Niles head coach says Vikings must play together to earn first victory

Published 1:56 am Thursday, September 16, 2004

By By ADAM FISHER/ Niles Daily Star
Hanging on the wall in Niles' locker room, one of the last things players see before heading to the stadium, is a poem by Dale Wimbrow titled "The Man in the Glass."
The poem emphasises that people must take care of themselves before worrying about others.
The poem couldn't be more appropriate as the Vikings try to avoid an 0-4 start Friday against Battle Creek Lakeview, according to head coach Dave Janicki.
One of the reasons Niles has slipped to 0-3, its worst start in five years, is because players are not focusing on their jobs on the field, Janicki said.
While the Vikings have stumbled on the field, they aren't doing the things off the field that make a good football team, Janicki said.
All season, Janicki has stressed enthusiasm and caring among his players. His philosophy is that players must come together as a friends first and a football team second.
He doesn't see that sense of caring from his players, he said.
In an attempt to instill the virtue into his team, Janicki made some changes in the Vikings' leadership following Friday's 30-21 loss at Battle Creek Central.
Niles' coaches have challenged the entire junior class to step up and assume leadership of the Vikings.
One of those juniors who will lead Niles into Lakeview is quarterback Nick Etzcorn. In his first high school start last week, Etzcorn threw for two late scores. He also threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
Etzcorn replaced senior Jason Rutkowske in Niles' second game of the season because Rutkowske injured his finger. Though the senior is healed, Janicki squashed any idea of a quarterback controversy.
If the Vikings are to pick up their first victory Friday, they will have to address the running game, both offensively and defensively.
Niles hasn't been able to stop the run in all three of its loses, giving up an average of more than 250 yards on the ground a each game.
Janicki, who went with smaller, faster players on defense to start the season, said he is now trying to beef up his line. He will still use the smaller players, which he refers to as scrappy, in situations.
On offense, the Vikings haven't been able to get their running game started. Their problems come from the lack of a go-to running back, Janicki said.
Janicki said he has seen bits and pieces of the ability to be the go-to back from Paul Bella, Lyle Watson and Otis West, but hasn't settled on his No. 1 rusher yet.