A long weekend has morphed into a short week for the Parsons Vikings, who get four days to turnaround from Monday’s Week 1 win over Anderson County before facing the Iola Mustangs at Marvel Park in Week 2.
“We want our guys to get our legs back underneath them,” Parsons head coach Jeff Schibi said. “It’s not a normal game week. We’re all aware of that.”
A priority for Schibi has been resting his players. The Vikings went helmets-only in Tuesday’s short practice and shells on Wednesday.
“We basically had two football games in four days,” Schibi said. “We got to Marvel Park at 5:45 p.m. on Friday and had already played a first quarter. They were there for four hours. So we’ve got to be really careful with them.”
Outside of some fatigue from playing a game that stretched into Monday, the Vikings are feeling good about themselves. Beating Anderson County in Week 1 after a three-win season a year ago has instilled belief.
Parsons’ defense held Anderson County to three first downs and pitched a shutout — Anderson County’s only score came on an interception off a batted ball.
“The morale of the team is fantastic right now,” Schibi said. “We understand we didn’t play a perfect game. But I don’t know if our defense can get much better.”
Parsons’ offense showed glimmers of excellence — Jahmarion Washington amassed 167 rushing yards and new quarterback Tra Mack threw for 141 yards. But the Vikings didn’t post any points after the first quarter and committed 11 penalties.
“Offensively, we’ve got to clean up mental mistakes and assignment issues,” Schibi said. “We lost a couple fumbled snaps. Things that are easily able to be corrected is what we’ve got to focus on.”
Iola is coming off a 38-0 drubbing of Osawatomie in Week 1, making Friday night a battle of two undefeated teams.
The Mustangs have developed a rivalry with the Vikings over the course of the last half decade, highlighted by 2019’s five-overtime affair. Parsons has won four of the last five meetings.
“In the last few years, Iola has been really powerful on the offensive and defensive lines,” Schibi said. “I don’t think they’re as powerful this year, but they’re more skilled in other areas.”
Schibi feels one of Iola’s biggest threats is running back Trent Jones.
“He’s a very good player,” Schibi said. “It looks like he’s gained speed and quick, side-to-side movement.”
The budding Parsons-Iola rivalry took an ugly turn last year when Parsons players were subjected to racist taunts from the crowd.
“From a coaching perspective,” Schibi said, “the kids addressed it after the Anderson County game. There won’t be a need for motivation from coaches this week is a way I’ll put it. A lot of kids that experienced that racism last year are back this year. They won’t forget it anytime soon.”
Parsons athletic director Rob Barcus said administration will be aware of the crowd throughout the game on Friday night.
“There will be security there, but I wouldn’t call it added security,” Barcus said. “We don’t want to dwell on it. But we’re aware of it. Everybody will be a little more attentive, naturally.”
Schibi also addressed the scuffle between Anderson County and Parsons players after a kickoff late in the first quarter, which led to the ejection of a Parsons player. That player is suspended for Friday’s game per KSHSAA rules.
“We can’t afford to do anything like that this week,” Schibi said. “That’s not something we want to initiate with Iola. We respect their players and coaching staff.”
For the Vikings, Friday is an opportunity to prove Monday’s win over Anderson County was a sign of changing times for a team that’s won five games over the last two years.
“We got a taste of what Parsons football is going to be this season,” Schibi said. “That wasn’t an anomaly. It’s a telling sign of what’s to come.”