Halfway through the college football season and the Berry Vikings are well on their way toward winning a fourth straight Southern Athletic Association title.
The Vikings are 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the conference, but with unbeaten Hendrix coming to Valhalla on Saturday, Berry head coach Tony Kunczewski isn’t letting his guard down.
“Being undefeated at this point in the season, we still have a chance, but the thing about football is every game matters,” Kunczewski said. “Every week is vitally important to keeping yourself alive in the conference. We feel really great about where we are. This 2019 team is finding its identity.”
The seventh-ranked Vikings hope to have an edge added to homefield advantage as the college will be hosting its annual Community Day beginning at 11 a.m. before Saturday’s 2 p.m. kickoff.
The Vikings will host groups from Rome and Floyd County including local schools and the Boys & Girls Club. Children who wear a team uniform from their school, recreation league or other local group will get two free tickets to the game.
“We would love to have the community come out here and support us,” Kunczewski said. “We need to utilize homefield advantage. We’re playing a team we have a lot of respect for and that is very dangerous.”
Berry is coming off a 55-0 blowout against Sewanee and hasn’t given up more than 14 points to an opponent all season. The Vikings’ defense has given up only 8.6 per game and is led by Alex Kirkendoll who has 25 total tackles through the first half of the season. Brandon Palmer leads in sacks with 3.5.
Berry and Hendrix (4-0, 1-0) have developed a bit of a rivalry over the past few seasons. The Vikings began their football program in 2013, which was the same year Hendrix restarted its program. The Vikings dropped their first ever contest against the Warriors, but have come out winners in the past five games.
Kunczewski said he’s enjoyed seeing the two programs develop as they meet each year.
“They had a much better start than we did,” Kunczewski said. “But it’s been a battle between these two teams. We’re happy we’ve got them at home, so hopefully we can use that to our advantage.”
Kunczewski said Hendrix quarterback Miles Thompson has been a powerful weapon for the Warriors’ offense. Thompson finished last week’s win against Rhodes 27-of-34 for 246 yards and two touchdowns.
“He has a really strong arm,” Kunczewski said. “He can run the ball, he can throw and he can move around. He’s everything you want as a quarterback and everything you hate to see on the other side of the ball.”