The Colton Vikings advanced to the playoffs this year for the first time since 2008. Santiam Christian knocked them out in the opening round with a 49-0 win, but the Vikings still have a lot to be proud about.

“When me and Mike [Clarke] and the other coaches took over the team, we asked for three years to get to the playoffs,” Coach Dan Leighton said. “And we made it.”

The journey has been a long and winding road, paved with long practices, unfortunate injuries, and the week-to-week highs and lows that come with wins and losses. But now is the time to reflect on the season and plan for next year, and that’s just what Leighton is doing.

“We’re going to miss the seniors next year,” Leighton said. “They got us there (into the playoffs). They worked hard, through the grind. Those nine got us there.”

Though he’s losing many talented players, Leighton is hopeful for next year.

“I see us in about the same boat next year, hopefully making it further in playoffs though,” Leighton said. “We just need to be more physical. That’s key.”

The incoming freshman class has been proving themselves this year at Colton Middle School, and while they probably won’t be major players on the varsity football squad for at least another year or two, Coach Leighton is keeping his eyes open, scouting their potential. “I’ve been to two or three of their games,” he said. “They’re very talented young men.”

With the system and infrastructure Leighton has installed, Colton football is in a good place.

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