After three straight years of winning, North Surry’s football team took a step back in a 2013 season marked by injuries and inconsistent play.
Coach Danny Lyons is confident the Greyhounds can restore order this year.
North kicks off the season tonight when it travels to Ashe County for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. The Hounds are coming off a 4-7 campaign after going 23-12 over the previous three seasons.
“Last season kind of left a sour taste in our mouth,” Lyons said. “We probably went through as much adversity as any team can go through in a single year. ..We want to get back on the winning side, and get back in the playoffs.
Much of the Hounds’ success begins with star tailback/linebacker Dakota Goss, a high-character leader and an NCPreps.com preseason 2A all-state selection. Goss stepped in last year after North lost leading tailback Blaze Acord to an injury and rushed for 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Lyons said Goss, who also broke the school record with 121 tackles in 2013, is one of the hardest workers in the program.
“He’s got a lot to live up to,” Lyons said regarding the preseason NCPreps.com recognition. “He’s kind of embraced that. He said, ‘Now I’ve got to play that way.’ If he plays that way in the backfield I like our chances to be a little bit better offensively too.”
At quarterback, Hunter Snow started the last seven games for North a year ago. Lyons said he’s a running threat and has worked to improve his throwing mechanics in the offseason. Rising senior Nolan Stanley started throwing the football for the first time in January, and has gotten a lot of reps in the spring and summer.
The third QB in the mix is Avery Smith — the best sophomore athlete on the team according to Lyons, who said “Smith has the strongest arm of any kid I’ve coached in nine years. He’s a cross between Tanner Hiatt and Alex Ratcliff.”
Senior left guard Nick Wilson is the lone returning starter on the offensive line. “He’s athletic at 240 pounds and will be the anchor of the line,” Lyons said.
Senior offensive tackle Jordan Dehart returns from an injury and will likely be a two-way player. Lyons also projects Brayton Fields, wrestling standout Cody Slate, Ben Nichols, Ty Harold, Nick Huff, Blaine Watts, Andrew Cave and John Stamper to contribute on the line. Senior fullback Bryan Martin returns after missing last season.
“He was probably our best JV player two years ago,” Lyons said. “He’s a hammer at lead blocker. He can run a little bit and he can catch.”
Junior Colton Acord comes in as the team’s slot receiver.
“He’s a taller, more athletic version of Blaze,” Lyons said. “We are looking for more consistency from him.”
Senior split end Tanner Hodgin is an underneath, possession-type receiver who is also a solid blocker. Other guys who could factor into the mix are Stanley, Luke Baldwin and Eli Combs.
On defense, Goss and Snow are tackling machines at linebacker for the Hounds. Goss has 240 career tackles and 30 career sacks, and the two guys combined for more than 200 tackles last season.
“We should be a very physical defense,” Lyons said. “It reminds me of Mitch Martin’s first team as far as the makeup, except this team has a true tailback. I like the way that team played. We had a good team that year, a very physical team.”
Junior heavy hitter Jacob McHone started with the Greyhounds, went to West Stokes, and is now back at North. Senior Bryan Martin also will contribute. Acord and junior Chase Summers will see time at outside linebacker as well.
Harold, a senior returning all-conference player on the defensive line, had great games against West Stokes and Carver according to Lyons. He is joined by Huff, a sophomore who Lyons said was the team’s “nastiest lineman.”
Dehart, a 6-foot-3, 240 pound lineman who runs a 4.8-40 is “the most physically imposing kid we’ve had here in a while.” He squats 500 pounds and bench presses 360 pounds. Dehart did not play a down last year because of an injury. Slate and Wilson also will play on the defensive line.
“We had a lot of injuries last year. A lot of those times we had six, seven or eight starters out in a game,” Lyons said. “If we stay healthy, we can be pretty good. If we don’t, it’s ‘next man up’ and we’ll fight like heck.”
The secondary is the biggest question mark for the Hounds. Senior Corbin Bullins moves over from outside linebacker to cornerback. At 185 pounds, the four-year varsity player is also the team’s backup tailback. Stanley will play free safety, while Hodgin, Acord, Luke Mauldin and Markel Woodbury also should see time in the secondary.
