All was well in the Augustana football camp on Saturday and the smiles proved that.
Augie snapped a couple of lengthy home losing streaks in the thorough 41-3 beat down of the visiting Coe KoHawks at Lindberg Stadium. It snapped a string of 12 straight home losses dating back to 2016 and was the first day-game home victory since 2014.
Now the Vikings are hoping things get even better.
“We're excited,” senior defensive back Luke Phelan said. “We're excited, man. We think we're a team that's been an underdog for a long time and we're really excited to take on that mentality and show some people that we're here to play some ball.”
However, that display will have to wait for a week as the Vikings have an off week before opening CCIW play against Elmhurst on Sept. 21 at 6 p.m. back at Lindberg Stadium.
So, the question looms. Coming off a big victory that kicked a couple of huge weights off their shoulders is an off week good or bad for the Vikings?
Coach Steve Bell likes it as he says a few players have some minor injuries that need to get healed.
“Right now at this point, for this group of players, this is a much needed (off week); it's a very positive thing,” said Bell. “I have no qualms that the leadership on our team makes sure it is handled the right way. … We need to get those key players healthy.”
Like most “bye” weeks, the coaching staff will take advantage of the extra week to gameplan and iron out any issues that popped up during the win.
“It also gives us an extra week to throw in some wrinkles,” Bell said. “It's more from a health standpoint. And we have a few young kids we'd like to see more of and gives us a chance to give them some reps, too.”
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The players are sure that the momentum built with a dominating opening victory will last into that second game.
“Maybe for the younger guys and the guys who haven't played so much, maybe it's a good thing heading into conference play since they're not aware of how good this conference is,” senior QB Zach Fuller said. “We just have to have a good week of practice this week and then get ready for Elmhurst.”
While the win was nice, Bell didn't turn it into a big deal, staying business-like. However, he did enjoy watching his team's methodical approach to the victory.
“I liked the way our guys handled themselves during the game – just the maturity that they showed,” Bell said. “Hopefully, that can continue. It has to continue because it's building blocks.”
Here a pick, there a pick: For the second straight year, the Vikings' defense did a nice job of coming up with the big plays against the Coe passing attack. On Saturday, Augie intercepted Coe backup QB Max Ridenour four times — two of those by Phelan and the others by senior linebacker Luke Swaicki and junior DB John Kappel. In last year's 26-7 win in Cedar Rapids, the Vikings had three picks against regular starter Quentin White, who was not dressed for this year's game.
The biggest difference between those games? Augie's defense held Coe to 193 yards in 64 plays on Saturday. Last year, the Kohawks rolled to 312 yards in 79 plays.
Phelan got his senior season off to a solid start as he doubled his interception total from last year.
Double trouble: In St. Ambrose's 45-37 win over Missouri Baptist Saturday, running backs Garret Tiarks and Brandon Baalman enjoyed identical production, both rushing 17 times for 89 yards as St. Ambrose piled up 208 yards on the ground.
Tiarks did have one distinguishing stat, a six-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that put St. Ambrose up 31-23.