Fresh off a decisive 42-7 effort in only two quarters of work last week, the Avery Vikings (3-1) continues its non-conference schedule this week when it ventures off the mountain to Burke County to tangle with the Draughn Wildcats. Last week, the Wildcats (2-2) were also impressive in its most recent outing, shutting out a rebuilding Cherryville club on the road by a school-record 61-0 final score.
Avery earned a come-from-behind win by a 32-28 score over Draughn last season, and the teams have split their two all-time meetings, with each team winning at home.
Scouting the Wildcats
The Draughn Wildcats are members of the Northwest Foothills 2A Athletic Conference. Draughn finished its 2018 season with a 1-10 record under first-year head coach Chris Powell. The Wildcats returned seven starters on offense and three defensive starters from its 2018 club.
The team’s most explosive weapon from last season, Tyler McKinney, has graduated and signed to play college football at Emory and Henry, but others have taken up the offensive mantel in Coach Powell’s Shotgun Spread offense which predicates itself, much like the Avery team, on speed and execution. Among those players is second-year starting quarterback Braxton Cox. The 6-foot, 1-inch 185-pound senior threw for more than 2,100 yards last season to lead the conference, with 8 TD and 19 interceptions.
Taking over the reins in the backfield is senior Trent Corn, along with Bryan Walker, Patton transfer Donovan King and sophomore Omarion Conley. Catching the football for the Wildcats will be do-in-all player senior Nick Chrisco, as well as Denver Treadway (18 receptions, 275 yards, TD in 2018) and senior Khe-nai Banks. Draughn graduated a pair of players from its offensive line last season, but has moved a number of players and will rely on the steady hand of starting center Tyler Warlick.
Defensively, Draughn implements a multiple 40-front. Corn doubles as outside linebacker for the Wildcats, with returning starters Zach Poteet and Donnell Wilkins manning the post at inside linebacker.
Treadway will play on both sides of the football as he mans the secondary at cornerback. The defense boasted a simple game plan as it entered 2019: get better at stopping the run.
“We’ve got to be able to stop the run, and we were bad at that last year,” Powell told media outlets during the preseason. “We’ve put a huge emphasis… on getting 11 hats to the football…. Another thing we struggled with was tackling. We’re trying to get that solidified.”
The low down
In last week’s win, Avery’s defensive lineman wreaked havoc on North Wilkes for most of the night, from plugging holes up front in the running game to making a pair of key plays on special teams that translated into positive field position and, eventually, two touchdowns.
This week’s game will be a far cry from the matchup last season, which was moved to a Wednesday night thanks to Hurricane Florence. The two teams last season combined for only three wins, while the teams enter this week’s contest with five combined victories already under their collective belt.
“The last two weeks Draughn has scored a lot of points. They have an explosive quarterback who’s a good player and can throw the ball a little bit,” Avery head coach Mac Bryan said of this week’s opponent. “They have a small tailback who can really run and is really fast. They’ve got the ability to make big plays, and have made them the past couple of weeks. They scored 55 in their win against Foard, so they are scoring a lot of points and making plays, so our defense has got to do some good things like pressure the quarterback and not let the running back get going south on us, or he’s gonna be hard to catch. Offensively, we’re going to have to put some points up, because they’ve certainly proven that they can. It will be an interesting.”
According to Bryan, the Vikings may see the return from injury of wide receiver/defensive back Ty Smith, who missed last week’s win over NWHS. His presence on the field this week is sure to provide another offensive weapon and defensive stalwart to aid the team’s overall depth and big-play capability on both sides of the football.
Avery should enter this week’s game with confidence after it shut down the rushing attack of previously unbeaten North Wilkes last week, and another strong effort will lead to the doubling of the Viking win total of a season ago.
By the numbers
0 — interceptions thrown in 2019 by Avery junior quarterback Troy Hoilman. The quarterback has tossed 18 touchdowns during the same four-game span
3 — number of touchdown passes caught by both Avery’s Chad Giarrusso and Draughn’s Denver Treadway in victories for their respective teams last week. Also the number of TD passes by Avery’s Hoilman in last year’s matchup with Draughn
11 — completions in 11 attempts by Draughn quarterback Braxton Cox in last week’s win over Cherryville, the most passing attempts without an interception by a Burke County player in more than 10 years
40 — total yards given up by the Draughn defense in 43 plays during last week’s win against the Ironmen
89 — receiving yards from freshman Giarrusso in last week’s two-quarter victory over North Wilkes
203 — rushing yards in 2019 by Avery’s Lucas Andrews to lead the team
282.8 — average passing yards per game by Avery’s Hoilman through the first four Vikings games of 2019, good for 1,131 total passing yards
Read next week’s edition of The AJT for a recap of this week’s matchup at Draughn, as well as a preview of next week’s border battle against neighboring Cloudland High School.