North was outscored by 65 points in the fourth quarter last season. Lyons said he accepts much of the blame for the fourth-quarter results.
“We finished 4-7, lost three games by five points, and another by seven points,” he said. “Our opponents last year were 92-38, with an average of nine wins. We are playing those same teams this year. It’s going to be about finishing. If we do that, we’ll be back in the playoffs.”
In the Western Piedmont Conference, everyone was looking up to Carver last season. The Yellow Jackets went undefeated in league play, although North Surry and West Stokes were competitive against Carver in the head-to-head matchups.
“We have a mutual respect for (West Stokes). I think they have a mutual respect for us. It’s probably the most physical football game we’ll play all year. We were able to steal one last year,” Lyons said. “Them and Carver are still the frontrunners in that conference. They are the two most talented teams with the most athletes, the most players. We are going to have to battle to compete in this league.”
Lyons said you can’t overlook Forbush, coached by former Mount Airy defensive coordinator Chris Johnson, or an athletic South Stokes team. He also said Surry Central, coached by Monty Southern, features “one of the top five football players in Surry County” in Alex Martin.
North has a rugged nonconference schedule that includes defending state 2A champion High Point Andrews. The Red Raiders visit Charles Atkins Stadium on Sept. 26. The Greyhounds take on the top teams in the Northwest and Mountain Valley conferences as well — beginning with annual rivalry games against always tough Mount Airy and East Surry. The Hounds will also face Ashe County and North Wilkes, two teams that finished in a three-way tie with Starmount for the Mountain Valley Conference title in 2013.
The five nonconference opponents had a combined record of 51-16 last season.
“There are no gimmes on our schedule,” Lyons said. “That’s why we talk about consistency. Eight to 10 plays are going to decide every football game. The problem is you don’t know when those are going to happen. That was our Achilles’ heel (last season). The margin of error for us is very small.”
If the Hounds can stay healthy and keep the mistakes to a minimum, Lyons believes North can return to its winning ways.
“I’m very exicited about this season,” he said. “I feel like we can field a really competitive team. We’ll see what happens.”
North Surry 2014 varsity football roster
# Name Class Position
1 Jacob McHone JR FB/LB
2 Luke Mauldin JR WR/DB
4 Tanner Hodgin SR WR/DB
6 Avery Smith SO QB/DB
7 Markel Woodbury JR WR/DB
8 Hector Zuvieta SR K
9 Bryan Martin SR FB/LB
10 Colton Acord JR WR/DB
11 Nolan Stanley SR QB/DB
12 Casey Hull SO WR/LB
13 Hunter Snow SR QB/LB
14 Andrew Smith SO RB/DB
15 Corbin Bullins SR RB/DB
18 Tyler Cook JR WR/DB
20 Kandon Wilson SR TE/LB
21 Austin Mundy SR TE/LB
25 Eli Combs JR WR/DB
27 Isaiah Griffin JR RB/DB
33 John Smith JR TE/LB
35 Dakota Goss SR RB/LB
47 Chase Summers JR RB/DB
49 Reggie Lyman SR TE/LB
50 Corbin Bedsaul SR OL/DL
51 Cody Slate SR OL/DL
52 Nick Huff SO OL/DL
53 Corbin Soots SR OL/DL
54 John Stamper JR OL/DL
55 Jordan Dehart SR OL/DL
56 Blaine Watts JR OL/DL
57 John Hensley SR OL/LB
59 Tyrel Duncan JR OL/DL
61 Ty Harold SR OL/DL
64 Brayton Fields JR OL/DL
65 Andrew Cave JR OL/DL
71 Tyler Shelton SR OL/DL
72 Nick Wilson SR OL/DL
75 Ben Nichols SR OL/DL
North Surry 2014 varsity schedule
Aug. 22 at Ashe County
Aug. 29 Elkin
Sept. 5 at East Surry
Sept. 12 Mount Airy
Sept. 19 at North Wilkes
Sept. 26 High Point Andrews
Oct. 3 Open
Oct. 10 West Stokes
Oct. 17 at Carver
Oct. 24 at Surry Central
Oct. 31 South Stokes
Nov. 7 at Forbush