– BY MICHAEL KNIGHT
Last year, Victory Christian faced several different challenges. They had to replace All American linebacker Jon-Michael Terry. They also had to replace a quarterback in Keats Calhoon, who finished with the second most passing yards in state history. Finally, the Conquerors would drop down from 3A to 2A and faced all new competition. They responded with one of the better seasons in school history as they went 13-2 and made it to the state championship game where they fell to Millwood.
“If we don’t get in the championship game, we’ll feel like we underachieved.” head coach Ron Smith said about the expectations heading into 2017. “We all know that Millwood was the best football team last year. Football is football, you have to have players to win games. We feel like we have that.”
Leading the charge for Victory Christian will be quarterback RJ Wakley. The soon-to-be senior quarterback had the tall task of replacing the four year starter in Calhoon. He came out in their first game and threw for over 500 yards, a school record, in their 49-48 shootout win over Bristow. The following week, the Conquerors were surprisingly shutout against Sperry in 38-0 drubbing. They would respond by winning 12 consecutive games and made it to the title game where turnovers plagued them in the loss to Millwood.
Wakley finished the year with over 2,600 yards and 28 touchdowns in a Victory offense that was much more balanced with the pass and the run. Running back Tyler Hicks finished with just over 1,400 yards on the ground and reached the end zone 21 times on the year. Hicks was also second on the team in receptions with 61. Wakley also has his top receiver back in Caleb Calhoon. The wideout led the Conquerors with 81 receptions for over 1,350 yards and 20 touchdowns. Victory will without a doubt have the firepower to contend again in 2017.
However, the reigning champion Millwood Falcons will have some firepower of their own and will enter the season as the favorite to repeat as 2A champion. Victory Christian doesn’t need that reminder.
“There’s no motivation needed by the coaching staff,” Smith said. “We walked in that weight room in January, we didn’t have to say a word. I’ve been at Victory for seven years and I’ve never seen them work so hard. These kids are hungry. Losing a state championship game leaves a sour taste in your mouth, you lose sleep over it.”