A team with a rich history and exceptional pedigree is taking on a new look after a lost season. The Jefferson College Vikings, a highly decorated organization that boasts four JUCO World Series appearances and routinely churns out MLB players, has decided to start fresh after a partially cancelled season due to COVID 19.
In 2021 they will attempt to continue their long history of success with a new, but familiar face at the helm. Former Viking Co-Captain and MVP, Zac Bone, has been selected to fill the void left by Kevin Moulder as the new Head Coach. Bone not only shined as a player for JeffCo, but also spent time as an assistant coach, working primarily with pitchers and catchers.
The new Head Coach appears to have a baseball obsession, which is exactly what you want in the makeup of the man running an organization that won seven Region XVI Championships and 22 MCCAC titles, including 12 in a row from 2007-2018. Bone spent 10 years improving the Herculaneum Blackcats program as their Head Coach, before making the move to come back to the Vikings as the skipper… and should fit like a glove.
He’s also still keeping his current standing as the Head Coach of the Festus American Legion Post 253 Baseball Program, that he has been captaining since 2012. So, when he’s not leading this new crop of Viking soon-to-be superstars, he’s working on getting the American Legion boys back to yet another World Series.
Seeing as how you can’t help but ask Coach Bone about the National Pastime, naturally, we peppered him with baseball questions about his new squad. And thanks to the cavalcade of success the Vikings have procured over the years, we know no season is ever going to be an easy one. When asked about how his new club will fare with their current slate in 2021, he bluntly stated, “Our schedule features 4 opponents (John A. Logan, Wabash Valley, Crowder and Parkland) who are ranked in the top 10 nationally in the pre-season NJCAA Baseball poll. Region 16 is always one of the most competitive baseball leagues in the country, and there are no easy weeks.”
Message received. These Vikings will once again have their work cut out for them. That being said, it certainly doesn’t mean they can’t rise to the challenge. When pressed with the expectations of his new team this season, Coach Bone confidently responded with, “The expectations for Jefferson College Baseball are always to compete for Region 16 and District Championships and a trip to the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, CO.” Not surprising in the least that a program of this ilk would settle for anything less than the ultimate goal.
To be that successful though, a team must have an edge… certain elements of strength that set them apart from the competition. When asked what his team brings to the table in this regard, Coach Bone quipped, “The strengths of this team are offensive depth and versatility. The Vikings have multiple players who have a realistic chance to steal double digit bases and have double digit extra base hits. The roles of the pitching staff will work themselves out over the course of the season, as many pitchers can fill starting and relief roles effectively.”
Then there are the standouts. The Vikings always boast a litany of extraordinary baseball players, but as far as this season in particular, these are the individuals to watch on high alert. Keep in mind these statistics are from a cancelled, shortened season.
Jack Rigoni – Crushed to the extent of a triple slash line of .326/.366/.554, and went an unheard of 25-25 in stolen bases while blasting 3HR with 17 RBI.
Trevor Tietz – Dominated hitters with 22 K in 11 Innings and racked up three saves.
Josh Gibson– Hit .254/.383/.403 with 10 stolen bases, two doubles and three triples.
When asked about the remainder of his gaggle of burgeoning superstars, Coach Bone broke it down for us. These are his words…
Landon Tenkhoff – A Sophomore who is an excellent defensive catcher and power bat with great leadership qualities.
Payton Howard – A Freshman transfer from St Louis University, switch-hitting outfielder who can really run and has power from both sides of the plate.
Jordan Duncan – A Freshmen right-handed infielder and pitcher. He will see time as a starting pitcher and infielder, hitting in the middle of the lineup.
Bryce Miller – A Freshman catcher who will see time behind the plate, as well as at 1B and DH. He has great defensive ability and plus power.
Adam Drewry – A Sophomore right-handed pitcher who will see time in starting and relief roles this season.
Eli Ecton – A Sophomore right-handed pitcher who will be in the starting rotation this season.
Brayden Eftink – A Freshman right-handed pitcher and outfielder who will see time at both positions.
It’s hard to argue with this impressive list of baseball players, and the versatility shines through in spades. The Vikings are sure to have yet another incredible season, and no one has more vested interest in that than Zac Bone.
Be assured that the new man in charge will do everything in his baseball-saturated psyche to propel these potential stars to a bright and valuable future. The sky is the limit for this talented team, and we can’t wait to see the results this season.