Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sto-Rox Defense Adjusts Its Attitude after a Shaky Start, Vikings 'Stop Troops' Become a Strength

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sto-Rox Defense Adjusts Its Attitude after a Shaky Start, Vikings 'Stop Troops' Become a Strength

Article excerpt

It wasn't until late September before Dan Bradley witnessed a noticeable difference in his Sto-Rox football team.

Two weeks after the Vikings suffered a 35-34 loss against Big Seven Conference opponent Neshannock on Sept. 14, Bradley went back to view video footage from that game as well as his team's 35-31 non- conference victory against Northgate on Sept. 28.

"When we sat down and watched tape of those two games, we saw that we weren't playing inspired defense," the second-year coach said. "We were lackluster and not disciplined. There were breakdowns and it wasn't because of ability; it was because of effort.

"Once we were able to point that out to our guys, everyone became accountable and took it upon themselves to get better. We then started playing as an inspired collective group."

That moment proved to be a crucial turning point in the season for Sto-Rox (10-1), which cruised through the rest of the regular season and into the Class A playoffs.

"Coming into the season, we returned a good core of guys who started or saw some time last season," Bradley said. "But we also had just as many players who weren't on team, either. That mix had to gel together.

"At Week 5, we all came together and really started to play as a team, especially on defense. We began playing the way we needed to play."

The No.2-seeded Vikings head into the semifinals and will meet No. 6 North Catholic (9-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Dormont Stadium.

"To advance far into the playoffs you need a great offense that can score a lot against people, but you also need a defense to slow people down," Bradley said. "We've made remarkable strides in that area."

Sto-Rox has won eight games in a row since losing to Neshannock and closed out their regular season with three shutouts against Western Beaver, Laurel and Rochester. The Vikings have only given up 15 points in its two playoff games against Carmichaels and Union.

"Offensively, we've been sound," Bradley said. "We have guys who have grasped what we're trying to do. Our defense is giving our guys on offense an opportunity to score. The better you play on defense, the more opportunities you give your offense. …

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