A war of opposing ends of a spectrum is set for Friday night at Marvel Park.
The Parsons Vikings (2-3), a spread offense highlighted by speed on the edge, takes on Caney Valley (4-1), a wishbone, ground-and-pound offense.
For the Vikings, that puts additional onus on a common thread.
“It’s one of those deals where — not to beat a dead horse — we have to stop the run,” Parsons head coach Jeff Schibi said. “We’re going to make a couple of changes to our defensive scheme to adapt to the wishbone offense. It’s going to take assignment football. Somebody has to put their nose in there so their teammates can go make plays.”
Parsons is coming off a rout of Baxter Springs that leveled its district record at 1-1.
“Regardless of the opponent, we were pleased with how we played in all three phases of the game,” Schibi said. “Offense, defense and special teams. We’ve been preaching that come this time of year, we want to be playing our best football. That was the most complete game we put together of the season.”
As the Vikings continue to try plug holes on the defensive side of the ball, the offense continues to evolve.
Wideout Julius Smith-Reece is coming off a career-best performance and proves to be the perfect complement to Tanner Barcus and Dion Sylvester on the outside.
“We feel if we can establish the run game, that opens it up for our dynamic wide receivers,” Schibi said. “One guy that’s been consistent game after game is Dion Sylvester. Tanner has been great. They’re consistent factors. We have guys on offense that can make plays. But we need to open it up more for them by establishing the run.”
Friday night’s home tilt for Parsons holds critical playoff implications. A win for either team puts it on the inside track to the No. 3 seed, while a loss puts pressure to win the final two games and secure the final berth.
“It’s a huge ballgame,” Schibi said. “We all know that. But we’ll approach this game like every other game. When it comes to district standings, obviously this is a huge matchup. But we’re not putting out to the kids that we’re in a do-or-die situation.”
With Parsons fresh off a dominating win, its confidence is as high as its been after a 1-3 start to the year.
“I believe in our kids and I think we can match up with Caney,” Schibi said. “We’re going to take some hits for them and have to match them blow-for-blow. I’m confident in our coaches and players that we’re going to put kids in the best position to succeed.”