Story by Alex Missey
The Missouri Valley Vikings had an unforgettable year this year, proving that they are true contenders in NAIA. The Vikings proved last year was no fluke as they won the HAAC for the second straight year posting a season record of 12-1 while going 9-0 in conference action.
Winning the HAAC conference was no easy task as it had four teams ranked in the top 30 in the nation. According to compughterrankings.com, the Vikings had an overall rating of 98. Their defensive unit received a rating of 99 followed by an offensive rating of 94.
The Vikings started the season ranked number nine in the nation, but this would not stop the Vikings when they traveled to Olathe, Kansas to take on conference foe Mid-America Nazarene for the second game of the season. Mid-America began the season ranked number five in the polls. The Vikings came out of there with a huge win 41-7 and then they would never look back, continuously increasing in the rankings.
Throughout the season, Vikings fans enjoyed a full display of offense, defense, and special teams. There was not a weak point for MVC on the field as every unit played big at crucial points in games. Head Coach Paul Troth’s special teams was a huge part with their abilities to get good field position and sometimes even scored which was a big lift.”
The road for the Vikings never got easier after Mid-America as they continued their season against ranked opponents. The next big game for the Vikings would be a test against the number nine ranked Baker Wildcats on the road. This was a battle of two unbeaten teams; the Vikings prevailed once again in a hostile environment as they would go on to win the game 31-17. This put the Vikings in the driver seat for the HAAC as they would now control their own destiny.
All year they focused on one game at a time as any team would, but in the back of all their minds was the Benedictine game
which they had lost the previous season. The Ravens came to Marshall to play the Vikings for Homecoming. In a rainy mess, the Vikings avenged their 2011 loss with a 42-26 win.
The final two games of the regular season proved to be major for the Vikings. In week 10, the Vikings found themselves in a close one all game against the 15 ranked Evangel Crusaders. The defense held strong all game forcing big turnovers. Late in the game the offense scored two big touchdowns pushing the Vikings to a 35-21 win and at least a share of the HAAC conference championship. MVC went on to win the conference the following week beating Central Methodist University by a score of 25-6.
Coach Troth’s senior leadership and great team chemistry was a crucial part to this team. Sophomore offensive lineman Ben Mayden was quoted as saying, “Being on the offensive line is great. Had a lot of fun with those guys.”
This just shows how close the Vikings squad really was. Anyone who has played a sport knows that it starts with the seniors. Any good team needs good leadership and chemistry especially in football because they have to work together every day and come game time for every play.
Finishing the regular season ranked number two, the Vikings got a bid to play in the NAIA playoffs hosting the Ottawa University Braves. The Braves wouldn’t be a match for the Vikings as they went on to win 56-21.
Coming to town after an upset win over the number one-ranked Georgetown Tigers would be the Bethel Wildcats of Tennessee. This one was a nail biter for fans, as it was close for the whole game. The Vikings defense and special teams played a big role in this one. Sophomore punter Jason Mayden punted well all game.
Ken Kujawa, the radio voice of the Vikings, said on radio, “You could not ask anything more from Jason Mayden the way he has punted today.” Mayden constantly pinned the Wildcats deep in their own territory. The game was won 10-7 with a late field goal by Fabian Miramontes that put the Vikings up by three eventually giving them the win. The next week would be a historical one for the Missouri Valley College Vikings and, for the first time in program history, they were hosting a semi-final playoff game. Troth said, “Playing at home is tremendous and we have to take pride in that.”
The Marian University Knights of Indiana came to town with a trip to the National Championship on the line. The game was close the whole way with the Vikings taking a lead of 10-9 into halftime.
The Vikings went up 17-9, but a quick answer from Knights made the game 17-17. The defenses both held strong the fourth quarter.
The last 1.7 seconds determined the team that would be making a march to Rome, Georgia. The Knights kicker would prove he
would not miss another one as he snuck in a 52-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Knights a 20-17 win. This was heartbreaking to every Viking fan.
About the season as a whole, Coach Troth with a smile said, “It was a great season until the last 1.7 seconds, but you have to be in a position to win and sometimes that’s the way it goes.”
The Vikings took one on the chin but look out in 2013 as they are returning a lot of core players. Sophomore punter Jason Mayden said that 12-1 is a good year and “everyone should be excited for next year.”