NEWLAND — Friday the 13th is generally deemed a day connected with bad fortune. Don’t tell that to the Avery Vikings football team, as the Big Red pummeled the visiting North Wilkes Vikings with its air assault to the tune of 42 first-half points before inclement weather at halftime forced the remainder of the game at MacDonald Stadium to be cancelled.
The 42-7 win improved Avery to 3-1 overall this season, eclipsing its win total of 2018 with seven regular-season games left on the schedule.
“I thought we played exceptionally well, no doubt about it,” Avery head coach Mac Bryan said following the win. “I think we got on them quickly and we were really sharp offensively. Defensively, we did an outstanding job with the exception of one breakdown that cost us seven points, but other than that, they really couldn’t do much against us in the first half. Our special teams played really well. We pinned them inside the 1-yard line at that one point and were able to cause a fumble for a touchdown. We tackled or blocked two of their punts. It was a really good game in all three phases.”
Leading the offensive charge continues to be Avery junior signal-caller Troy Hoilman, who completed 16 of 27 passes for 236 yards and five touchdowns. Hoilman through four games has thrown for 18 touchdowns and is yet to throw an interception in the 2019 season.
Despite playing without injured top yardage receiver Ty Smith, the Vikings failed to miss a beat. Freshman Chad Giarrusso hauled in three touchdown passes and four passes overall for 89 yards, while teammate Jonas Bowman caught four passes for 71 yards and Jesse Jones caught two passes, both for touchdowns.
North Wilkes was held to just 123 yards in total offense in the abbreviated contest, with 85 yards on 15 carries by Dylan Church. Teammate Adam Winebarger provided North’s lone score as part of a 53-yard running effort.
Avery took the opening kickoff and struck first with the long pass, as Hoilman found Giarrusso in stride on the game’s third play for the first Big Red points of the matchup. Finley Serafim’s PAT gave Avery the early seven-point lead.
The Viking defense rose up and forced a punt on North’s first offensive series, then the Avery offense went back to work, showing the ability to methodically march downfield, driving 86 yards over eight plays. Hoilman found Jones on a 23-yard pass play to hit paydirt, with Serafim tacking on the extra point for a 14-0 Avery advantage. Both clubs exchanged punts as the opening quarter closed with Avery maintaining its two-touchdown lead.
As the second period began, the AHS special teams made a key play, as Levi Andrews burst through the line and blocked a North Wilkes punt, giving the home Vikings possession inside the North 25-yard line.
Five plays after the special teams heroics, Avery’s Hoilman connected with Jones on a 23-yard touchdown across the middle of the field, with the extra point increasing the Avery Vikings’ bulge to 21-0 less than two minutes into the second quarter.
North’s lone offensive highlight of the night came on its ensuing offensive series, as the team began to find success with its rushing attack. NWHS covered 80 yards on four plays to find the goal line, the final play covering 53 yards courtesy of running back Adam Winebarger. The Zack Wyatt PAT cut Avery’s lead to 21-7.
For the remainder of the half, Avery maintained firm control, beginning by immediately answering North’s touchdown with one of its own. Hoilman found Giarrusso for their second touchdown strike, a 25-yard gainer that propelled AHS to a 28-7 lead with 6:26 to play in the half.
Avery’s score was followed by punts from both teams, with a punt by Avery’s Jones pinning the North offense inside its own 2-yard line, a move that proved significant three plays later. With the ball on the North 1-yard line, NWHS quarterback Cole Chipman fumbled the football in his own end zone. Avery’s Bowman fell on the pigskin for a Viking touchdown, pushing the home team to a 35-7 lead with 2:50 remaining before halftime.
Forced to punt on its next series, North punter Michael Call mishandled the high snap and was taken down by Avery’s Levi Andrews and Steven Deyton at the North Wilkes 6-yard line. From there, Hoilman and Giarrusso hooked up for a third touchdown pass and a 42-7 lead that was taken into the locker room at the half.
Just as the intermission began, the skies opened and heavy rain fell at the stadium, with accompanied lightning in the vicinity which forced the evacuation of fans and officials from the bleacher area for a weather delay. Following an approximately 30-minute wait, officials made the decision to end the contest, giving Avery the 35-point win.
“That was probably a good thing that we didn’t have to go back out there after that long delay,” Bryan added. “There was no telling how long that delay would have lasted. I was really pleased how we came out on fire. Troy had a great night and Chad for a freshman receiver did an outstanding job. All our guys are playing extremely well right now and we have a rhythm to what we’re doing. We feel pretty good about where we are, but we’re only as good as our next week, so we have to be ready for a good Draughn football team.”
Avery will travel this Friday, Sept. 20, to Valdese to take on the Draughn Wildcats, who shut out Cherryville on the road last week.