The Wilkes Dirty Birds swept three youth football games from the Carolina Shiners in both organizations’ Pop Warner League season opener on Saturday at Chatham Park in Elkin.
In the opening tilt for players 8 and under, the Dirty Birds posted a 6-0 shutout victory under the direction of Head Coach Lee Grose. Butter Gibbs scored the lone touchdown in the game for Wilkes.
“I’m really proud of our kids,” said Grose. “We came out a little slow in the first half but came alive especially on defense the second half. It definitely was a battle and I’m proud of our kids and super excited we came out with the win.”
The Shiners’ leading tackler was Jacob Walls, and Gabriel Underwood led the team in rushing yards, according to Head Coach Bradley Poplin. Walls and Brantley Anderson also shared the rushing load for the Shiners. The team was penalized only twice, both times for holding.
In the 10u matchup that followed, the Dirty Birds clipped the Shiners, 13-6, and never trailed after Andrew Herman took the opening kickoff and raced into the end zone.
“It was a good win to kick off our season,” said Wilkes Head Coach Mark Herman. “These kids came out and played great team football and controlled all sides of the ball. The work they put in at practice paid off.”
Talyn Church led the Shiners with about 200 rushing yards and scored the team’s lone touchdown, according to Head Coach Justin Simmons. Colin Carroll, Carson Poplin and Mason Simmons led Carolina in tackles.
“I am proud of all these kids and I’m glad we’ve got a little bit of ‘normal’ going on,” said Simmons. “We knew the Dirty Birds game plan; it never changes. We gave up two big plays and that’s when they scored. We know what to work on and how to fix any holes we’ve got and we’ll be looking forward to a playoff matchup hopefully later in the season.”
In the third game, the 12u Dirty Birds clipped the Shiners, 27-6.
“These kids came out and played a great game,” said Wilkes Head Coach Justin Grose. “They’ve worked hard at practice and it paid off. It’s not many games you have a good day on all sides of the ball. It was a great team effort.”
Chris Anderson, the Carolina 12u head coach, said his squad was simply outplayed. “Our boys didn’t show up. We live and die by the O (offensive) line and they didn’t get the job done. Hopefully we’ll get it right for the Tigers on Friday night.”
In the day’s final matchup, the 14u St. Stephens Indians shut out the Dirty Birds, 20-0.
Wilkes Head Coach Brandon Day said, “This was our first game in over a year. I saw some positive things but we have to make some adjustments in practice.”
Day thanked all the Dirty Birds parents and players and also expressed gratitude to Harvest Time Christian Academy for letting the teams use its practice facility.
The Dirty Birds will be traveling to Durham this weekend to take on N.C. Darkhorse Elite.
The under-14 travel teams are competing this fall in the Northwest Pop Warner Little Scholars League. Normally they play in the spring Blue Ridge Youth Football League but had their seasons moved up when high school football was postponed to the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Simmons thanked all those who have helped get the Shiners off and running. “Chris (Anderson) has been with me on this since the beginning when COVID shut us down in the spring. It’s been hard getting it all together but we’ve got that first game behind us and we aren’t looking back.
“All the coaches and parents have put in countless hours mowing and painting fields and cleaning to be able to give these kids a football season.”
He added his thanks to Austin Ballpark and the Traphill community for letting the teams practice, and to Freddy Davis for allowing the Shiners use his land in Elkin for games.