SHELBY — North Surry football is looking up, having made it to the 2AA state playoffs in the past two seasons.
However, next year, the Greyhounds hope to make it back and post a better overall record, so they won’t have to face a powerhouse on the road in the first round.
North got the worst possible draw for its opening-round contest on Friday night, earning a date at three-time defending 2AA state champion Shelby High School, undefeated and ranked 10th in the state by MaxPreps.com among all teams, regardless of classification. The Golden Lions (12-0) hold a higher rating than several teams ranked in statewide 4A polls, and have been the top-ranked 2A team in every poll all season.
Hounds coach Danny Lyons isn’t arguing the point.
“They are the best team I have ever coached against,” the North Surry coach said after his team’s 55-7 opening-round loss. “We knew it would be a tall task to compete coming in. We competed the best we could; we didn’t quit for four quarters, and I’m very proud of that.”
The Hounds (5-7) tried to set an early tone against Shelby, which came in riding a 16-game winning streak dating back to last year and hasn’t trailed in any game this season. After the Golden Lions chose to receive the opening kickoff, North Surry surprised them with an onside kick. The Hounds’ Izzy Garcia hit what Lyons described as a “perfect kick,” and North recovered the ball and opened the game on offense.
Quarterback Avery Smith hit back-to-back passes to Reid Stanley for a first down, and then a completion to Chase Chandler gave the Hounds a first-and-10 at the Shelby 12-yard line.
However, things turned sour from there. A miscommunication on a passing route led to an interception by the Lions, which was taken the other way into the North Surry red zone. Shelby scored to take a 7-0 lead and maintained its status of never trailing in a game this season.
The Hounds relied heavily on the passing game, due to the presence of Shelby linebacker Dax Hollifield, a 6’2” 225-pound junior who is being recruited by several schools from “power five” conferences.
“They have more size and speed than we’ve ever competed against,” said Lyons. “44 (Hollifield) was all over the place.”
Smith completed 14 of 28 passes for 125 yards, and on the last pass of his North Surry career, threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Darius Duncan to avert the shutout.
“It was nice that the last pass he threw went for a touchdown,” said Lyons. “I was proud of our offensive line tonight, too. Shelby has had 61 sacks this season and we only allowed two, even though we were throwing a lot.”
In their final games for the Hounds, Casey Hull had nine tackles and Jarrett DeHart had six.
“We need to start the season stronger next year,” said Lyons. “It’s tough when you make it to the playoffs and have to start against one of the best teams on the road.”