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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Jones: Viking football program shows promise

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Community's junior varsity football team finished its inaugural season this week in Huntland with a closing record of 1-7-1.

I realize that many reading this article may consider seven losses in nine outings to be a disappointing season, having become accustomed, maybe even spoiled by the past success of the Shelbyville and Cascade programs in recent years.

I am a proud member of the tight-knit Unionville community, and as such I have been fortunate to be a part of many conversations with parents, kids, grandparents, officials and coaches from opposing schools regarding Viking football over the course of this season.

With very few exceptions, the consensus of opinion is that this season was a resounding success despite the disparity in wins versus losses.

Give the Vikings a mulligan in the Page game, one that they lost 20-0 in a 15-day period where the team both lost and gained a head coach, installed a new offense and stocked their roster with kids that were literally still learning how to wear their gear properly, and you can begin to understand how the Viking faithful could feel this way.

Consider these factors.

The Vikings lost six games by a total of 28 points.

Of the losses, one was by one point, one by two points and three were decided by a touchdown, with all of the outcomes decided late in the fourth quarter.

They made school history by defeating Eagleville 6-0 in just the fifth game of the year and tied with Moore County, one of the most storied football programs in this area.

Freshman quarterback Justin Stallings threw nine touchdown passes, five that covered 50 yards or more. He passed for 100 yards or more five times.

The offense averaged 17 points and 224 total yards a game, despite playing only eight minute quarters due to a lack of lights.

Running back Ryan Sheehan rushed for 100 or more yards on four occasions and just missed that mark in two others.

Sophomores Chris Molder and Josh Green also contributed heavily in the running game when called upon, as well as playing stalwart defense all season.

Freshman Zach Haynes and sophomore Cory Mullins matured into a formidable duo at wide receiver, with five touchdown catches between them, and became go-to guys when the chips were down.

The future looks bright for the offensive and defensive lines. Youngsters Migel Lara, Eric Howell, Michael Demorest, Josh Graves and Dustin Mason often found themselves blocking against athletes with varsity experience.

Hunter Brothers, Michael Smith, Lance Paschal, Brett Bell, Kelby Demonbreum and Thor Mulkey will move up from the junior high squad and will be counted on to contribute next season after proving themselves more than capable athletes.

Only time will tell, but from all indications principal Robert Ralston and assistant principal Keith Williams have put the Community program into the right hands.

Head coach Bart Fann has repaid their faith in him by proving himself to be an excellent motivator for his young team, gaining their trust and respect early on in his tenure, in no small part because he extended the same to them.

He offered the same qualities to any parent that approached him with questions, comments or concerns while having an open door policy in such matters.

Fann has proven to be amenable to new ideas and open minded enough to implement them into the game plan and give credit where it was due.

Every opposing coach that I spoke to commented on how well prepared Fann's team was and how well their game plan was executed.

All factors considered, the Unionville community has it right.

This season was a success and the future is bright.

Jimmy Jones is a Times-Gazette sports writer.

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