Cards and Hounds set to battle

By Jackson Fuller -

Two weeks of high school football have come and gone, and only North Surry and East Surry were able to survive undefeated among local schools.

However, only one team will remain unscathed after Friday night when the Greyhounds and Cardinals rekindle their rivalry at North Surry high school.

“I’m expecting over 2,000 people to be here on Friday night,” North Surry coach Danny Lyons said. “Our team is excited about the opportunity to play against a great team.”

North Surry is flying high in its new “air raid” offense in 2015. Led by quarterback Avery Smith, the Greyhounds are averaging 40.5 points per game and racking up some impressive passing numbers.

Smith leads all quarterbacks in Surry County with 629 passing yards and seven touchdowns. The junior tossed five scores in North Surry’s 55-19 win over Elkin last week.

One of the reasons Smith is off to such a hot start is North Surry’s offensive line, and Coach Lyons believes the battle in the trenches could become the deciding factor against the Cardinals.

“Our offensive line has improved already in just the first two games,” Lyons said. “And on Friday, we are going to have to keep Avery upright. We are going to be tested tomorrow.”

Smith’s favorite target has been senior receiver Colton Accord, and the two have hooked up for 14 completions, 352 yards and three touchdowns.

Despite those gaudy numbers, North Surry also has had success running the football to start the season. Senior tailback Andrew Smith is averaging 119.5 yards per game to go with three touchdowns.

The offense has been dominant, but the Greyhounds’ defense is a big reason they come into this game without a loss.

North Surry has only yielded seven second-half points in its first two games. The defense’s continued stops after halftime allow the offense ample opportunities to score and take control of the game in the later stages.

Jacob McHone leads the defense with 19 tackles while Casey Hull follows him with 16. The Hounds have also done a nice job forcing turnovers, with four takeaways on the season.

“We’ve given up a ton of yards on defense, but when the other team gets close and our backs are against the wall, we’ve played our best, and I’m just fine with that.” Lyons said.

This bend-but-don’t-break strategy has worked so far, but Lyons knows his defense is in for a significant challenge against the Cardinals.

The coach believes East Surry is so dangerous because of how efficient its offense is, and the Greyhounds are acting as if they must prepare for two separate offensive playbooks.

Although the East Surry offense isn’t as wide open as the Greyhounds’ attack, the Cardinals have implemented a game plan based on balance in their first two games.

East Surry has 338 yards through the air and 349 on the ground in its first two victories, and at the center of its dynamic scheme is senior quarterback Tyler Smith.

Smith is excelling as both a passer and a runner this season, and his prowess in the read-option is opening up running holes for Joey Ray.

The sophomore running back leads the Cardinals with 148 yards, but it has been the quarterback punching the ball into the end zone as Smith has a team-high four rushing touchdowns.

Like North Surry’s quarterback, Smith has his own favorite target in senior receiver Blake Marion. Smith and Marion are connecting to the tune of 231 yards and four of East Surry’s five touchdown passes.

The Cardinal defense is in for its biggest challenge of the young season against the Greyhounds. If East Surry is going to have success stopping its opponents on Friday, Staymon Johnson and Shawn Creed will need to continue their solid play. The two have a combined 49 tackles on the year.

Surry Central is the one local team still looking for its first victory, but the task won’t get easier for head coach Monty Southern’s team.

Next up on the schedule for Surry Central is an away contest against Wilkes Central, and the Golden Eagles’ opponents are scoring 41 points per game in their first two victories over North Iredell and West Iredell.

“It’s been a tough two weeks for us,” Southern said. “We haven’t played very well, so the focus in practice has been on us, not so much on our opponent.”

One of the keys for Surry Central will be to avoid falling into a quick hole. In the Golden Eagles first two losses, they’ve fallen behind on the opening kickoff.

The turnover battle will also play a role, as Surry Central coughed up the football four times in its 48-13 defeat to East Wilkes last Friday.

Wilkes Central went from a team that loved to throw the ball last year to a squad that likes to pound the rock, Southern said. Surry Central’s coach expects Wilkes to rely heavily on its running back, Andrew Bynum.

Southern did note that he has been impressed with his team’s play at times, but the Golden Eagles need to be a little more consistent in all phases if they are going to improve this week.

One of the bright spots for Surry Central has been the play of halfback Eric Ramirez. The junior running back has 33 carries for 187 yards and two touchdowns.

“It’s not a secret that everything we do starts with (Eric),” Southern said. “We hope to establish him early.”

Chase Boone supports Ramirez in the backfield and has 91 yards on 15 carries this season. The two are providing most of the Golden Eagles’ offense as Surry Central struggles with the passing game to start the year.

By Jackson Fuller

Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16

Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16

comments powered by Disqus