Less than 13 miles separate the Mount Airy Granite Bears (11-1) and East Surry Cardinals (9-3), but there is much ground to cover between the two. The Bears, led by Kelly Holder, host the Cardinals in the second round of the 1A State playoffs on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Looking back into the last meeting between the two, one might say the 21-10 show at Wallace Shelton Stadium was a fight, on both sides of the field. East Surry’s power offense seemed to be what raised the Cardinals’ to a share of their third straight Northwest 1A Conference title on Friday, Nov. 4. Despite any previous predictions, Mount Airy suffered its first loss of the season, spoiling a once unblemished 10-0 record.
Mount Airy was the first to score in the game, and put up a quick three, but did not produce anything else until the third quarter, where the Bears recorded their lone touchdown. Mount Airy would not score again the rest of the game. As for East Surry, their win was secured by touchdowns in every quarter, except for the first.
Both head coaches stressed that nothing had been any different in practice, and that they need to play the way they know how.
“There have been no changes. We are going to continue to do the same things we’ve been doing all year,” said Holder.
Gabriel King, who sports the navy and white jersey no. 78, tallied nine solo tackles, and even collected a tackle for loss, in the Nov. 4 loss for Mount Airy. Senior Clayton Cogdill recorded seven solo tackles, with his total resting at 10. Another defensive star for the Granite Bears was that of defensive end, Ryan Edwards. Edwards had his share of destruction on the Cardinals’ offense, with his recorded total of 12 tackles.
However, the Bears as a team didn’t make enough tackles to earn a win.
“We didn’t make stops when we needed to. We just need to make sure we fix that,” said Holder.
For the Mount Airy offense, key performers include Jackson Smith, Ian Holder and Jeremiah Rosser. Quarterback Jackson Smith had a crucial 63-yard run for Granite Bears in the opening quarter and his performance included a 48% completion percentage. Ian Holder registered 8.3 yards per reception, along with the Mount Airy’s lone touchdown.
“Mount Airy has a team full of talent and speed. I expect it to be emotional and a very aggressive game,” said Diamont.
For the Cardinals, Trevor Hauser had a slightly higher completion percentage than his opposition, at 50%. Hauser displayed an outstanding performance at the quarterback position and defensively recorded seven solo tackles. Mitchell Edwards for the Cardinals logged six carries at 5.3 yards per carry, and 32 rushing yards, while also marking two tackles for loss. Running back Joey Ray notched 39 carries, 169 rushing yards, and was responsible for all of his team’s three touchdowns. Stephen Creech for the Cardinals recorded two solo tackles and a sack in his team’s victory.
The team that executes more creatively and efficiently, will be the team to come out on top. Penetration up front and early on will also be a difference-maker in Friday’s game. Both programs have had very successful runs this season, and they both expect to continue to do so—but only one will continue its season beyond this week.
“We hope to see a spirited rivalry game this Friday. We are in the second round of the playoffs and we do not have a far distance to travel. Any time you’re playing football after Thanksgiving is exciting,” said Diamont.