NEWLAND — Looking to bounce back off its first loss of the 2019 season, the Avery Vikings (2-1) return home to The Mountain, where it seeks to unleash some of its frustrations on the visiting Vikings from North Wilkes High School. North Wilkes enters the game with a perfect 3-0 record, after having dispatched a pair of winless clubs in West Caldwell and North Forsythe, in addition to its most recent victory last week, a 28-6 win over North Iredell.
Wilkes County native and Avery head coach Mac Bryan welcomes a second consecutive team from his home county to Big Red Country, as Avery routed West Wilkes at home two weeks ago. Avery and North Wilkes last faced one another on the gridiron in 2016, a 28-18 win by Avery on the road in Hays, the second of two straight wins over North. Avery leads the head-to-head series between the schools with a 9-3 record in 12 all-time meetings.
Scouting the Vikings
North Wilkes High School is coached by eighth-year head coach Monty Chipman, and are members of the Mountain Valley 1A/2A Conference. The Vikings finished the 2018 season with a 5-6 record overall, including a 1-6 record in conference games. North boast nine starters on both offense and defense from its five-win club a season ago, including an experienced senior quarterback to run the team’s Spread offense in 6-foot, 3-inch, 185-pound senior Cole Chipman, who has passed for four touchdowns thus far in 2019.
Assisting Chipman with the burden of the North Wilkes rushing attack is six-foot senior running back Dylan Church, who has toted the pigskin for almost 1,700 yards in his prep career, including more than 1,100 rushing yards last season. Church has ran for nine touchdowns through three games.
When the Vikings pass the football, the top returning receiver this season for North is Caleb Souther, a 6-foot, 3-inch tight end and linebacker.
The low down
North Wilkes has been favored in the games it has competed in thus far this season and has met expectations thus far. This week, however, Avery plans to be the sternest test to date.
Avery looks to rinse the taste of last week’s loss out of its collective mouth, as Avery was outgunned in the second half of its matchup with North Buncombe following an impressive first-half outing. Avery opened up an 18-point first-quarter lead against the Black Hawks last Friday night, only to see the 3A opponent slow down the Avery offense and score 41 unanswered points to win going away.
This week, Avery hosts a foe of a smaller class than NBHS in 2A North Wilkes, though the visiting Vikings also boasts offensive firepower that can score points, as evidenced by the 115 points scored by the club in its first three contests of the season.
For the home team to earn its third win of 2019, look for quarterback Troy Hoilman to bounce back from his lowest passing yardage and touchdown output of the season in last week’s loss. Avery will look to exploit matchups in the passing game this week, but the Vikings also saw a solid effort on the ground last week from running back Lucas Andrews, whose increased production can provide effective offensive balance and make the AHS offense even more potent and difficult to contain.
“They run the ball well, and have some physical runners who control the game well. North’s defense is active and will blitz a lot to create some issues there,” Avery head coach Mac Bryan said of this week’s foe. “They’ve been really good in the turnover area, forcing some turnovers and having some position in the kicking game. They’re a good football team and undefeated.”
By the numbers
0 — punts by North Buncombe in its victory over Avery last week
10 — penalties committed by Avery in its 44-21 defeat in Weaverville to North Buncombe
13 — touchdown passes by ACHS quarterback Troy Hoilman through three games
16 — minimum consecutive games lost by two of North Wilkes’ opponents thus far this season (N. Forsyth and W. Caldwell)
20 — first downs gained by both Avery and North Buncombe in last week’s game in Weaverville
29 — combined tackles in which Avery defenders Lucas Andrews or Jesse Jones were part of in last week’s game
71 — rushing yards by Avery running back Lucas Andrews in last week’s game at North Buncombe
122.7 — average receiving yards per game by Avery wide receiver Ty Smith to lead the club through three games.
Read next week’s edition of The AJT for a recap of this week’s game with North Wilkes, as well as a preview of next week’s non-conference matchup at Draughn.