Lees shines on homecoming; Vikes win consecutive district games for 1st time
UNIONVILLE -- Community senior Austin Lees had a night that was fit for-well-like royalty in a Friday night 41-21 win over Huntland.
Lees was crowned homecoming king during pre-game festivities, then promptly ruled the gridiron by shredding the Hornet defense for 362 all-purpose yards and scoring five touchdowns to lead the Vikings to their first ever homecoming win.
It also marks the first time in school history that the Vikings have won consecutive district games.
"It was a phenomenal night for our team and our community," Viking coach Johnnie Frost said.
"Homecoming is always a special event and Austin will remember his for the rest of his life. I can't speak for him but I am sure he will tell you that the guys up front played an outstanding game and he was able to take full advantage of the holes they opened for him.
"Our team is about 10 or 11 plays away from having five or six wins. We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole early in the season but we are starting to peak at just the right time."
Lees and the offensive line started the scoring with a 44-yard run with just five minutes gone in the first period after Viking defensive back Tyler Cowan made a clutch play on a fake punt near midfield.
Cowan read the play perfectly and knocked the pass down to give his team possession. Lees run came seconds later to knock the visitors back on their heels.
Leading 7-0 going into the second frame, the Vikings drove deep into Huntland territory only to have a TD run by Frost called back on a penalty away from the ball. A turnover halted the drive on the next play and the Hornets seized the opportunity.
Dylan Stephens did most of the damage for the Hornets on their scoring drive and it was he who took the rock to pay dirt at the 21-second mark to tie the game at intermission.
"We had what I like to call homecoming hangover in the first half," Frost said. "Homecoming is a good thing for the kids but as a coach we have to realize that the players are going to be distracted away from the game and there is a period of refocusing that has to take place.
"I thought our kids did a pretty good job of fighting through the distractions in the second half.
"They told us in the locker room to have some faith in the running game and that they would open some holes. We did and they did just what they told us they would do.
"It was a huge sign of maturity as a team and I couldn't be more proud of the way they rewarded our staffs faith in them those last two quarters."
Huntland opened the third quarter with a long drive aided by several penalties to take the lead with 8:43 showing but it would be all Purple and Gold from there.
Special teams shine
Special teams shined for Community all night long but none more than on the next kickoff when they threw several devastating blocks for Lees who took it 70 yards to the Huntland 12-yard line. Taylor Paschal took it to the 2-yard line and then Lees finished it off with a 2-yard plunge to tie the game.
After the defense took the ball away on a turnover, Lees gave the capacity crowd and scouts in attendance something to take note of when he simply outran everybody on the field for a 72-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 20-14 advantage with 4:27 left in the quarter.
Community then executed an onside kick to perfection to take advantage of a surprised Hornet defense with James taking the ball in the air and falling on it inside the enemies territory.
Quinn Frost then connected with James in the end zone to bump the score to 27-14.
Lees struck again the opening minutes of the fourth quarter when James recovered a second consecutive onside attempt and the senior tailback made the score 34-14 moments later on a 15-yard jaunt.
The Vikings broke out the Wildcat formation for their final score with Lees taking the direct snap for his fifth score of the night.
Paschal rushed four times for 41 yards. Pride had 50 yards on four carries and Frost netted 21 yards on four carries for the home team.
Lees finished with 217 yards on 17 carries.
Community takes on Cascade in Wartrace on Friday night at 7.