That’s how three-year varsity offensive lineman Eric Bledsoe would describe this year’s Oakmont football team. Heading into the 2018 season, Oakmont will play in its third different conference in eight years. In 2010, the Vikings moved from the Sierra Foothill League to the Capital Valley Conference, and this past year jumped from the CVC to the Foothill Valley League. With the new-look conference looming for the Vikings, they will look to have a breakout year.
“What we worked on most was working together as a team,” Bledsoe confessed. “On the back of our summer shirts it says, ‘All in. Vikings strong’, so I think everyone on this team is all in with the program and that the goal is to make the playoffs because that hasn’t been done in a long time.”
Although many starters departed last year due to graduation, including starting quarterback Colton Baron, Oakmont still returns a key core of young players who, according to head coach Tim Moore, are hungry to make an impact.
“Every year you lose key guys, and that’s the nature of high school football,” Moore said. “We had some pretty special young men in our program last year, but we have a great group of seniors who will lead this year for us.”
Oakmont is led by a key group of seniors this year, most of which having two years of varsity experience already under their belt and will enter their third year on the varsity squad. One of those players is the driving force on the offensive side of the ball in Eric Yeager. Yeager played tight end last season for the Vikings and racked up a team-high 323 yards receiving while being second on the team in touchdowns with three.
Coming off a season that saw the Vikings go 5-5, just like the previous season, they will look to get over the .500 hump this season.
“It has gotten to a point where in the past, 5-5 was good for us, but we have did it twice now in back-to-back years,” Yeager confessed. “I think, however, that is just the bottom, and we have so much more potential. We as a group know how hard we need to work to get to that 11th week.”
Also on the offensive line, another key returner, Stephen Sparks, will be relied on heavily this year in order to help the rushing attack and protect the quarterback, who hasn’t been named yet.
Oakmont will see new opponents in league this year. However, some of its preseason schedule will remain the same, including playing Roseville in Week 2, one of Oakmont’s longtime rivals.
“We know what to expect from Roseville,” Moore explained. “We have been playing them for over 50 years, so that will definitely be a fun game.”
In league, Oakmont will take on longtime SFL opponent Nevada Union, as well as Division V NorCal champions Placer and former CVC foe Ponderosa.
“Every week our opponent will be tough in the new league,” Moore said. “It is a grinder, and there is a ton of talent in the league.”
The Vikings will start their quest to make the playoffs at home versus El Camino Aug. 17.
“El Camino is a team we have either played in a scrimmage or opened up with for the past seven years,” Moore said. “They have a new coaching staff this year, so that will be a new recipe for us opening up the season, and they are looking way different than they used to but we will be ready.”