Despite a 4-7 record in 2014, the Airline Vikings haven’t been overlooked entering this season. In fact, head coach Bo Meeks’ crew has been the subject of much of the offseason buzz in what promises to be a brutally tough District 1-5A.
Meeks has no problem with the attention. He is confident the bond his seasoned squad has formed and unprecedented depth on Viking Drive could turn some of the frustrating Ls into Ws this time around.
“We’re really excited,” Meeks said. “We have several third-year starters. Through the length of our district schedule, the key is going to be staying healthy.”
For the past couple of years, Airline, Parkway, Haughton and Byrd have helped make 1-5A one of the most difficult leagues in the state. This year, Evangel has been added to the lineup.
That could play into the hands of Airline, a school that’s posted some of the largest incoming classes in the area.
“Our numbers have continued to grow,” Meeks said. “This is the deepest we’ve been. With our schedule, especially through the district, it’s going to be important.”
While the large pool of athletes provides a coach’s dream, Meeks says he’s just as excited about the relationships his players have formed.
“I really like the chemistry of this team,” he said. “We have a group of kids that hang out together away from school.”
The ring leader on offense is 6-foot-5, 280-pound tackle Colton Prater, a senior committed to play at Texas A&M.
“Everyone looks up to him,” Meeks said.
On defense, Meeks points to linebacker/safety Vertrain Allen (6-1, 200).
“He’s really worked hard in the offseason and shown the guys the way to what we want,” Meeks said.
With the cycle of experience in Airline’s corner this season, Meeks hopes to avoid the gutting defeats. In 2014, a five-point loss to Ruston and two-point defeat to Haughton prevented an opportunity at a winning season.
“In the offseason, we focused on overcoming adversity,” Meeks said. “When we get in that crucial situation where we’ve got to make a play, we need to battle that adversity and get it done. The guys have worked through what we’ve challenged them to do.”
The Vikings open the 2015 campaign at home against Union Parish on Sept. 4. The schedule is back loaded as Airline plays at Haughton and Evangel and then hosts Byrd and Parkway in the final four weeks.
Coach: Bo Meeks
2014 Season: 4-7
Sept. 4, Union Parish
Sept. 11, Green Oaks
Sept. 18, at Ruston
Sept. 25, Southwood
Oct. 2, at Captain Shreve
Oct. 8, Mansfield
Oct. 16, at Haughton
Oct. 23, at Evangel Christian Academy
Oct. 30, Byrd
Nov. 6, Parkway