Lake Norman & Mooresville

'Game-changer' leads the way for young Vikings

Andrew Yost has been around football nearly his entire life. Having an older brother, Josh, play the sport, drew his attention to the gridiron.

Yost, now a senior, started playing football in second grade and by the time he arrived at North Mecklenburg, he made the varsity team and has been starting for the Vikings since his sophomore season.

"My family loves football," said Yost. He said that isn't the only reason he has stuck around football.

"I love to hit people, and there aren't many sports around that you can nail people and get applause for it."

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker has been doing just that this season, leading North Meck in tackles with 52, an area-high. Yost has been important for a young team that lost a lot of talent to graduation and to Hough.

Coming into this season, Yost said he knew he had to step up and lead the inexperienced North Meck squad.

"I put a lot of weight on my shoulders," said the 18-year-old. "I've been working hard in practice and trying to make all the plays I can out there to help this team."

Yost played a key role in the Vikings' lone victory this season, a 34-7 win over Myers Park.

North Meck head coach Mike Bradley said Yost single-handedly won that game for them.

"It's a 7-7 game and all of the sudden, he has three picks - one he takes back for a touchdown, the other one he gets tackled at the two-yard line," he said. "If that's not a game-changer, then there isn't one."

Yost said making those big plays was a great feeling.

"It was a lot of fun because, playing defense, we don't get to score a whole lot," he said. "Our offense has struggled this year, so anything we do to help them out is good."

Bradley described his middle linebacker as a smart player who's able to read offense well and can help his team adjust when needed.

"He's like our quarterback on defense," he said. "He calls our signals and puts people in the right places. If you watch us play, you'll see 32 pointing and directing his teammates."

That might come from the amount of time Yost spends watching film every week or the focus he has before games.

"I go out there and go over what I learned during the week," said Yost. "When it's time to play, I just want to go out there and have fun."

Yost said that playing on the same team with his brother Josh during his freshman year. was a great experience. Josh was an all-conference wide receiver for the Vikings from 2004-2007 and is now a junior tight end at Davidson College.

Yost said he learned from watching how Josh approached the game and was able to get some pointers on what to expect coming into the program.

"(Josh) helped me focus my attention, earlier than a lot of kids," said Yost. "I always wanted to fill his shoes and live up to his reputation. That's always been a little extra motivation for me."

Bradley, who was an assistant under now-Concord coach Glen Padgett during Josh's Viking career, said having Josh helped Andrew Yost grow as a player.

Bradley hopes the Myers Park win going into last week's bye will help the team regroup and get their I-Meck slate off to the right start when they take on Lake Norman Friday.

Yost said he was a bit disappointed with how the Vikings started the season, explaining that the Vikings (1-3) beat themselves during their first three games, losing to Olympic, Ardrey Kell and Providence by at least two touchdowns.

"We just gave up big plays," said Yost.

Yost is excited about being the underdogs this season in the I-Meck and having a chance to surprise a few teams.

Yost hopes that he'll be able to keep the pace from the Myers Park game and continue to lead the defense the rest of the year to give the Vikings a chance to win.

"We know we have a tough road ahead of us," he said. "But we just want to keep getting better every week."