Sam Johnson expects Vikings to aim high

Siuslaw Vikings first-year coach Sam Johnson

Siuslaw Vikings football coach Sam Johnson wants his players to be uncomfortable.

He also wants them to be safe.

He wants players to buy into his program, or take a hike.

And he wants them to honor traditions.

So far, so good.

"We're moving in the right direction," Johnson said. "It's an offseason, when people are excited. It will be another thing when it comes to the season.

"It's inevitable to go through adversity during the season. We want to see excitement through adversity."

Making players uncomfortable is all part of the process. Consider the team's fundraiser, which ends Friday.

As of Wednesday, the Vikings had raised $6,100, surpassing their goal of $6,000.

"Players had to go out, they had to make those uncomfortable talks to 25 people apiece," Johnson said. "They had to set up communication with 25 people through email or phones.

"They've done it really well."

All money raised has been dedicated to new helmets.

"First and foremost, we have to protect kids' heads," Johnson said. "We have to put the kids in the best helmets possible."

The Vikings will get another test to their comfort level at a team mini-camp next week.

"We're going to crash at the high school gym for two nights," Johnson said. "It's a good bonding time for the kids, when they have to be in an uncomfortable time with each other.

"You smell, you're tired, you're sore. You've got to sleep next to a guy."

The camp will include morning weight training, evening practices and nightly activities.

"We'll have breakfast provided, dinner provided, movies provided," Johnson said. "We'll do team activities. Then we sleep (at the gym), and I'm sleeping here with them."

The players have been getting with the program.

"The hard work, the way the kids are buying in, is really good to see," Johnson said. "We're not making it easy on them. We're working hard out here, conditioning hard, going through a lot of stuff.

"You have to buy in every day, you have to show up with the mentality ‘I've got to beat myself from yesterday.' Or you're going to have to leave.

"We're not begging people to be part of it. That's something Siuslaw football doesn't do. We don't beg or cater to everybody's needs. We're who we are. If you want to be part of it, be a part of it."

Johnson, 23, was part of it for four years, graduating in 2013 from Siuslaw, where he was an all-star wide receiver and defensive back for legendary coach Tim Dodson.

Johnson plans to continue many of the traditions that have their roots in the Len Lutero and Dodson eras, which encompass a half century of Vikings football.

"There are a lot of traditions, a lot that the community sees," Johnson said, "and a lot the community doesn't see that are just a part of the brotherhood of Siuslaw football.

"There's no hazing. Everything is super positive, building up young men."

Reestablishing a winning tradition is important to Johnson, but as a byproduct of setting expectations high.

"There's no reason to set the expectations low," he said. "That's the fastest way to mediocrity. We're going to set the expectation high for every kid, for the program, and if we miss, we miss high.

"This town has been in a rebuilding season for three years, and we can't do it for four. We've got the kids. That's never going to be an excuse. The 'young thing' is never going to be an excuse.

"This is a season we fully expect to win every game we play in. We're never going into a game thinking we're outmatched. We expect to win all our football games this season."

That's a tradition most players, and fans, can get comfortable with.


  • Monday, Aug. 19 — First practice.
  • Saturday, Aug. 24 — Blue-Gold Game, Hans Petersen Field, time to be announced
  • Friday, Aug. 30 — Jamboree, Hans Petersen Field, 11 a.m. (Bandon, Marshfield, Pleasant Hill and Siuslaw)
  • Friday, Sept. 6 — at Elmira, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Sept. 13 — at Philomath, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Sept. 20 — Newport, 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 28 — McLoughlin/Griswold, Madras High School, 4 p.m.
  • Friday, Oct. 4 — Harrisburg, 7 p.m. (league opener)
  • Friday, Oct. 11 — at Santiam Christian, Adair Village, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Oct. 18 — Pleasant Hill, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Oct. 25 — La Pine, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 1 — at Sutherlin, 7 p.m.


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