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The Portland State Vikings last reached the FCS Playoffs in football back in 2015, in that time they’ve not only missed the playoffs three seasons in a row but they’ve not even gone over .500 since then.
In order for Portland State to go both over .500 or reach the FCS Playoffs, they’ll need a former Gig Harbor High School grad and former News Tribune Athlete of the Year to help them out.
In his two seasons under center for the Vikings, Davis Alexander has seen the level of his play rise each year. As a freshman, Alexander has been under center and has compiled over 3,500 yards of total offense and 30 touchdowns both rushing in his two seasons under center for the Vikings.
“He’s totally committed to the game of football,” Vikings head coach Bruce Barnum said. “You hear it a lot about student-athletes but with Davis it’s different. The kid lives for the game, it runs his day and he brings that winning mentality to our locker room.”
When he entered as a freshman, Portland State had just come off an 0-11 season and hit rock bottom and as a Freshman stats were the main focus for Alexander, not wins. Although the Vikings haven’t gone over .500 since 2015, the slow and steady climb back has evolved from Alexander being focused on his numbers to being focused on wins.
That winning mentality has carried over to the locker room where Alexander is a constant presence in motivating teammates and proving he’s a leader.
“I think when I was younger, I was focused on stats a lot and individual success,” Alexander said. “For me going from year one to year two, all I care about is winning. If our defense is struggling, I’ll try to keep them motivated. I’m encouraging them cause we’re in this together. Same thing if the offense is struggling, I’m going up to the guys to keep them motivated and encouraged while the defense is holding it down. Having that competitive edge, caring about winning. Just showing my teammates, no matter if it’s offense or defense, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win.”
If the Vikings want to go over .500 and find a way to reach the FCS Playoffs they will need to do it in the very difficult Big Sky Conference that is home to constant FCS standouts like Eastern Washington, Weber State, and UC-Davis. Wins have not come often to the Vikings so they’ve had to play the role of spoiler the last few seasons and Alexander relishes that role, even with its degree of difficulty.
“The Big Sky Conference is a place where there is no easy game, at least I think so I think a lot of teams would testify to that as well.” Alexander said. “We go into Montana last year un-ranked and they’re top 25 in the nation and we win on a last-second field goal. Kind of flipped their whole season around. You can’t coast into a game each week and think it’s an easy victory, there’s none of that in the Big Sky.”
Even before the arduous task of facing the Montana’s and the Eastern Washington’s of the world, the Vikings have two tough games against FBS foes to start the 2019 campaign. First, they travel to face the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville on August 31 at 1 p.m., two weeks later they hit the road again to face Boise State on the difficult blue turf of Albertsons Stadium. It won’t be easy, but Alexander remains optimistic about the Vikings chances.
“It starts with attitude for us, we have to go into that game expecting to win, instead of not playing to lose” Alexander said. “I feel like for a lot of us it feels like we’re checking off the boxes of our dreams being able to play in an SEC stadium. That’s gonna be really cool. At the same time, we’ve still gotta remember that their field is the same size as every other field. We’re gonna have to play our game--We’re gonna have to play a perfect game. We’re gonna have to limit penalties, limit the turnovers, and make big plays. If we do those things when our chance should be good.”