Graduation is right around the corner for the four local high schools, and the impending ceremonies will say goodbye to some special athletes in Surry County.
Here is a recap of some of sports highlights from the 2015 fall season, with articles coming later this week on the winter and spring sessions.
The East Surry football team entered August as the presumed best team in the area, and the Cardinals lived up to their high expectations with a stellar 13-1 season. Coach David Diamont’s squad fell in the third round of the 1A playoffs against conference rival Walkertown. The Cardinals swept the awards in the Northwest Conference, with Tyler Smith, Staymon Johnson and Blake Marion each earning individual honors.
The other three local football teams experienced some growing pains with young teams, but Mount Airy, North Surry and Surry Central each had their moments of brilliance in 2015.
The Granite Bears traveled all the way to Whiteville in the first round of the playoffs and pulled off the upset with a 10-6 victory. Mount Airy (8-5) lost to the eventual Western Regional Champions, Mitchell, in the next round.
North Surry went 7-5 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2012. The Greyhounds were led by quarterback Avery Smith, the WPAC offensive player of the year.
Surry Central couldn’t reach the playoffs in 2015 with a 4-7 record, but the Golden Eagles did make history with their first win over Mount Airy since 1998.
Mount Airy’s girls’ tennis team finished its season with a loss to rival Bishop McGuinness in the state 1A semifinals for the second consecutive year. It also marked the fifth straight season that the Lady Bears reached the regional final.
East Surry’s tennis team gave Bishop McGuinness and Mount Airy a tough time in the Northwest Conference, finishing just one match behind the second-place Lady Bears.
North Surry took home the player of the year award again in girls’ tennis.
Taylor Tickle followed in the footsteps of Sarah Glasco and Jane Blackburn and won the WPAC Tournament over Forbush’s Alisha Baity.
However, Surry Central was the cream of the crop in the local 2A conference, going 10-0 in the WPAC. After earning the regular season conference championship, the Lady Eagles advanced all the way to the third round before losing to eventual state champion Lake Norman Charter.
It was an exceptional volleyball season in Surry County as all four schools finished in the top three of their respective conference standings.
Mount Airy steamrolled through the Northwest Conference with a 21-6, 11-1 record and a league title after starting the season on a 12-match win streak. The Lady Bears advanced to the third round of the playoffs and Sarah Lankford earned co-conference player of the year.
East Surry wasn’t as dominant as in years past, but the Lady Cardinals followed 2014’s Western Regional title with an 18-11 season, a NWC Tournament title, and a trip to the third round before giving way to Rosman.
In the WPAC, things stayed status quo, as North Surry went undefeated in the league for the third consecutive season. The Lady Hounds were on a 10-match win streak when they fell to Hendersonville in the third round.
Surry Central finished the 2015 campaign at 13-13, the exact same record as the year before. The Eagles finished in third place in the WPAC and nearly pulled off an upset of West Davidson in the first round.
Surry Central and Mount Airy each had historic boys’ soccer seasons in the fall. The Bears tied powerhouse Bishop McGuinness for the Northwest Conference title and were one win away from playing for the state championship before a tough loss to the Community School of Davidson in the Western Regional final. Jeremy Chappell was the league’s player of the year and an all-state selection.
The Eagles also finished tied for a conference championship, matching Forbush at the top of the standings. Surry Central looked destined for an extended run in the 2A playoffs, but an unbelievable performance by the Lincolnton goalkeeper ended the Eagles’ season with a first-round defeat in a penalty kick shootout. Daniel McBride made 17 saves for Lincolnton, and Eagles coach Blake Roth called him the best high school keeper he’s ever seen.
Girls’ golf is a fairly new sport for county schools, yet East Surry’s Madison Moore quickly made the small school a household name in the 1A regional and state tournaments.
Mount Airy held the region’s torch in girls’ golf this season with a Northwest Conference championship. Haley Hagwood, Bailey Flippen and Alyssa Cox powered the Lady Bears throughout the year, and all three will return to the fold next season.
Surry Central’s Autumn Senter and Ellie Kid also had terrific years and joined Hagwood and Cox at the 1A/2A state championship tournament. Senter will continue her career next year at Belmont Abbey.
Three local cross-country runners advanced all the way to Kernersville for the state championship meet in 2015. Mount Airy’s Jo Snow finished in 13th place at the girls’ 1A race one weekend after earning a silver medal at the Midwest Regional. Snow also earned the honor of Northwest Conference girls’ Runner of the Year.
Surry Central’s Daniel Alvarez-Orlachia and North Surry’s Matthew Mayes competed in the boys’ 2A state championship event. They were the individual headliners for two teams that excelled in the WPAC. The North Surry boys won the conference by one point over Surry Central.
In the next article, we’ll look back at the winter sports.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16