Avery schedule preview

Avery quarterback Will Stanford runs to evade the Owen defense in the Vikings’ conference game against Owen on Oct. 22, 2021 at MacDonald Stadium. Stanford will again trigger the Big Red offense in 2022.

NEWLAND — The 2022 Avery Vikings features a new head coach and coaching staff, as well as a new mentality.

Coming off a disappointing 1-10 season in 2021 under former head coach Mac Bryan despite qualifying for the state 1A playoffs, the Vikings will look to build on lessons learned through last season’s adversity and turn around the outcome in its favor after falling short in several close games a season ago.

With new head coach Ethan Farmer at the helm, the Vikings schedule features its usual allotment of Western Highlands Conference foes, along with a quartet of games out of conference to open its 2022 campaign.

The Big Red opens the 2022 regular season on the road on Friday, Aug. 19, as it travels down Highway 18 to Gaston County to tangle with the Cherryville Ironmen. With a 20-20 tie score at the half in last year’s contest in Newland, CHS outscored Avery 14-2 in the second half to secure the road win in 2021.

The following week, on Friday, Aug. 26, Avery will welcome Wilkes Central for the Vikings’ home opener at the renovated MacDonald Stadium, where a brand new artificial surface and stadium lighting promises will help make for an exciting home debut. The Vikings were scheduled to take on the Eagles last season in Moravian Falls, but COVID-19 protocols in the WCHS program forced the 2021 matchup to be canceled and instead had Avery travel to play at Cherokee in a rescheduled contest.

The Vikings open the month of September with another non-conference home contest, this time a Labor Day weekend matchup on September 2 against nearby Hampton (Tenn.). Hampton, who advanced to the state championship game in its division in Tennessee last season, defeated Avery 54-26 in their 2021 encounter in Carter County.

On Friday, Sept. 9, Avery renews acquaintances with its 11-year former head coach Darrell Brewer, as the Vikings make the short road trip to Marion to face the McDowell Titans. McDowell upended Avery 33-30 in come-from-behind fashion last season in Newland.

Avery is scheduled to celebrate Homecoming on Friday, Sept. 16, when it welcomes the Rosman Tigers to MacDonald Stadium to open conference play. The lone Viking victory of 2021 came against the Tigers in Transylvania County last season, a 58-12 win. One week later, AHS travels to Valdese to face the Draughn Tigers, who defeated Avery 42-22 in their matchup last season in Newland.

On Friday, Oct. 7, Avery will travel to Burnsville to face off against the Mountain Heritage Cougars. Mountain Heritage earned a 40-20 win in Newland a season ago and will have a new playing surface to welcome the Vikings to Briggs Stadium. The next week, the Vikings will host the Madison Patriots, who squeaked past Avery in a thrilling 28-27 game in Marshall last season.

Avery closes out the month of October and its regular season with its final regular-season road game, traveling to Swannanoa to face the Owen Warhorses on Friday, Oct. 21. The following Friday, on October 28, Avery welcomes rival Mitchell to MacDonald Stadium for Senior Night and the annual renewal of The AJT Border Battle Classic. Mitchell advanced to the 1AA state championship game in Chapel Hill a season ago, falling to state champion Tarboro.

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