It wasn’t nearly the same stakes as last October, but North Surry and West Stokes did battle on the gridiron once again Tuesday night.
The reigning Western Piedmont Athletic Conference champion Greyhounds and the runner-up Wildcats were two of eight teams that took part in North Surry’s annual 7-on-7 scrimmage, and at the end of the day, the two teams squared off for the first time since the end of last season, when the Hounds came from behind to win their first league title in 17 years, 17-7.
This time around, the Wildcats held on, taking the third-place match of the 7-on-7 with a 15-14 victory. North Surry actually scored on the final play of the scrimmage and then made a two-point conversion, but were still one point short.
You never want to lose in any game, but Hound head coach Danny Lyons liked what he saw out of his team, which scrimmaged four times and won two of the four decisively, while dropping the other two by a combined four points.
“We started out a little slow,” said Lyons, whose team has to replace 21 seniors from last year’s record-setting team that won 10 games and swept its WPAC foes. “I liked how we competed the last three games. We have a lot of good pieces, and we’re just trying to figure things out.”
Lyons’ rebuilding efforts are helped by the fact that North Surry also won last year’s WPAC junior varsity title, going 8-2, and so he’s not exactly working with a bare cupboard.
The eight teams were divided into two pools of four teams each, and each team scrimmaged the other three in its pool for 20 minutes. The Hounds were sluggish in their first pool scrimmage and lost 17-13 to North Iredell. However, they came alive in their final two rounds of pool play and routed Forbush and South Stokes by identical 23-0 scores. North Surry and North Iredell tied for first place in the pool at 2-1, but the Raiders advanced to the championship game because they beat the Hounds head-to-head.
The second-place teams in each pool met in a third-place game, and so North Surry faced West Stokes for the first time in eight months. The Wildcats had beaten East Surry (15-3), tied R.J. Reynolds (6-6) and downed Elkin 15-12 to finish tied for first in the other pool, but Reynolds advanced to the first-place game on the basis of having scored more points.
In the third-place game, West took an early 9-0 lead and then held off the Hounds’ late comeback.
“We got down 9-0 and then it was back and forth,” said Lyons. “We scored and got a two on the last play to make it 15-14 at the end.”
South Stokes and East Surry ended up tied for fifth place overall. The teams met up at the end of pool play after each placed third in their pool. The Sauras threatened to score on a couple of different plays. With less than three minutes left in the game, a pass from Avery Wood to freshman DJ Goolsby put Stokes inside the East Surry 5-yard line, but the Cardinals’ defense stiffened and stopped South on four straight plays to secure a 0-0 tie.
R.J. Reynolds, the only 4A team in the field, beat North Iredell in the championship game to win the scrimmage for a second consecutive year.
“I hope all of the teams got something out of the 7-on-7,” said Lyons, whose team had played Ashe County in a 7-on-7 last week. “As far as my team, we took a step forward from last week. Whatever we do, we just have to come out ready to play.”
The Hounds will begin defense of their WPAC title on Aug. 17 at North Forsyth.
Robert Money Jr. of The Stokes News also contributed to this report.