October 29, 2010 10:02:00 AM
It all has been leading up to this.
The Victory Christian football team will try at 7 tonight to extend its push for a third consecutive Christian Football Association title when it plays host to Tabernacle.
A victory tonight would push Eagles (7-0) into a championship game against the winner of tonight''s game between Tuscaloosa Christian and North River. That game would be played next week at Tuscaloosa Christian in Cottondale, Ala.
It seems like everything has been leading up to this point for Victory Christian, which has won 29 games in row the past three seasons. This year, the Eagles thought they would have enough depth and talent to reload for another title run. But the team''s youth at key positions created questions early in the season and following a 27-6 victory against New Life on Sept. 3 in its second regular-season game.
Victory Christian, though, overcame that atypically low-scoring game and has found its stride. The Eagles have scored 82 and 68 points in victories this season, and are coming off a 55-30 victory last week at Tuscaloosa Christian that helped it secure the No. 1 seed in the CFA.
Victory Christian also defeated Tabernacle 49-14 on Sept. 10 in its third game of the season, but coach Chris Hamm said his team has plenty left to play to avoid overconfidence.
"I know they''re excited about it, especially the seniors," Hamm said. "I could sense after the Tuscaloosa Christian game that a weight has been lifted and we''re really in position to do this thing."
Hamm said position changes at quarterback, with Marcus Sims, and on the offensive line, with a ninth-grade guard and an 11th-grade guard who didn''t play last season, and with players like Kaleb Holliness and Ben Williams playing bigger roles created some apprehension. He feels the victory last season gave the team confidence he hopes it will rely on the next two weeks.
To get to next week, Hamm said Victory Christian will have to control Tabernacle''s running game. He said the defense has been challenged to answer the call to set the stage for an offense that can hurt teams in a variety of ways.
Hamm said the Eagles'' offense has gained the reputation for always being able to score and to carry the team, if needed. The New Life game created new problems to be solved, which Hamm said the players appear to have answered.
Now the trick will be to avoid the pitfalls of playing a team you already have beaten easily once this season to reach the ultimate destination.
"Being at home, being comfortable, having the crowd, that is why you play and try to get the home-field advantage," Hamm said. "I would love to have the championship game, too, but that is not going to be the case. I think having Tabernacle come here sets up well for us."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.