The Airline Vikings kept their hopes for a repeat District 1-5A championship alive with a 25-11 victory over Captain Shreve Friday night at Airline Stadium.
Airline (5-4, 3-1) can earn a share of the title with a victory over No. 2 ranked Parkway (8-0, 4-0) this Friday at Preston Crownover Stadium.
Parkway clinched a share of the title for the second straight year with a 34-3 victory over Byrd last Friday night.
Last year, Airline entered the final game of the season undefeated in district play, but Byrd defeated the Vikings on a last-second field goal, creating a three-way tie for first.
That could happen again if Airline pulls off the upset, and Byrd defeats Haughton Thursday.
But Airline coach Bo Meeks isn’t worried about all that. He’s just happy the Vikings have put themselves in the position they are in.
“That’s the thing we talked about, just giving ourselves that opportunity, and the guys have really battled,” he said.
“This is the most I’ve seen a team improve from the beginning of the season until the end of the season. That’s playing and coaching and all the teams I’ve been involved with.
“I’m just proud of those guys, the senior leadership. Those guys have really stepped up and helped those young guys grow up. We’re looking forward to the opportunity.”
Captain Shreve (2-6, 0-4) made the Vikings work for the victory Friday.
The Gators rallied from an 11-0 deficit to tie the game in the third quarter.
But then the Airline offense came alive.
The Vikings had touchdown drives of 80 and 67 yards in the fourth quarter.
One of the biggest plays in either was 39-yard pass from Jacob James to Jake Engelke on third down that kept the first drive alive.
“We came out flat offensively in the second half but really turned it up there at the end,” Meeks said.
“Our offensive line took over. Chase (Rivers) and Roderick (Spurlock) at fullback did a great job and Jacob and Kavonte (Johnson) especially really hammered out some runs.”
James rushed for 96yards on 14 carries and scored on a 5-yard run. Johnson scored the Vikings’ final touchdown on a 5-yard run and finished with 51 yards on 15 carries.
Shuncee Thomas, who scored Airline’s first TD on a 28-yard run in the first quarter, carried 12 times for 55 yards.
The Airline defense held the Gators to just 124 total yards with 45 of that coming on a touchdown pass that helped Shreve tie it in the third quarter.
“Defensively, we played well all night,” Meeks said. “Again, we don’t really win pretty. But we’ve been winning and I’m just really proud of the job our guys are doing.”