Thomas, defense lead Airline past Union Parish

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Shuncee Thomas scored three touchdowns and the Airline defense came up big in a 21-0 season-opening victory over Union Parish Friday night at Airline Stadium.

Union Parish, which went 11-2 last season, was ranked No. 4 in the Class 3A preseason poll.

“That’s a team in 3A that’s going to go a long way,” Airline coach Bo Meeks said.

Thomas finished with 170 yards on 16 carries with most of that coming in the first half. He scored on runs of 59, 6 and 34 yards.

Brian Fielding added 66 yards on nine carries, including an 18-yard run on a touchdown drive. Bryson Vance recovered a fumble to set up a TD. Coby McGee ran for 75 yards on just three carries as the Vikings piled up 324 yards on the ground.

“We ran the ball great tonight,” Meeks said. “The offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage. Both backs, Shuncee and Brian, ran really, really well.”

Airline quarterback Thoms McKain completed just three passes but he did a good job of managing the game. Cameron Howell caught two passes for 34 yards.

The Airline defense made a couple of big fourth-down stops in Vikings territory.

In the second half, Airline did a good job keeping the clock running.

“We did and that’s OK with us,” Meeks said. “We just want to win. They’re a ball control offense. We knew that.”

The Vikings had one promising drive in the second half end with a missed field goal. Union Parish didn’t make a serious threat.

“I’m very pleased with the effort,” Meeks said. “A shutout on defense. We just established the line of scrimmage there and did a great job of finishing.”

Penalties hurt both teams. The Farmers had a successful fake punt called back in the second half. The Vikings were flagged 16 times for 125 yards.

“We had some self-inflicted wounds that kept the score down,” Meeks said. “There are a lot of things we can clean up. We’re looking forward to working on that and getting ready for Green Oaks.”

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com