Vikings Kick Off Preseason Play

The Portland State football team opens its 2001 preseason practice tomorrow morning on the Stott Community Field.

The program welcomes 37 newcomers who will practice twice on Thursday and Friday, then, following team meetings on Saturday, be joined by 53 returning players on Sunday.

PSU will practice twice a day for most of the month of August on the Community Field. Most morning practices will start at 8:45 a.m. and afternoon practices begin at 2:45 p.m.

Head Coach Tim Walsh begins his ninth season with PSU with the hopes of another NCAA 1-AA playoff berth in 2001. In only its fifth year as a member of the division, PSU made the 1-AA playoffs for the first time in 2000.

The Vikings were 8-4 in 2000, but the loss of 29 seniors and 16 full-time starters from that squad will make this a rebuilding year. Some key graduates include Charles Dunn (RB), Jimmy Blanchard (QB), Orshawante Bryant (WR), Rashad Floyd (CB) and Dan Frantz (K/P) ���� all of whom were first team All-Big Sky Conference selections.

But Walsh remains optimistic with a number of talented players remaining on the team. Strong returnees include Terry Charles (WR), Brent Donnerberg (SS), Brad Ransom (DL), Marcus Green (LB), Ron Granderson (ROV), Riley Hayes (C) and Scott Lesure (OL). A pair of transfers from PAC-10 schools should also play key roles for the Vikings this season.

“We made a commitment to a group of players five years ago who came up through the ranks and did a great job for us,” Walsh stated in a recent press release. “That group has graduated and now we have a lot of guys people don’t know about. We think there are a lot of good players here that just lack game experience. I know we don’t want to take a step backwards and I don’t believe we will. A lot depends on how this group comes of age as they get that experience.”

Predictions for the Vikings in 2001 have been fairly strong considering the large graduating class. PSU was selected third in both of the Big Sky Conference’s preseason polls, voted on by coaches and media.

The Vikings will have two major scrimmages during the preseason, Aug. 18 and 25 at PGE Park. Both will begin at approximately 9:30 a.m.