WEST JEFFERSON — The high school football season is flying by for teams across the state. Ashe County is already down to its final home game of the season.
This Friday, Ashe County will play host to a resurgent North Wilkes team that has just one conference loss and is hoping to keep pace with the two unbeaten front-runners, Wilkes Central and East Wilkes.
“They (North Wilkes) are a Wing-T team, we have a little idea of what we’re going to see but won’t be for sure until we line up,” said Ashe County head coach Brian Hampton. “They’re a power running team and if you fall asleep, they’ll hit you with a big play action pass.”
Hampton also complimented the line play of the Vikings, saying that they fire off the ball really well up front.
“They’re a well-coached team that has been scoring a bunch of points,” he added.
Ashe has had to deal with so many injury concerns this season, forcing the team to use a lot of inexperienced underclassmen. While it’s certainly a big blow to lose some of those senior leaders, it does give players a chance to get their feet wet at the varsity level.
“We’ve had to have guys step up and play at positions they might have played just one or two days at practice, depending on the situations. It has forced us to shuffle some things around,” Hampton said. “Guys have had to learn multiple positions, which could be a good thing going forward. Hopefully we can get rolling here and maybe get a couple of guys back and try to get three wins here at the end of the year.”
If the Huskies could pull that off down the stretch and win the final three games of the regular season, Ashe would most likely be able to continue its string of consecutive seasons with a playoff appearance. The Huskies have made the playoffs each year for the last 13 seasons, dating back to the Huskies’ first ever playoff appearance in 2003.
This is also a big night for the senior athletes that are playing in their final home game. It’s an emotional night for the players and their parents and hard to say goodbye to the field that many of these kids have spent Thursday and Friday nights on for the last four years.
“This senior class has meant a lot to the program. At least a couple of them have played up since their sophomore years. They’ve done a lot of good things, they’ve been the core of our offense and defense,” said Hampton. “When they’re healthy, we’ve played well, when they’re not, we’ve struggled. It’s always a tough night with the last home game for the seniors.”
The Vikings will roll into West Jefferson hoping to play spoiler. North Wilkes is currently 5-3 overall and riding a three-game conference winning streak. The Vikings beat Elkin on Sept. 30, 28-9, then followed that up with a road win at Alleghany, 49-7, and a home blowout win over Starmount, 49-20.
The only blemish on the Vikings’ conference record is the conference opener loss at East Wilkes, 28-7.
One thing going against the North Wilkes squad could be the even bigger contests coming up in the next two weeks against county rivals. The Vikings have a date with West Wilkes on Oct. 28 and their own Senior Night against rival Wilkes Central on Nov. 4. If North gets caught looking ahead, the Huskies most definitely have the ability to hand the visiting team a loss.
Kickoff from Ashe County High School will be at 7:30 p.m. Senior players and cheerleaders will be honored prior to kickoff.
Mooresville at Alexander Central
Madison at Avery County
Starmount at East Wilkes
Wilkes Central at Elkin
Carver at Forbush
East Surry at Bishop McGuinness
Freedom at Hibriten
Mountain Heritage at Mitchell County
West Stokes at South Stokes
South Caldwell at St. Stephens
North Surry at Surry Central
Patton at Watauga
East Lincoln at West Caldwell
Alleghany at West Wilkes
Mount Airy at Atkins
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062.