A Friday night that was slated to see all four local teams playing at home won’t come to pass after all.
Out of concern for potential bad weather from the approach of Hurricane Matthew to the Carolinas, athletic officials at Mount Airy and North Surry high schools moved their games to Thursday night in announcements made on Wednesday morning.
The Granite Bears, the state’s third-ranked 1A team, will instead host Winston-Salem Prep tonight at 7:30 p.m. The game was slated to be the Homecoming game, but a decision was made to move the Homecoming events to Mount Airy’s Oct. 28 home game with Walkertown. Tonight’s game will be the first time the Bears have taken the field for 20 days, as last week’s contest with North Stokes was forfeited to Mount Airy when the winless Vikings decided to cancel the remainder of their varsity football season.
The Greyhounds also decided not to take any chances with the weather, and they will open Western Piedmont Athletic Conference play tonight at 7:30 against West Stokes.
As of press time, neither East Surry nor Surry Central has any plans to move their games from Friday night. In fact, Central confirmed on its official Twitter account (@TheBigSCSports) that it would in fact host Carver in a key WPAC battle on Friday night at 7:30. The game could have a major impact on the race for this year’s conference title. The Golden Eagles are 5-1 and the Yellowjackets are 1-5, but Carver’s losses have all come against much larger schools, and the team won the conference title in 2013 and 2014 before finishing second to West Stokes last year.
East Surry’s scheduled game with Walkertown was also slated to go on as of press time. The Cardinals improved to 4-2 on the season when they defeated a much improved South Stokes team 33-21 last Friday night. Their game against the Wolfpack (3-4, 2-0 Northwest Conference) is a key to the Cardinals having a chance to defend their status as two-time defending NW1A champions, and also avenge a loss in last year’s state playoffs to Walkertown. The Wolfpack checked off its first two conference foes, Prep (21-16) and Atkins (49-18) in the last two weeks. East Surry defeated Atkins 41-6 on Sept. 23.
Mount Airy (6-0, 1-0 NW1A) will be heavily favored to beat the Phoenix (2-4, 1-1) tonight, but may come out a bit rusty, having not played since beating Surry Central on Sept. 16. The Bears had scheduled a bye week for the week after the Central game, in order to rest up for conference play. However, four days before their scheduled contest with North Stokes, that school announced that it did not have enough personnel to complete its varsity season. The Vikings cut their slate of games back to JV only, and forfeited all of their remaining varsity contests. As such, Mount Airy got a win, but no chance to play against live competition.
Winston-Salem Prep (2-4, 1-1) has played twice since the last time the Bears took the field, losing to Walkertown two weeks ago and then edging Bishop McGuinness 22-20 last week.
North Surry’s game is also important, especially in a conference where none of the teams has separated itself from the others by its early-season performance. The Greyhounds (2-4) haven’t met preseason expectations, but neither have they been able to field their whole projected starting lineup in any game to date. They are coming off a bye week following a 27-14 loss to West Stanly.
North Surry will try to get back on track in a game against the defending conference champions, who are also starting their league slate on Thursday. The Wildcats used their size advantage to grind out a 43-29 victory last year in a game that North Surry actually led for much of the first half, and are anticipated to use the same strategy this season. West Stokes (4-2) isn’t as athletic or experienced as it was a year ago, and the Wildcats are coming off a 32-7 loss to North Rowan, a team ranked in some 2A state top 10’s. However, the team is still a tough out, and played well in a 21-7 loss to Mount Airy earlier this season.