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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Howard forward Amos Vyizigiro tracks down a long pass during the District 8-AA soccer title game against visiting Red Bank on Thursday night.

Amos Vyizigiro is a natural on the pitch for the Howard Hustlin' Tigers.

The junior took command in the TSSAA District 8-AA boys' soccer championship game Thursday night, scoring twice and assisting on another goal to help his team to a 3-1 home win against Red Bank.

Vyizigiro's success is built on skills he learned growing up in Africa, where his older brother Lewis currently plays professionally in the Burundi Premier League.

"I started playing soccer at a very young age," Vyizigiro said. "We lived in Burundi and Kenya, and my dad was a soccer coach and I used to go train with him every day. Even though I was small, I was fast, and my dad's team would let me play with them.

"Moving to America, I just want to keep working hard. I was nervous at first, but once I let the game come to me, it gets easier. To win this district championship is fun, but we would like to go a lot further."

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Red Bank at Howard boys' soccer on May 13, 2021

Speed remains a factor in favor of Vyizigiro, who assisted senior Clisman Ramirez Escobar in the middle of the box for the first goal five minutes into the game. Vyizigiro later received a cross from Escobar to score on a header for a three-goal lead just before halftime. It was his 26th goal this season for coach Jose Otero's team.

Four-year starting goalkeeper and regular-season district MVP Bryan Calderon Gomes raved about Vyizigiro, who has the Hustlin' Tigers (12-2-2) hoping to make a run to the state tournament for the second time in program history. The first was in 2018.

"Amos is really dangerous," said Gomes, who is Howard's captain. "He can score in any way, and it's fun to watch him play and connect with our teammates. I keep telling everybody to take every practice seriously because we can make it far again. I remember people told me a long time ago Howard wasn't much of anything, but look how far we've come. We have worked hard and have a great coaching staff. I hope we can make it to state again this year."

Red Bank's Josiah Tillett scored in the final six minutes on a penalty kick.

Ooltewah 3, Cleveland 0: The Owls (12-1) pulled away with two second-half goals to win the District 5-AAA championship. Rick Adolph's team avenged its only loss of the season and has now outscored its competition 52-7 heading into region tournament play.

Signal Mountain 3, Arts & Sciences 1: The Eagles won on the road to secure the District 5-A championship. Benjamin Burns, Sam Poss and Tuji Steele were named all-district players for Signal Mountain (7-2-4).

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.

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