The Golden Eagles (0-4, 0-1 Northwest 1A/2A) nearly upended unbeaten East Surry before falling 19-14. This week, defending state champion Mount Airy (5-0, 1-0) travels to Dobson. After giving the Cardinals all they could handle, Surry Central coach Monty Southern doesn’t think his team left its fighting spirit in Pilot Mountain.
“We had a great week of practice,” Southern said. “My main concern is when you lose a game like you did against East Surry and go into the next week afraid you’re going to have an emotional letdown.”
The visitors are acutely aware of the threat presented by Central and that means business as usual when it comes to game planning.
“The county aspect, the kids know each other, yes. But I don’t think we prepare any different for them as we prepared for Williamston last year or Thomasville this year,” Granite Bears assistant coach Donald Price said. “We feel like every team we line up with has the ability to beat us, and our kids understand that concept and they’ve bought into that philosophy. We don’t really prepare for any team any differently, we prepare for all of them as they are world champions and they can beat us.”
And when Mount Airy was preparing this week, it made a point to plot a way of slowing the Golden Eagles’ triple option attack. Quick hitters and misdirection plays have cracked the Granite Bears’ defense this year.
“Those are the types of plays that hurt us and Surry Central has hurt us with them before,” Mount Airy Darren Taylor said.
“That offense poses some things that can cause teams problems if it’s executed and ran the way it ought to be run. They can score points and they probably gave East Surry, an undefeated team, the biggest scare they’ve had all year. Even though Central has not won a game, that shows you that they are team that you have to prepare for because they are well coached, the kids play hard and they suit up to play us every year.”
The notion that Mount Airy, which has won 21 straight games, has chinks in its armor elicited a chuckle from Southern.
“To me, they look pretty solid on tape,” he said. “There’s not a lot of positions we point at and say, ‘Hey, that’s a weak spot.’”
Mount Airy has shown no problem scoring, ringing up 228 points so far, good for second-best in the conference. Last week, it hung 60 points on West Stokes. Team speed, especially in the back field, stands out to Southern.
“They’ve got a gear like nobody we’ve played yet,” he said.
Simulating that speed in practice has been a difficulty for Surry Central. Another thing that caught Southern’s eye was how Mount Airy linemen make a point of running downfield for blocks that lead to extra yardage.
The Golden Eagles haven’t shown the propensity to keep the same kind of pace offensively, so they will have to make the most of each possession. That means eliminating drive-killing turnovers will be of utmost importance.
The biggest improvement the Golden Eagles showed last week was on the defensive side of the ball. Despite allowing the Cardinals’ Hunter Diamont to rush for 269 yards, Central shut down the East Surry offense for the most part. Plays that earlier in the season went for chunks of yardage against the Golden Eagles were bottled up. Tough runs by backs were met by gang-tackling efforts. However, Southern said his team needs to keep getting better at those things to pick up its first victory.
“We got to continue getting better at tackling,” he said. “We just got to continue working on what we’re working on.”
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