Cross-town rivals square off tonight as Mount Airy hosts North Surry at Wallace Shelton Stadium.
The Granite Bears lost their first two games of the season, but showed signs of life last week in a win over Carroll County, Va.
The Greyhounds won their first two games before running into a good East Surry team last week.
While the rivalry is big on everyone’s mind, the two coaches say looking inward is the key this week.
North Coach Danny Lyons said, “Of course Mount Airy is a good team. … I’m worried more about us than anything else right now.”
Bear Coach Kelly Holder echoed that, “We are at a stage where we’re working to get better.”
“That doesn’t mean game planning isn’t important,” he said, but “we’ve got to get better at what we do.”
Against East Surry, the Hounds looked undisciplined at times, and Lyons said that responsibility falls to him.
The Hounds had 14 penalties and three turnovers that made a big difference in the game.
“We also missed assignments, too,” Lyons said.
“If we cut out our mistakes and do what we’re supposed to do, we can play with them,” said Lyons. However, he added, “Our margin for error is really small right now.”
As for the Bears, Holder said his team didn’t come through in the clutch in the first two games.
At some point, the players just have to come up with a big play at crucial times, and that didn’t happen in the losses, according to Holder.
Against Carroll County, the Bears did have some clutch plays, so the team may be turning the corner, he said.
The Hounds are still without three key players: running back Blaze Acord, defensive tackle Jordan DeHart and linebacker Bryan Martin.
Holder said the Bears have the usual nicks and bruises, but had a big loss last week when Andrew Moore went down.
“Andrew Moore has been really big so far this year,” said Holder, but he broke his fibula. Moore was one of the most improved players this season.
Lyons said the Hounds are well aware of quarterback Logan Holder’s arm and the quick feet of running back Devontae Dobson. And any game plan must include watching for lineman Isaiah King.
The Bears’ defensive line looks good this season, and King is a Division I talent, said Lyons.
“Nobody has worked as hard as Isaiah,” said Holder. He has natural talent, but he has made himself into a great player with effort.
“For us to go offensively and defensively, he’s got to be a part of it,” Holder said.
As for the Hounds, Holder has been impressed with running back/linebacker Dakota Goss.
The young man is a great athlete and would be the best player on the team at any position you tried him at, the coach said.
Goss has as good a set of feet as anybody Holder has seen at his size. While not very tall, Goss is muscular and faster than he looks.
When he’s taking handoffs or returning kicks, Goss has this little jump step that lets him change directions quickly, Holder noted.
Over the past three years, the Hounds have gone 23-9 in the regular season, but have lost to the Bears every time. The team believes this could be the year to break the streak.
Mount Airy has won the last six meetings by a score of 262-77. The last win for North was in 2006 by the narrow score of 27-26. However, the Hounds won 10 straight from 1991 to 2000.