CLAYTON — Thousand Islands was one of the hottest and best Class C teams in Section 3 at the end of the 2013 season.
After starting out 1-3, the Vikings captured four of their last five games, including a huge upset of then unbeaten Sherburne-Earlville in the Class C quarterfinals. Thousand Islands then came within a point of knocking off another undefeated team, Immaculate Heart Central, in the sectional semifinals.
The key question now becomes: do the Vikings carry over that momentum for that strong finish?
On paper, the answer is yes. Thousand Islands looks strong on both sides of the ball with veteran leaders and playmakers.
“We have our largest roster since my arrival to TI with 39 kids,” said coach Joe Gilfus. “Several members of this team had terrific offseasons and participated in winter, spring and summer skills and conditioning sessions, as well as attended camp and college camps. It’s a very dedicated group with a good mix who get along well and push each other.”
Now junior Tyler Gilfus has two years of varsity quarterback experience, and that should mean a real breakout season. He passed for 837 yards and six scores last season.
Coach Gilfus developed one of the best one-two rushing punches in the section last year in Collin Bourcy and Tavis Anderson, who combined for more than 1,700 rush yards and 15 touchdowns. Bourcy is back for his senior season, but Anderson is not. However, Gilfus may have found a replacement in senior transfer Randy Jenis, an explosive 5-foot-9, 186-pounder who plays running back and linebacker.
Coach Gilfus has an outstanding two-way lineman in senior Carlos Rodriquez, and a game-changer on defense in junior linebacker Miles Kearns, who led the Vikings in tackles in 2013 with 81 in nine games.
With more depth, the Vikings figure to stay in games longer and keep standout players fresher longer.
Thousand Islands VIKINGS
2013 record: 5-4, 3-2 Class C North.
Coach: Joe Gilfus (9th year, 29-31).
Players to watch: Tyler Gilfus (Jr., QB/DB, 837 pass yds., 6 TD); Collin Bourcy (Sr., RB/LB, 725 rush yds., 514 receiving yds., 5 TD); Miles Kearns (Jr., RB/LB, 81 tackles); Carlos Rodriquez (Sr., OL/DL, 56 tackles); Randal Jenis (Sr., RB/LB); Troy Hattori (Jr., WR/DB).