorrow night, and will likely come down to which team can run the ball consistently, and which team can stop the run. Turnovers will be huge in this one, as both teams will look to limit the time of possession of the other. This will be the 55th meeting between the Vikings and the Bulldogs with Jasper holding the series advantage 44-11. The Vikes won last year’s contest at Dora by a final of 55-7.
Make plans to be at Kiro-Gambrell Field tomorrow night for Senior Night. The game will begin at 7:00, and Senior Recognition will begin at 6:30. The Vikings will also recognize the 1977 State Runner-Up team. That team only allowed 8.9 points per game, and was led by Coach David Campbell, and Sophomore Running Back Lennie Patrick. One of the better teams in the history of Viking football, went 12-2 with their only losses to Shades Valley in the opener, and to Berry in the 4A State Championship Game.