Right out of the gate South and West Stokes faced each other in a county rival game to begin the 2017 high school football season. The Sauras traveled to King and fought valiantly before falling 35-14 to the Wildcats in a non-conference matchup.
“Their defense is much improved from last season,” said Wildcat’s coach Jimmy Upchurch. “Hats off to coach (Mike) Holmes and his team for the way they played. I liked our kid’s effort in the game and after we got over some confusion in our play calling in the first half we settled down in the second and started executing what I felt like we could do.”
The first quarter became a defensive battle with neither team allowing a score. It wasn’t until the 5:46 mark of the second before the Cats got on the board with a 52-yard run by Amon Conrad. Caleb Peters added the PAT for a 7-0 Wildcat lead.
On the Sauras next possession, they used a seven-play drive that started from their 19-yard line and scored the tying touchdown on Austin Lilly’s quarterback sneak with 2:28 left before the break. The Wildcats wasted no time and marched down the field in six plays and scored when quarterback Tyler Smith found Landon Wilkins in the back corner of the end zone for a 14-7 lead at the half.
West Stokes used a long sustaining drive to open up the third quarter and it gave them a 21-7 cushion when sophomore Kelin Parson hit pay dirt from three yards out with 7:43 left in the period. The Wildcat defense forced a punt on the Sauras next possession and West used a 57-yard return by Chris Brown to set up the team’s fourth touchdown of the game. Parson tallied his second touchdown with a 10- yard run giving the Cats a 28-7 advantage.
Wasting little time to get back in the game, Lilly hit Saura wide receiver Avery Wood in stride for a 66-yard touchdown strike and cut the led to 28-14 with 3:16 left in the third.
“We never died or went away throughout the evening,” stated Holmes. “Lilly’s pass to Avery was a good response to their touchdown. Unfortunately they snuck one in on us before the half and then used that long drive to start the second. That sort of put a dagger in us, but we never quit. There are some little things we have to sure up before next week and we will before we play North Wilkes.”
The Wildcats put the game away with a two-yard touchdown run by Brown to start the fourth and final quarter.
“We definitely have some things we have to fix this upcoming week,” Upchurch commented. “We’ll meet with our coaching staff on Sunday and come up with a game plan against a tough Mount Airy team on Friday.”
For the game, the Wildcats gained 336 total yards of offense to the Sauras 219. Conrad led the Cats in rushing with 69-yards on seven carries and a touchdown. Smith had 220-yard passing on 9-of-16 with no interceptions. Adam McMillian led the Sauras with 69-yards on 14 carries, while Lilly was 5-of-11 with two interceptions and 92-yards. Junior Zan Sandlin had 76-yards receiving for West and Wood had 66 for South.
Leading the defense for West Stokes was senior Tyler Walker with 17-tackles. He is now 23 shy of the school record for career tackles. Leading the Sauras with tackles was cornerback John Williams with 14.
West Stokes (1-0) will travel to Mount Airy (1-0) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and play another rival game. South Stokes (0-1) will host North Wilkes (1-0) who beat Bishop McGuinness 41-7 last week.
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.