Much like last season, Northridge High School football coach Tim Priest is teaching fundamentals to a young, inexperienced team. But the difference is a change in attitude -- the kind of change that might help the Vikings improve on a 4-6 overall record.

Much like last season, Northridge High School football coach Tim Priest is teaching fundamentals to a young, inexperienced team. But the difference is a change in attitude -- the kind of change that might help the Vikings improve on a 4-6 overall record.

"We had seven kids miss (the first scrimmage at Newcomerstown) because of the (Hartford Fair), but we're pleased with the change in effort," said Priest, who opens his fourth season as coach Friday when the Vikings travel to Columbus Academy.

"We're way ahead of where we were last year. Even though we lost a lot of our Friday-night players from last year, I'm really happy with the effort from our kids."

The Vikings return three starters on offense -- seniors Kolt McDaniel (5-foot-11, 225 pounds) at fullback and E.J. Snyder (6-2, 215) at center and sophomore quarterback Brandon Hull.

Junior tackle Jake Harger would have started last season, but the 6-3, 295-pounder was sidelined with knee problems as the Vikings tied for fourth in the MBC at 3-4 with Danville and East Knox behind champion Johnstown (7-0).

Two players return on defense -- McDaniel at linebacker and senior safety Luke Schnars.

"Right now, we're at day one (in terms of experience) and that's why having three scrimmages was so important for us because we have nine new kids of defense," said Dave Clayton, the defensive coordinator in the multiple formation set with a 4-4 base. "We're just going over the A, B and C of what we want to do on defense

"By the time we get through week one and week two (of the season), we'll be set into something that works well for the kids. Right now we have a defense where the kids are out there thinking instead of just going out and hitting. They're thinking too much."

McDaniel and Hull will be joined in the backfield of the I-formation offense by senior Jobe Waner and junior Tony Stanley, both seeing action at tailback. Schnars will also be in the backfield mix with Tony Rios (6-5, 210) as a wideout and Tim Doran at tight end.

The blocking will be led by Harger and Snyder with junior Bradley Verhovec and sophomores Stephan Peters and Ian Vankirk seeing action up front as well as freshmen Brad Stought and Anthony Verhovec.

"We're new to the game as far as Friday-night kids, but the great thing has been our attitude and the leadership of the players," said Priest, who also is the offensive coordinator. "We have improved from one week to the next and basically we're ahead of where we were last year. These guys know what they have to do to get better and they have been getting in the reps needed to do that."

Priest also said that the defensive starters had not been set, but will likely come from the same pool of players who play on the offensive side of the ball.

"There's a big drop-off from the varsity players to the guys who play on Saturday mornings," said Priest, who is assisted by Clayton, Phil Auer, Rob Ballenger and Don Starcher. "We're conditioning them to play four quarters, especially since a key for us is to stay strong and healthy.

"We're going to be using 14 or 15 guys out there on the field and other teams in the (MBC) will be using 22 to 25. We don't have as many substitutes as other teams."

Hull will be the kicker and Warner will handle punting duties.

"The kids have been very coachable," Priest said. "They are definitely staying with fundamentals. They hear what we're saying and are applying those when they go out on the field. They're more coachable than any group I've had here."