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Memorial’s season last year was a success but had it’s embarrassing moments. The Vipers, who were coming off a 2-8 record in 2007, went 5-5 in 2008 and made the playoffs. That was the good part. The bad came in three of the losses.

Memorial gave up 52 points to Converse Wagner, 58 to Converse Judson and 49 to San Antonio Clark in the bi-district round of the playoffs. In those games, Memorial’s only offensive production came with a lonely touchdown against Wagner.

The Vipers fully expect to make the playoffs this year and know they can’t allow teams to score at-will like Clark, Wagner and Judson did last year. They’ll also have to score against those opponents, but the defense will have to step up.

That’s been a point-of-emphasis the first two days of practice.

Memorial cannot put on pads and have full-contact drills until Friday, but the team is working on defense by getting to the football. “You are limited on fundamentals on defense without pads on, so the main thing we want to do is run to the football,” Memorial head coach Mickey Finley said.

Defensive coordinator Clint Finley ran drills on Monday having his defense pursue receivers after the catch. The drill had the defensive players taking different angles and sprinting to the ball carrier. After every offensive set, the defense would sprint and surround the ball.

Time will tell how effective these drills are against the Rockets and Thunderbirds of the football world, but it can’t hurt. The defense is establishing early that defense is a priority and allowing the football to advance isn’t going to come without a Viper being there to try and stop it.