Brody barrels upfield

East Wilkes junior Brody Martin surges forward for positive yardage Friday against Starmount, with the Rams' Owen Shore in pursuit.

By land or by air, the Starmount varsity football team leaned heavily on junior running back Zack Dezern on Friday night.

The result was a 21-0 shutout of East Wilkes in Ronda, a victory that clinched second place in the Northwest 1A Conference for the Rams (6-4 overall, 5-1 in league play).

The Cardinals finished the regular season 4-6 and 2-4 (fifth in the NW1A) but still qualified for the state playoffs. East will host North Stokes—a team it beat 28-0 on Oct. 14—at 7:30 p.m. Friday on Ebb Tharpe Field.

“We get to play in front of our home crowd and we don’t have to travel,” said East Coach Jonathan Wilmoth of the playoff matchup. “We tell our kids it’s a new season and hopefully we’ll play better come Friday night.”

Against Starmount, turnovers and mistakes in Ram territory plagued the Cardinals. The opening kickoff by Easton Martin was fumbled and recovered by the Rams, who marched 52 yards for the opening score.

On fourth-and-1 from the East 9, Dezern swept right for a first down to the 4. On third-and-goal from the 2, Dezern rushed straight up the middle into the end zone with 5:36 left in the opening quarter. Miranda Mueller’s point-after kick made it 7-0.

After East drove 54 yards into Ram territory, Starmount’s Davion Coleman intercepted a Briggs Gentry pass at the Ram 30 and returned it out to the 47. A roughing the punter penalty on East turned fourth-and-7 into a fourth-and-2, and Dezern rushed up the middle for a new set of downs at the Cardinal 27.

The Cardinals then dodged a bullet as a wide-open Mason Moxley dropped a perfectly-thrown ball in the end zone, preserving a seven-point deficit for the hosts at the break.

“We struggled to get moving offensively and we’ve got to play better down in the red zone,” Wilmoth added. “Our defense kept us in it and made some plays toward the end.”

On the first possession of the second half, on fourth-and-2 from the East 44, Dezern took a direct snap and found A.J Pardue wide open in the middle of the field for a 42-yard completion. From the 2, Dezern punched it in on the ground with 8:38 left in the third. Mueller added the PAT.

East looked like it might answer on the following series, but a fumbled snap led to a 15-yard loss and sack by Steven Sullivan assisted by Dezern backed up the Cardinals and forced a punt.

After a turnover on downs, the Rams later took over at their own 37. On first-and-goal from the 7, Dezern found a hole on the left side and found paydirt for the third time with 9:34 left to play. Mueller’s PAT finished the scoring.

A workhorse in the backfield, Dezern got the call 33 times for 125 yards and three scores. He ended up with 205 total yards.

East junior Brennan Arnder led his club with 14 tackles, 10 of which were solo. Senior Kole Lambert had two tackles for loss and a pass deflection. Junior Brody Martin also broke up a fourth-down pass.

The Cardinals drove down to the Ram 17-yard line on the next series, but a snap over the head of Gentry was recovered by Caden Abernethy, snuffing out the final threat of the night.

After its third-straight win over East, Starmount will host South Stanly in the first round of the 1A playoffs Friday night.

Hawks edge Wildcats

West Wilkes ended its season on a positive note, taking a 12-6 nonconference win over South Davidson, Friday night in Denton.

West got a key fourth-and-goal stop at the Wildcat 1-yard line late in the third quarter. The Blackhawks then drove 99 yards for the winning score, as Braden Woodie rumbled for a 13-yard touchdown run early in the fourth. The two-point run attempt fell short.

“It was a little bit ugly, but we’ll take it,” said Phil Collett, West’s coach. “I attribute some of the sloppiness to the fact that we combined the varsity and JV and they hadn’t really played together as one unit.”

The Blackhawks got on the board first in the opening quarter. Shane Gragg picked up a dropped lateral pass made by the Wildcats and returned it 43 yards to the 2. From there, freshman Diego Chaves ran up the middle for the touchdown. The point-after kick was blocked.

The hosts evened the score in the second quarter. Jacob Gordon found paydirt on a 7-yard run. The two-point pass attempt was overthrown.

West finished 2-6 overall and, after Foothills 2A Conference play also concluded Friday, found itself in a three-way tie (with Wilkes Central and North Wilkes) for fifth in the league with a 1-5 mark.

After its first matchup against West since at least 2004, South Davidson concluded its campaign 1-8 overall and 1-5 (sixth place) in the 1A/2A West 33 Conference.

“I think it was a real positive to get a preview of what we’ll have next year and it’s always good to end the season with a win,” added Collett.

Forbush blanks Central

Forbush posted a 28-0 win over Wilkes Central, Friday night in Moravian Falls.

Senior Derek Matthews did most of the damage for the Falcons, rushing 27 times for 119 yards and four touchdowns. He scored once in the second quarter, twice in the third and a final time in the fourth.

Luke Bennett, also a senior, complemented Matthews with 102 rushing yards on 16 carries.

“Despite it being a disappointing season in many ways and very trying season because of injuries and COVID, I thought our kids continued to compete,” said Central’s coach, Ron Turner. “We just made too mistakes against Forbush and you can’t do that against a very good team. They’re an extremely physical team that was senior loaded.”

Turner added that Forbush’s physical play and “maturity that comes with having an older team showed, especially in the second half when our kids got worn down.”

In the schools’ first meeting since 2012, Forbush snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Eagles. It was Forbush Coach Jeremy Funderburk’s first matchup against his former school.

The Falcons improved to 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Foothills 2A, good for a three-way tie for second in the league. The Eagles finished the season 3-5, 1-5 (three-way tie for fifth with North Wilkes and West Wilkes).

Forbush will host North Surry in Friday’s first round of the 2A playoffs. The Falcons won earlier in the season, 45-27.

Hounds outduel Vikings

North Surry rode a big third quarter to a 46-32 win over North Wilkes, Friday night in Hays.

The Greyhounds broke open a 20-20 tie at halftime, outscoring the Vikings 20-6 in the third quarter. The visitors then added an insurance score in the final period.

North junior Chris Kimmel caught three touchdown passes from senior quarterback Zach Wyatt.

North Surry finished the regular season at 5-4 overall and 4-2 (three-way tie for second) in the Foothills 2A. North Wilkes concluded the year at 2-7, 1-5 (three-way tie for fifth with Wilkes Central and West Wilkes).

It was the teams’ first matchup since 2014, when the Greyhounds posted a 48-19 win, also at Raner Wiles Stadium.

North Coach David Wojtecki did not respond to multiple requests for comments on the game.

The Greyhounds will travel to East Bend to take on Forbush in the opening round of the 2A playoffs Friday.

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