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Friday, May 6, 2016

Vikings turn corner with best season in school's history

Thursday, November 10, 2011

T-G Photo by Jimmy Jones Quarterback Quinn Frost (4), lineman Jacob Ledbetter (78) and tailback Austin Lees (21) led the Viking offense to a record season.
They didn't make the playoffs, only won three games, and won't win any fancy awards at post season banquets but make no doubt about it -- the Community Vikings football team played an exciting brand of ball and the program has turned the corner toward respectability in the most competitive season in their history.

Coach Johnny Frost's roster was challenged to say the least, forced to compete with half the players that his opponents lined the sidelines with. Playing a full season with just 21 men simply lends credence to the incredible mental and physical fortitude that the Purple and Gold squad put on display this season.

"I just can't put into words how proud I am of my guys," Frost said. "Each and every one of them worked hard all year long and most importantly, they developed a unity that only a single-minded team with just one purpose can accomplish.

T-G Photo by Jimmy Jones Coach Johnny Frost has built a strong program after just five years at the helm.
"These kids have a genuine fondness for each other and as a result their support system is strong and unyielding for one another. We were truly a team, not a collection of individuals."

The Vikings finished 3-7 but left as many as three wins on the field as a by-product of outplaying their opponent a majority of the game only to run out of gas late because their players had to play on both sides of the ball as well as special teams.

Impressive rankings

They graduate only two seniors from a team that averaged 23 points per game and have three players that ranked in the top of the state rankings offensively.

Sophomore Quinn Frost finished the 2011 campaign ranked 10th in the state with 1,829 yards passing, completing 106-of- 214 attempts for 20 touchdowns.

Austin Lees had an outstanding season with 1,184 yards rushing in just nine games. The diminutive junior averaged 8.2 yards per carry and reached the end zone on nine occasions. He had 10 carries of 50 or more yards on the season.

The Viking explosive offense was made even more potent with the breakout season of junior receiver Zack James, who caught 51 passes for 1,027 yards and 17 touchdowns despite facing double coverage for a majority of the season.

James led the state for most of the season before finishing third overall with an impressive average of 20.1 yards per catch.

Defensively, the Vikings were led by linebackers Ethan Hardin, Jose "Chewy" Villaneuva and the hogs up front in Jacob Ledbetter, Austin Stallings, Eric Haman, Justin Handy and the boys.

Strong finish

Community finished its season with a 37-6 blowout of Kings Academy in the shadows of Neyland Stadium in the final game of the season.

It was a game that Frost paid the ultimate tribute to one of his seniors hard work and loyalty by lining Jacob Ledbetter up in the backfield and handing him the ball at the goal line. Ledbetter left the stadium with the lifelong memory of having scored two touchdowns in his final game.

"We felt that it was only fitting that Jacob got to live out his dream of being a running back," Frost said. "He had earned the right with his unselfish work in the trenches and we were really pleased that he was able to score.

"The look on his face afterwards was priceless. Both he and Scott Forlines, our other senior, have been the ultimate team mates on and off the field. We will miss their leadership, but we look forward to following and supporting them in their future endeavors.

"They will always be Vikings and they can be proud of the foundation that they helped establish for this program."

Future contender

The Vikings have turned the corner and are knocking on the door of becoming a major player in District 9-A.

The community has responded with a colossal outpouring of support by filling the stands and were often times the most positive and demonstrative fans in the league.

Viking memorabilia is worn proudly by people throughout Bedford County and opposing teams are no longer marking a 'W' on the schedule before the games are played. At least the smart ones aren't.

As good as they were this season, imagine what they could accomplish next season if they can entice the scores of outstanding athletes walking the halls and lining the fence on Friday nights to give the gridiron a try.

They have some help coming from a very talented middle school group, but the Vikings playoff hopes and a possible district title may very well depend on getting those young men to suit up.

It would take a concerted effort by Robbie Davis, Aaron Reid, Tony Garrett, Josh Burrahm, Jace Bryant and Frost to pool their resources and formidable powers of persuasion in a unified effort to better the program.

My money is on them.

Jimmy Jones
Sports commentary

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