Victory Eagles swoop in state titlePublished 11:18am Thursday, November 7, 2013
Union Springs, Ala. — The Victory Baptist Eagles capped off a perfect 10-0 season Friday with a 45-13 win over Faith Christian Academy in the Alabama Christian Education Athletic Association (ACEAA) six-man state championship game.
Coming full circle after not winning a game last year, the Eagles, led by first-year head coach Jim Hardy, formed a stronger bond and confidence in each other that led to their undefeated run.
“At the end of year, they were tied for last place, and it was more of they didn’t have the self confidence in each other to do the job,” Hardy said. “But now it was just a team awareness and being able to understand that every play has to do with everybody and not just one person. I think they understood that, and the team came together.
“You know, last year (opposing teams) would might pick on one person, and get away with it, but this year when you tried to pick on one, you got all of them.”
The players coming together–on-the-field and off-the-field–added a new dynamic to VBS, Hardy believed, that provided an edge over opponents.
“The guys made a unique blend of personalities and backgrounds,” the coach said. “You know, you got some of them liking one type or entertainment, and some liking another type. I think it was the perfect, mix of talent, hard workers and athleticism. I feel like it made for a team you couldn’t really prepare for because you had to worry about all of them.”
And the Eagles proved that theory time and time again in 2013. The team set a school record in wins and points scored in a single game with 92 against the eventual state runner-up Faith Christian in their first meeting.
They handily beat every team that handily beat them in 2012. For Hardy and his Eagles, it started with the right preparation and as the team readied for the state title contest, the group didn’t waver from that approach.
“I felt that they were prepared mentally because I prepared them as it was just another game, and that it was not the state title game,” said Hardy. “The scoreboard and the title will take care of itself. I think with that mental process, we got it to where it needed to be to get the job done.”
And the Eagles went to work immediately as senior running back Jerrell Harris took the game’s opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, his first of three scores.
VBS never looked back.
Sophomore quarterback Mason Byrd accounted for the other three touchdowns for Victory, passing for two and returning an interception for the other. It was Byrd’s only interception of the season- he didn’t throw any this season. Both teams scored over 50 in their regular season matchup just three weeks earlier, with Victory winning 92-64.
Harris, Mason Byrd, Will Byrd, junior receiver Benton Dunklin, and junior linebacker Auston Deneve were named to the all-state team at their respective positions post-game. Frazier was also named the conference MVP.
After the game, Hardy told them that they’re win and their perfect season would have a rippling effect.
“I told them, one, how proud I was of them because of the hard work they put into it. They probably don’t realize it now, but people will be rewarded doing the right things, because of their accomplishments, and provide this type of knowledge to their kids and others’ kids, you can get by with hard work and preparation.”