WINSTON-SALEM — What a difference a year makes.
Last fall, East Surry hosted Winston-Salem Prep without the services of star running back Joey Ray, and the Cardinals had to scramble with a makeshift lineup and some excellent coaching moves in order to hold off the Phoenix 17-12. The win helped springboard the team to a share of an unlikely Northwest 1A Conference title.
East Surry is still in the hunt for another title this season, but the Cardinals had little trouble handling Winston-Salem Prep when the teams met Friday night in Atkins High School’s football stadium. East burned up the Phoenix early and often, and it never rose from the ashes in what became a 58-20 Cardinal victory.
The final score wasn’t indicative of the dominance displayed by East Surry (5-3, 2-0 Northwest 1A Conference). The Cardinals scored five touchdowns in the first quarter alone, led 51-6 at halftime, and made it 58-6 before Prep scored twice in garbage time with a continuous clock running for the entire second half.
The Cardinals’ lone losses this season have come at the hands of East Wilkes, an unbeaten team ranked as high as third in the state in one 1A poll; North Surry, a 2A team with an 8-1 record; and by one point in the last minute on the road against Jamestown Ragsdale, a quality 4A team. The Cardinals are knocking on the door of the 1A top 10 in their own right, coming into Friday’s game as the state’s 12th-ranked team according to MaxPreps.
They would get no argument from the Phoenix about that. Winston-Salem Prep (1-6, 0-2 NW1A), whose only win this season came against Raleigh Word of God last month, generated little offense outside of one first-quarter score until the Cardinals cleared the bench.
This coming Friday night brings another matchup in which East Surry will be massively favored to win. The Cardinals stay on the road, taking a trip to Danbury to play winless North Stokes (0-8, 0-2). The Vikings, who are in a rebuilding mode after having to cancel half of last season due to a lack of healthy players, have fought hard this season but not been competitive in most of their games.