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Vikings set sights high-as always

Always set your goals high and have a short memory when things don’t go as planned.

But most of all it’s about living in the moment and focusing on what you can control.

Words to live by for the Grand Island Vikings football team as they head into the new season.

Head coach Dean Santorio returns a strong core of players from a squad that went 6-2 last season.

More importantly, he returns a cast of players who understand what it takes to succeed while still thirsting to achieve more.

“Obviously the more kids you return the better your opportunities are going to be,” Santorio said.

As GI prepares to do battle in a very tough Section Class A-2, they will be leaning on players like seniors Cam Sionko and Justin Gorrell.

Sionko, the Vikings QB, threw for 1,378 yards and 16 TD’s last season.

“We pulled him up as a freshman when our quarterback got hurt. So, he started I believe, three or four games his freshman year,” Santorio said. “Then he split time as a sophomore with Connor Buzby, but was basically our starter. He started all year last year and that’s a big a benefit in itself. He knows our system. What we expect. So I think he should be one of the better quarterbacks in the area. So that’s a big start.”

Sionko will also have the plus of familiar faces guarding him as the Vikings return starting offensive linemen Kenny Yockey (G/LB), Henry Grunzweig (G/DT), Anthony Seifert (OT/DT) and center Brandon Vedella.

Gorrell, who will play safety and wide receiver, is expected to be one of the Vikings captains as well.

Also back are Jeremiah Wilkes (DE/TE), Easton Speer (Wideout/RB/S) and Ryan Jellinik (RB/LB) who all contributed to last season’s success.

Ben Moskala, who was the starting QB on JV last year until an injury sidelined him, will be on varsity as a wide receiver this year.

The Vikings are coming off of a 28-14 first round loss to West Seneca East. A game that saw them up 7-0 and controlling the tempo, until a series of penalties and turnovers took their toll.

While Santorio feels his team learned from that loss he also believes there is no point in rehashing it now. Which speaks to his live in the moment philosophy.

Santorio believes that his leadership and core players have tasted both success and heartbreaking losses. So, he feels that as a group they have the mental toughness to get through whatever adversity they may face.

“We had two difficult losses last year,” Santorio said. “Once in the regular season and once in the playoffs. So they’ve dealt with the positives of having a successful year, but a couple tough losses. I think when you’ve had that type of experience where you’ve won a couple of really, really big games but you drop one or two the season before that experience is going to help in the long run.”

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