Greyhound fans were greeted with photos of North Surry’s 25 football seniors as they filed into Charles Atkins Stadium for Friday’s Homecoming contest against Walkertown.
The team put on the kind of performance that one would expect from such an experienced team, pummeling the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference newcomers from pillar to post in a 51-6 rout.
North Surry (6-1, 2-0 WPAC) scored on all but one of its first-half possessions in building a 37-0 halftime lead, then scored the first time it had the ball in the second half to ensure a running clock for the rest of the night. The Hounds were strong in all areas of the game, and even when Walkertown managed a defensive stop in the first half, the North Surry defense rose up and earned a safety.
“That is two weeks in a row that we have come out and played good football,” said North Surry head coach Danny Lyons. “Homecoming is a special night for a lot of different reasons, but there is a football game going on, and boy, we played well tonight. I’m proud of our guys and proud of our leadership.”
At halftime, the school held its annual Homecoming festivities, where senior Katherine Parsons, the top player on North Surry’s tennis team, was named as the school’s 2017 Homecoming Queen. Volleyball standout Dixie Fulk was chosen as the Maid of Honor.
The Hounds were operating with quiet efficiency from the start. Darius Duncan returned the opening kickoff to the Hounds 36-yard line, and three plays had the ball on the Walkertown side of the field. On a first-and-15 play from the Wolfpack’s 46-yard line, Ryan Smith rumbled for 30 yards. He got the call for six more on the next play, and then Sammy McMillian dashed into the end zone with less than two minutes gone off the clock.
A quick three-and-out by the North defense put the offense right back in business at its own 49. This time, quarterback Chase Swartz took to the air, hitting Duncan for a 23-yard gain and then Chandler Hawks for 15 more. Two runs by Smith made it third-and-1 from the 5, so they gave him the call again and he scored with 6:15 still left in the opening quarter.
Walkertown earned a first down on its next series, but then was forced to punt. The Wolfpack defense held this time, but that just let the Hounds use another weapon at their disposal — kicking specialist Ethan Evans. Evans delivered a perfect 38-yard punt that was downed on the Walkertown 2-yard line with four seconds left in the first quarter.
The last play of the opening 12 minutes resulted in a North Surry safety and a 16-0 lead.
This forced the Wolfpack to kick off to the Hounds, and McMillian fielded the kick and returned it to the Walkertown 45. On second down, Swartz found Carson Todd for a 23-yard gain down to the 20. After the senior hauled in another pass for seven more, North went back to the ground attack. Walkertown’s defense held for a couple of plays before Smith dashed in from the 5 with 9:04 left in the first half.
After another three-and-out, the Hounds scored quickly, on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Swartz to Nick Badgett to cap off a 64-yard scoring march and make it 30-0.
The Wolfpack finally generated some offense on its next series, advancing from its 20 to midfield. But North Surry’s defense wasn’t putting up with that. The line put some heat on the Walkertown quarterback, and Kaleb Hunter did the rest, picking off a pass and running with a convoy of teammates all the way to the Wolfpack’s 30-yard line. Walkertown was flagged for a personal foul on top of that, and the offense started at the 15-yard line. Two runs by McMillian took care of the required yardage, and North Surry led 37-0 with 4:20 left in the second quarter. The score remained at that point until intermission.
Lyons let his first-team offense play one more series to begin the second half. After another defensive stop, North Surry started in excellent field position once again, and Swartz tossed a 13-yard strike to Duncan for a touchdown with 8:38 left in the third quarter. With North Surry in possession of a 44-0 lead, the remainder of the game was played with a running clock.
Swartz, a sophomore leading this senior-dominated team, had the best game of his career, completing 11 of 12 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns.
“We love his maturity,” said Lyons. “For a sophomore, he is a really mature kid. He’s throwing the ball well and our offensive line in front of him has gotten better every week.”
McMillian got in for one more play later on, and ran 26 yards for a touchdown with 40 seconds to play in the third quarter. He ended his night with 72 yards on nine carries, and Smith earned 59 yards on 11 totes. Each of the Greyhound running backs found the end zone twice.
With the North Surry reserves in the game, Walkertown was finally able to move down the field and score with 8:38 remaining, avoiding the shutout. However, the Greyhounds prevented any more Wolfpack scoring by running out the clock when they got the ball back.
“Walkertown has played six good teams coming into tonight. I thought this week would be tougher than last week,” Lyons said. “I think our kids understand that sometimes our biggest opponent is us not getting complacent, and focusing on getting better every single day. You can see that in our practices, and you can see the results on the field.”
The goal for North all season has been to bring a conference title in football back to Toast for the first time in 27 years. The team’s next stepping-stone is the defending WPAC champs from Surry Central, who beat Atkins 31-26 on Friday night. The Hounds will host the Golden Eagles next Friday night.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.