DOBSON — Monty Southern witnessed the long Surry Central losing streak to Mount Airy firsthand.
The head coach has been a part of the Golden Eagle football program for the past 20 years, and he was on hand to see each of the 16 losses from 1999-2014.
Southern dealt with heartbreaks and blowouts over that time, but he always knew that when the Eagles finally did break the streak, it would be a monumental win for his school.
That victory finally came on Friday night when Surry Central defeated Mount Airy 20-0 in front of a packed home crowd. It was Southern’s first win over Mount Airy as a head coach, and his jubilation stems from the respect he has for the Granite Bear coach Kelly Holder and his program.
“It was definitely frustrating,” Southern said. “Kelly and I are friends, and I look up to Kelly. I know him and I know how good of a program that is over there, and I think that’s why it was so rewarding to finally get this win. As a head coach, I would consider this my best win.”
Southern admitted that this victory probably came as a shock to most people not in the Eagles’ locker room. Surry Central came into the game with a 1-3 record and a recent run of big losses to the Bears.
In the previous three meetings, Mount Airy had outscored Surry Central 113-14.
“There were years where we felt good about our chances and they just (pulled) it out,” Southern said. “They made plays in the end because that’s the type of team they have, but recently they’ve really been beating us, and it was tough to deal with.”
Central was able to remain confident about its chances because of a win the previous week against Elkin. After starting the season 0-3, the Golden Eagles needed that 20-7 game against the Elks to feel good about themselves, and they were confident heading into their matchup with the Bears.
In the week leading up to the game, Southern said he didn’t talk much about the history of this rivalry. He didn’t want past defeats to cast any doubt in the current players’ minds.
However, he couldn’t help but mention that Surry Central had an opportunity to do something special in his speech right before kickoff, and when the final whistle blew he stressed to his players how important this win was.
“First off, I’m really happy for our seniors,” Southern said. “But as coaches we feel like every kid now should have a sense of confidence and belief. We are going to play Mount Airy every year, and the kids know they can beat a top program.”
The Golden Eagles now have four wins over Mount Airy in 47 tries in the annual series.
Coach Holder has one of those wins from his time as the Surry Central coach, but another person close to Southern is responsible for the other two victories: His father-in-law, Phil Bowers.
Southern hopes that he can catch Bowers and register three wins over Mount Airy before he hangs up the whistle.
“In my mind, I have to outdo my father-in-law,” he said.
The Surry Central coach has high hopes for his current team and for the future, but his goals still stem way beyond this non-conference rivalry.
The shutout victory was a first step, and Southern hopes to take the next step this week against Salisbury.
“This was a great win over Mount Airy, but if we don’t continue to play as well as we did on Friday it will be all for naught,” Southern said. “I don’t want our season to be defined by this win.”
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16