For the second week in a row, one of the four local football teams is taking a week off. This time around, Mount Airy is taking a break from its unbeaten campaign that has seen the Granite Bears rise to No. 3 in the statewide rankings from both NCPreps.com and MaxPreps.com. Returning to the field this week after a break is East Surry, which opens its defense of the Northwest Conference title with a date at winless Atkins.
However, the main focus will be on the two games being played locally, as both North Surry and Surry Central will be having Homecoming night. Each school is holding its festivities in its final game before taking a week off and then entering play in the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference.
SALISBURY AT SURRY CENTRAL
Surry Central, which suffered its first loss of the season last Friday night at Mount Airy, will look to get back on track against a team that the Golden Eagles owe some payback to. Two seasons ago, Central made the 2A state playoffs as the ninth seed and played at Salisbury in the first round. The Hornets ended the Eagles’ season with a frustrating 14-10 loss in a game that most everyone involved with the team thought they should have won.
Last year, Salisbury was on the team’s regular-season schedule in the week following a Central victory over Mount Airy. The Eagles were riding a two-game winning streak, but lost Martin Palacios in a game that ended as a 31-6 win for the Hornets. Several months after the game was played, the verdict was reversed because Salisbury had used an ineligible player, but that didn’t retroactively make Palacios healthy for the numerous games Central lost later in the season where he might have made a difference.
Even taking the loss of Palacios into account, the Eagles could have given a far better account of themselves last year. Surry Central committed six turnovers and allowed 278 yards rushing, and didn’t play well on special teams either, with poor coverage on a punt resulting in the Hornets’ final score of the night.
As it was at this time a year ago, Salisbury enters the game with a deceptive 1-4 record, having lost to four larger schools after opening with a 33-9 win over weak South Rowan. The Hornets have since lost to East Rowan (33-7), Carson (31-7), Lake Norman (35-14) and Ledford (41-7). Central will be a solid favorite to win, but will have to play better than it did last week against Mount Airy.
As it was a year ago, the Hornets are a run-oriented team that uses a variety of ball-carriers to move the ball. Nick Austin, Trell Baker, Cameron Horne and Marcus Corry have all seen significant playing time. Junior Griffin Myers is the quarterback, but rarely throws the ball in the Hornets’ option offense. On defense, the team’s biggest standout is 5’9” senior cornerback Byron Goodlett, a highly-regarded playmaker who also figures into Salisbury’s kick return game. A potential battle between he and Palacios in the Central passing game could be a key to this contest.
The Golden Eagles will be having Homecoming, so fans wanting to attend the game are advised to arrive early.
WEST STANLY AT NORTH SURRY
Although a nonconference game, this contest could be very important for the Hounds as the season moves along, since overall records are used to determine playoff positioning and seeding. North Surry can drop one of its non-conference losses for playoff purposes, but with a tough Western Piedmont Athletic Conference slate upcoming, a victory would be very helpful in securing a second straight trip to the postseason party come November.
The Colts, current 3-1 on the season and coming off a 29-28 victory over county rival North Stanly, have a slightly higher MaxPreps rating than the Hounds and are likely to be a slight favorite. However, this doesn’t factor into account that North played its first two games without its starting quarterback and have been missing other important players in the other games. The team finally seemed to round into form in last week’s 33-0 shutout of Atkins, but they will be taking a big step up in quality this Friday night.
Last year, the Hounds gutted out a 13-7 victory in Oakboro where the defenses dominated. The game was played in very poor weather conditions, including rain that was at times described as “coming down sideways,” and North’s ‘Air Raid’ offense was grounded. Quarterback Avery Smith completed just seven of 19 passes for 74 yards, but avoided throwing any interceptions — a good thing, since his teammates lost five fumbles and the Colts lost three.
West Stanly enters the game playing well. The Colts opened with a 30-0 rout of county rival South Stanly, but then lost 35-18 on the road to West Montgomery, ranked No. 2 in the NCPreps 1A poll (just ahead of Mount Airy). They followed that up with a 58-0 rout of rebuilding Albemarle and then edged past North Stanly by a point last week.
The Colts, like the Hounds, have a balanced offense that is capable of moving the ball through the air on on the ground. When these teams met a year ago, many expected a shootout before bad weather derailed both offenses. Senior Cameron Brown leads West’s spread attack, and has completed 60 percent of his passes (44-for-73) this season for 726 yards and only one interception. He’s also run the ball 37 times for 290 yards, both second on the team to fellow senior Malik Jackson (73-513, 7 TD). Brown has targeted nine different receivers this season, with his favorite targets being Justin Baucom (9-222), Joseph Izaguirre (8-138), Logan Wallberg (9-111) and Lucas Scott (4-118). He also frequently tosses to Jackson (5-61) coming out of the backfield.
As with Central, this is a Homecoming game and those interested in attending should come early in order to secure parking.
EAST SURRY AT ATKINS
The only local team on the road this week, East Surry will be prohibitive favorites over an Atkins team that hasn’t won a game since October 10, 2014, and which has been outscored 244-6 in dropping its first five games of this season. The Camels showed some signs of life in keeping the game respectable for much of the first half against North Surry last week, but were never able to do much against the Hounds’ defense.
This game served as East Surry’s Homecoming last year, but was delayed multiple times by bad weather and played in the middle of a week in early October where the Cardinals played three times in 12 days. East beat Atkins 61-6, but as the vast majority of the Cardinals’ key players on that team have since graduated, it serves no barometer for this season.
Although this is East’s first conference game, the schedule broke down in a manner where the Cardinals will play one more nonconference game, next Friday at South Stokes, before moving into the meat of the NW1A slate.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.