In a game that it’s unlikely anyone on either team would have chosen to schedule, perhaps Mount Airy’s Homecoming game with Northwest Conference rival North Stokes had the best possible outcome.
The Granite Bears scored on their first nine possessions of Friday night’s contest at Wallace Shelton Stadium and defeated the Vikings 59-0. But more importantly, no one on either team suffered a serious injury.
Mount Airy, ranked second in the state’s 1A ranks by all three statewide media outlets (the AP, NCPreps and MaxPreps), was a massive favorite to take care of business against North Stokes, a team that forfeited half of its 2016 varsity season after running out of players. The Vikings started over this season, but dressed only 12 players for their game against the Bears (7-0, 1-0 NW1A). A few players got banged up, but North Stokes should survive to play another week.
As for the Bears, they were focused on the task at hand, and didn’t let Homecoming distractions get in the way. Mount Airy led 49-0 at halftime, where senior cheerleader Fallon Cook was crowned as the 2017 Homecoming Queen. The team’s first two possessions of the second half ended in a 24-yard field goal by Robert Brown and a 25-yard run for a touchdown by Jaedon Hill. Several junior varsity players made appearances in the second half, as the Bears’ coaching staff took advantage of state rules allowing JV players to play a limited number of varsity quarters.
The game itself was never in doubt. The Vikings won the coin toss and took the ball first, but couldn’t get a first down. Stokes punted to Ian Holder, who returned it for 33 yards to the Vikings’ 19-yard line. Mount Airy’s first play from scrimmage was a touchdown pass to Donavon Greene with 9:40 left in the opening period.
The next two possessions followed the same pattern. A three-and-out for the North Stokes offense was followed by a possession for the Bears on the Vikings’ side of the field. Two runs by Johnathon Smith, of 20 and then 12 yards, produced the second Mount Airy touchdown at the 7:09 mark. The next possession began at the Stokes 46. Cole Shelton took a screen pass to the 19, and then quarterback Ian Holder ran for 16 and then 3 yards for a score. With 4:18 left in the first quarter, it was already 21-0.
North Stokes sophomore Cody Adams, who played much of the game with an ankle sprain, made an impressive return on the ensuing kickoff, but his team fumbled it away two plays later and the Bears’ Ryan Edwards got it. A few plays later, Smith dashed in from the 10 to make it 28-0.
Mount Airy got one more score before the end of the opening quarter. On third down of the next Stokes possession, Viking quarterback Finn Long rolled to his right and tried to find an open man, but had to rush his throw under a heavy rush, and it went right to senior linebacker Grey Tucker, who returned it 16 yards for a pick-six touchdown, the first of his career, with 65 seconds left in the first.
The Bears added two more scores in the second quarter. The next Mount Airy possession ended when Clay Taylor hauled in a short pass from Armando Estrada and took it 38 yards to the house. Midway through the period, Quentavious McLeod took the ball on a sweep and got around end for a 23-yard score and a 49-0 lead. Mercifully, North Stokes was able to hang onto the ball for the last six minutes of the first half.
The Vikings spent the entire second half battling Bear reserves with the clock running continuously. North Stokes’ defense held the Bears out of the end zone on the home team’s first possession, and Brown kicked a field goal. Hill’s fourth-quarter run completed the scoring.
The Bears travel to South Stokes for week two of the conference schedule next week, while North Stokes travels to play a Bishop McGuinness team that was bashed 48-0 by East Surry this week.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.