November 5, 2009 10:24:00 AM
A variety of weapons has helped the Victory Christian football team overcome an assortment of obstacles this season.
Like many of the other teams in the state of Mississippi, the Eagles have dealt with enough rain to last five seasons. The rain has left Victory Christian''s home field -- as well as many of its opponents'' fields -- a soggy mess.
Victory Christian also had to find a way to stay focused through a four-week layoff due to forfeits and scheduling changes and then regroup for the stretch run.
But players like Daylan Hairston and Tyler Jones have helped make coach Chris Hamm''s job a little easier.
Hairston, a senior running back/linebacker, and Jones, a junior tight end/linebacker, played key roles Friday in a 46-6 victory against Victory Millbrook in the semifinals of the Christian Football Association playoffs.
The victory helped Victory Christian, the defending CFA champions, secure a return trip to the conference title game. The Eagles will travel Friday to Cottondale, Ala., where they will take on Tuscaloosa Christian. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Hairston rushed for 150 yards and three touchdowns Friday, while Jones, a 6-foot-2, 175-pounder, caught touchdown passes of 37, 73, and 90 yards from quarterback Parker Eaves to help Victory Christian improve to 9-0.
Hairston and Jones have played equally important roles on a defense Hamm said has played really well this season. Hamm credited defensive coaches Kevin Harrell and Todd Dyer for directing a defense that has allowed only 66 points.
"Daylan plays real smart on defense and is able to read after the first quarter what the offense is doing," Hamm said. "If we have a missed assignment, Daylan is going to be the one to chase it down. He is almost like a safety. They are not going get a breakaway on us most of the time because he has the athleticism.
"Tyler did a real good job Friday night. Early in the game we got him a pass and he scored on a long touchdown. He had a real good offensive game."
Hairston splits time at fullback with Ben Williams. Hamm said Hairston has done a good job on the inside runs to give the spread offense a different dimension.
Hairston feels he has had a good season, in part thanks to the play of the offensive line an to Eaves. He said his play on offense typically overshadows his play on defense because of the Eagles'' high-scoring ways.
Hamm said that shouldn''t always be the case because Hairston has a knack for breaking down defenses.
Hairston, who has played football for eight years, credits his coaches for helping put him in positions to succeed.
"I have been able to do it the last three or four years, and part of that comes from having a good coach like coach Hamm," said Hairston, a 6-foot, 180-pounder.
Jones'' height and pass-catching ability have given the Eagles another weapon to complement wide receiver C.J. Bell and running back Landon Ellis. He said Jones provides strong blocking when the Eagles go to a tighter formation. When they go to their spread, Hamm said Jones and Bell split out wide.
"It was pouring down rain (Friday night) and I don''t think he dropped a pass," Hamm said. "That''s what we talked about before the game, if you''re going to be a champion you have to overcome whatever."
Jones thought the Eagles would run the ball more than they did. After he caught the first touchdown pass, he knew he had to maintain his focus and keep his hands dry.
Initially, Jones might not have been one of the team''s biggest weapons, but he has played with confidence and given Hamm another playmaker who can give defenses fits.
"I guess it has been a pretty good season," said Jones, who suffered a broken left hand last season. "The last part of the year we''re throwing the ball a little more. (On defense), I just try to help out where I can. I like playing on both sides of the ball, but I like defense more. I like tackling and hitting people, and hitting people when they''re not ready."
Hamm also praised the play of defensive linemen Nick Hairston and Hunter Johnson and Williams and Paul Blair and cornerbacks Ellis and Bell for their play on a defense that has helped give the offense a lot of confidence.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.