The Dulles Vikings graduated a plethora of seniors from last year’s 8-3 squad that ended its season with a playoff loss to Katy Taylor.
However, first-year head coach Shane Byrd said the standards set by last year’s class – which led Dulles to its first winning season since 2012 – have not been taken for granted by this year’s 32 seniors.
“They understand no matter what we did last year, nobody’s going to give us anything,” Byrd said. “Coach (J.L.) Geist did a great job setting the culture in motion, and we’ve really just built on that. Our guys have been successful, and we graduated a good class, but those we do have coming back have really bought in – so we’re excited about the direction we’re headed.”
Fans might see a bit of a different look from the Vikings offensively in 2019 as senior quarterback Alec Aguillon takes control of the team.
“We’re always looking for ways to be more explosive and change up tendencies,” Byrd said. “Alec is a good pocket passer, so we’re looking to keep him upright with all these skill guys he can get the ball to.”
Senior receiver/cornerback Jeremiah Walker (19 catches, 328 yards in 2018) will be one of the returners to watch from an offense that averaged 36 points per game last season and will take on multiple roles for Byrd’s offense. Senior slot receiver R.J. Lee, who also serves as a safety and backup quarterback, will be another key for the versatile Vikings.
“(Walker) can do a lot of things on offense for us,” Byrd said.
James Richardson anchors an offensive line blocking for returning tailback Leroy Jackson Jr., a senior whose 2018 campaign ended with a torn ACL in Week 1, and senior Tim Gans, a transfer from Elkins.
“(Leroy) worked his butt off this whole fall and spring, so we’re excited about him carrying the load in the backfield,” Byrd said.
Defensively, senior Konnor Sheppard (103 tackles, 19 tackles for loss) will shift from linebacker to safety to lead a unit that seeks more aggressiveness this season.
“We might blitz more defensively this year with personnel and have a bit more movement,” Byrd said. “It’ll be fun to watch.”
Dulles kicks off its season with a home contest against Willowridge at 7 p.m. Friday.