DANBURY — North Stokes may be the Northwest’s 1A underdogs, but don’t count them out just yet.
“You can look in the record books and see we haven’t won in 30 straight games but this is a team that wants to end that,” said Vikings head coach Mitch Reeves.
Returning for North is all-conference defensive end Dalton Sawyers.
“This year we’re also going to use him at fullback and tight end,” Reeves said. “He’s made tremendous gains in the weight room. He never skips a rep and goes as hard as he possibly can. He’s very lean; he’s a ball of muscle that will light you up.”
At quarterback the coach is looking to Tyler Bowman, who played the position on JV, Jackson Moorefield, and Blake Williams.
Reeves said Bowman understands the intricacies of the sport and performed well last season.
Williams stands out in speed and arm strength and Moorefield is an accurate passer.
“Jackson (Moorefield) played quarterback his JV years, but didn’t play football last year. He’s been in the weight room and has been excelling on the basketball court. He’s just a good all-around athlete and he’s strong right now,” Reeves said.
The coach is looking to Andrew Lankford, Tevin Carter, and Williams as half backs.
“Those are my top three. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with Austyn Garcia. He missed the last half of the year with a concussion so I’m a little tentative to put him on varsity right away.”
Although the program has struggled over the years Reeves said they have more athletes coming out this year which is positive.
“I’m excited in general about the season. We have a lot of running backs. We’re thin on the line, but we’ve got Austin Tucker, and he’s going to be a stud for us. He’s been working hard. He’s got aspirations to play at the next level, and that doesn’t happen a lot around here so we’re looking at him to be a leader this year,” Reeves said.
The coach is also relying on his 16 seniors.
“Everybody seems to have their head on straight, and they’re a little more focused on what they’re doing. It’s not so much of a group activity as it is a team.”
This season Reeves is banking on proven athletes performing well in other sports.
Basketball standouts, Moorefield and Logan Stevens bring a strong work ethic and Paden Lungren clawed his way to the state championships in wrestling last year as a freshman.
“Playing other sports makes you a well-rounded athlete,” Reeves said. “I’m for kids being diverse. It’s good for them to challenge themselves and play something that isn’t their number-one sport.”
Also favorable for the Vikings are a few schedule changes.
“I think we’re playing teams we match up with a little better,” Reeves said. “We got rid of Bassett and got Patrick County back. That’s a great rivalry. East Wilkes will be a good challenge for us. Generally they’re a little more athletic school than we are, but they have a nice football program.”
North is hungry for a win and they expect to get it this season.
“It’s what they’ve been working for, and I don’t know how they’re going to react when they get it. I don’t know how I’m going to react. We might not come to school on Monday,” Reeves joked.
In all seriousness, he said his team is comparable with all the others at this point with a 0-0 record.
“These kids want to be successful. They want to start a new tradition. I can say that the kids on this team want to be out here, and they’re working hard.”
For the fans who’ve supported North Stokes over the last few years, Reeves is appreciative.
“Whenever we get that win it’s going to be just as much for them as it is for the kids because they’ve stuck by us win or lose. I know they want success as much as we do,” he said.