RONDA — Every good team has to battle through adversity, and for the East Wilkes Cardinals, they battled for a win Monday night.
The Cardinals (5-0, 1-0) earned a 21-0 win against conference rival North Wilkes in a hard fought match in the rain. After heavy rain postponed the game from Friday night to Monday, it set up the Cardinals defense to put on another stellar performance. The Cardinals did not give North Wilkes many chances, especially not in the first half. North Wilkes started the game with five straight three-and-outs, and with every defensive stop, it motivated the offense.
Still, if the Cardinals were going to win, they’d have to do something they haven’t done all year. When senior quarterback Chris Ward was injured on a play during the second quarter. Ward ran to the outside and was hit hard, and did not return. At press time, his condition was not official.
“Oddly enough in pregame we talked about handling adversity, and staring it in the face,” Head Coach J.K. Adkins said. “Tonight was our first injury bug… but that’s why you’re a team and you have backups.”
Stepping in was their JV quarterback, sophomore Bryce Vestal. Vestal had to shake off some nerves and ultimately put on a solid performance. It was Vestal who got the Cardinals on the board on a play fake to Camon Bryan.
“I was reading the three technique and he closed down on Camon and I just pulled it, and I wasn’t touched the whole way,” Vestal said.
Vestal went on to say that after that score, he felt like he settled in and shook off the nerves. He also noted the strong defense all game long. The defense came in averaging only 11 points allowed per game, and now have their second shutout of the season.
“We’re pretty good on defense… We don’t have a guy that’s just making all the tackles. It’s a very unselfish group and they’ve bought into the idea that they’ve got to do their job, and trust that the guy beside them is going to do theirs, and they’re fun to watch,” Adkins said.
“We’ve just instilled a mindset on defense that, just stay relentless, no matter what situation we’re in, no matter what the score is, we’re going to bring our A-game every down,” senior Chris Dixon said.
Camon Bryan and Andrew Nance added rushing touchdowns in the second and third quarter to seal the victory. Next up for the Cardinals are the Alleghany Trojans (1-4, 0-1). While the Trojans aren’t off to a great start this year, the Cardinals are far from treating Friday night’s game like a cakewalk. The Cardinals are looking for their first win against Alleghany since 2011. With it being a short week, and with rain in the forecast all week, Adkins said they’ve got their work cut out for them.
One last thing to watch for is who will be crowned Homecoming Queen Friday night. That will happen during the halftime of Friday night’s game.
Ryan DeCosta can be reached at 336-258-4052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.