For the seniors on the East Wilkes Cardinals football program, their annual game against Alleghany has meant so much to them over the past three years, but each time, was met with defeat.
They changed that Thursday night in blowout fashion. For the first time since 2011, East Wilkes defeated Alleghany, showing no mercy to the team that had done them wrong for the past three seasons in a 49-0 win. The Cardinals (6-0, 2-0 MVAC) dominated on both sides of the ball, giving them their second win in a four-day span. The Cardinals defeated North Wilkes 21-0 Monday night, meaning the team had limited time to prepare.
“I felt confident about putting them in a situation where they had to play off a two-day practice,” East Wilkes Head Coach JK Adkins said. “I thought if we dialed in for two straight days and got ready mentally and rest our bodies a little bit we could execute and play well.”
Execution is exactly what East Wilkes had right from the start. Making his first career start, sophomore quarterback Bryce Vestal found senior Andrew Nance for a 39-yard touchdown pass. Vestal had to step up in a big way over the past two games as senior Chris Ward tore his ACL during the second quarter of Monday night’s game. Ward is done for the season. Vestal struggled at times with some dropped snaps, but once he settled in he saw where Alleghany’s weaknesses were and attacked them.
“[Alleghany’s] real big and physical but we had an advantage when it came to speed and we utilized that really well,” Vestal said. “I was nervous at first again, but after the first play, it became natural.”
For the seniors, it’s their first win against Alleghany, and seniors like Nance, Camon Bryan, and Alec Anderson stepped up in a big way to earn it. Offensively, the running game was finding holes and scoring. Couch scored on a 20-yard run, while Nance found the endzone three times on the night. Anderson, a transfer from Wilkes Central scored on an interception return, and later on a QB sneak.
“Shoutout to my linemen. Alleghany’s a visible physical team and I think we played just as physical,” Nance said.
“Consistency is what Andrew brings to the table,” coach Adkins said. “And Devin, quite honestly, is probably the most explosive person we have in the open field.”
Defensively, it’s the second-straight shutout game, and third on the year. On average, they’re allowing 7.66 points per game.
“I think it shows that we’ve got something good this year,” senior defensive tackle Quincy Lineberger said. “We’re a bunch of maniacs. We go out there looking to get a shutout every game. We have an unselfish defense. We play for the guy beside of us.”
Despite being 6-0, the team said that they don’t look at that too much, and have to focus on getting the next win. Their next challenge is Friday night at Elkin (0-5, 0-1 MVAC). Elkin plays North Wilkes Monday night, and regardless of that outcome, they’ll be looking to deliver a solid performance for their rescheduled homecoming game.
Ryan DeCosta can be reached at 336-258-4052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.