By LEE HILLER, Journal Sports
Airline has high expectations for its 2023 football season after finishing last season as the undefeated District 1-5A champions, but the Vikings have a loaded schedule that includes two state runners-up and six other opponents that made the playoffs.
It all starts with one of the biggest games of the 2023 season when Airline hosts Non-Select Division II state runner-up North DeSoto. It will feature a battle of returning quarterbacks that both passed for more than 2,500 yards. Ben Taylor had 3,110 yards in 11 games for the Vikes and Luke Delafield 2,516 yards for the Griffins in 14 games.
The next week doesn’t get much easier as the Vikings travel to Farmerville to play Union Parish, the Non-Select Division III state runner-up who, like North DeSoto, finished last season 12-2.
Airline hosts Northwood in Week 3. The Falcons finished 2022 with a 9-3 record for the second season in a row and have won nine or more games five of the last six seasons.
District 1-5A had six of its eight teams make the playoffs in 2022 and one of the schools that missed the playoffs — Natchitoches Central — has a new coach in Jess Curtis, who took Many to three state titles.
The Vikes’ first district game will have last year’s district runner-up Benton coming to Airline. The Tigers have the top returning running back in the district in Greg Manning, who ran for more than 1,400 yards.
The Vikes will travel to Natchitoches to face the Chiefs at the mid-point of the season before returning to host Captain Shreve. Three of their last four games will be on the road as they go to Haughton, host Byrd and finish the season at Parkway and Southwood.
Airline 2023 schedule
Sep. 1 North DeSoto
Sep. 8 at Union Parish
Sep. 15 Northwood
Sep. 22 Benton
Sep. 28 at Natchitoches Central
Oct. 6 Captain Shreve
Oct. 12 at Haughton
Oct. 20 Byrd
Oct. 27 at Parkway
Nov. 3 at Southwood