By STAFF REPORTS

This is the 14th article in a weekly series highlighting big local sports’ anniversaries, given the current down time for local sports. Readers are encouraged to share any of their memories from local sports this time of year by emailing wjpsports@wilkes.net. Photos would be appreciated too but are not a must.

For consideration to be included, please include what month (and day if known) and year the event took place.

This week, we take a look back at some of the bigger anniversaries from Wilkes County sports in the fall months of 2010 ... 10 years ago at this time:

Victory over Central will stick with Martin

EDITOR’S NOTE: This spring (and fall) will the mark the 25th anniversary of the North Wilkes boys soccer program after starting playing in the fall of 1996. Over the first 13 years of the program, the Vikings had squared off with Wilkes Central almost annually with very little success. That all would change in 2010, which also happened to be the first year under former Wilkes Central Assistant Soccer Coach Ed Martin, when the Vikings beat Central for the time. Compared to surrounding counties, Wilkes County soccer is relatively young in soccer as it didn’t start at the high school level until 1987 when Wilkes Central was the first school to incept it (the Blackhawks started the year before North Wilkes and East Wilkes wouldn’t begin soccer until 1999). The following article, the sidebar from that match, is from the Sept. 3, 2010 edition of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot. It has been edited.

It took a few minutes after Thursday’s 2-1 soccer victory over perennial power Wilkes Central for it to finally sink in for North Wilkes Head Coach Ed Martin.

Almost in mid-sentence, Vikings’ Coach Ed Martin stopped talking and started to simply smile.

For a second, Martin was quiet, except for the smile, as his gaze lifted up and over and possibly toward the visitor’s sideline. On that sideline, somehow, in some way, the Eagles were leaving a soccer field in Hays with a defeat for the first time ever.

“You know, it’s really just starting to hit me,” said Martin, the smile ever-present. “We beat Wilkes Central.”

The moment was poignant for Martin and the Vikings for various reasons. Martin had been an assistant at Central for several years, and spent some of that time helping out Eagles’ Coach Mike Sloan.

“Mike Sloan’s been a mentor of mine for years,” said Martin. “I’ve listened to him talk to players … listened to him in a huddle after a game. … It’s just sinking in what we’ve done tonight.”

What the Vikings did Thursday night was without precedent. There was no way to predict it. It’s not that North Wilkes had never beaten Wilkes Central in soccer; it’s that it had never even been close.

In the best year in the short history of the Vikings, 2008, when the team went 11-7-1 and made the playoffs for the only time, the games against their cross-county rivals from Moravian Falls were still soccer blowouts.

Those two matches were 5-2 and 5-0 in favor of Wilkes Central. And before Thursday, that was the highlight, from the North perspective, of the series.

Even the Vikings’ players, confident before the game, seemed stunned by the turn of events. After Francisco Landaverde scored the game-clinching second North Wilkes goal, his face broke into a Cheshire grin as he ran back toward midfield.

Then Landaverde stopped suddenly, as if unsure what to do next; he finally turned around, ran back down the sideline, and joyously slid to his knees, arms outspread, head back, the Cheshire grin still smiling in wonder as the home stands shook in excitement.

Next, on his way back to midfield, Landaverde stopped in front of Martin just long enough to embrace the first-year coach, high five a couple of team mates, and head back into the fray.

And it was a battle Thursday night, to be sure.

Bruised and batter players on both sides left the field. Some returned, like Vikings’ defender Brian Douglas, whose foot was stepped on late; after the match, Douglas laughed “For a few minutes, I couldn’t even feel my foot.”

Some were hobbled, with some limping noticeably, like the superb midfielder Mikey Andreski of Central, whose injured hip and chronic back problems left him laboring heroically through a long second half.

And some, like Micah van Yperen, who hurt his shoulder late, didn’t even make it to the end of the match, instead heading off to the hospital to check a shoulder hurt on a leaping save.

On many levels, it was a night of firsts.

“This was our first win against Central,” said Martin. “It was, to the best of my knowledge, our first win against a 2A team. And this is one of the only times we’ve had five wins at this point in the season.”

Several times, Martin called it a “brand new day” for the soccer team. But the season is still young. What do the Vikings do for an encore, to make sure what was accomplished Thursday is merely a foundation for even better things down the road?

“I’m going to keep pointing out to the guys that if we can beat Wilkes Central, we can play with anybody. I have the utmost respect for Wilkes Central. Even in their down years, even in the years they may feel haven’t been successful, those seasons would be fantastic for most teams,” said Martin. “Those are great kids over there. I know them, and I know the character of the players.

“And we’ve got good kids here, too, and a good team. What we want to do, what we want to build this into, is a good program, like they have at Wilkes Central,” added Martin.

Building a perennial soccer program at North Wilkes? Not long ago, that goal seemed too lofty to even consider, a long walk down a long road. But now, maybe, North Wilkes is ready to start down that road, and they can consider Thursday step one.

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