MILLERS CREEK — West Wilkes defended its home field on Monday night with a 45-35 victory over the visiting Ashe County Huskies.
While the scoreboard did not favor the Huskies, a team full of heavy hearts for the passing of a former teammate played hard for 48 minutes. Former standout defensive lineman and 2016 Ashe County High School graduate Luis Ramos was killed in a car accident on Sunday morning.
“Our guys kept fighting, that’s what we’re after. Hopefully they’re learning a little bit more than football. There’s more to this world than wins and losses and unfortunately it takes things like what happened this weekend to put things into perspective,” said Ashe County head coach Brian Hampton. “I’m proud of my guys and I love my guys.”
The Blackhawks jumped ahead quickly with a 60-yard touchdown run from Alex Ortiz on the first play from scrimmage.
It took the Huskies less than a minute to answer back.
Quarterback Colin Ellis scrambled for a 65-yard touchdown run. West Wilkes still held a 7-6 lead after Ashe’s extra point attempt was no good.
At the 6:08 mark of the first quarter, Ashe took a 12-7 lead with a 71-yard strike from Ellis to Dante Shuler.
This time it was the Blackhawks that had the answer in less than a minute. Quarterback Trenton Walsh found Jared Serbeck for a 48-yard touchdown pass and a 14-12 advantage.
The Huskies regained the lead with 4:39 left in the first quarter with Shuler reeling in a 37-yard pass from Ellis.
Trailing by a 19-14 score, Ortiz capped off a long scoring drive with a five-yard run with eight seconds left in the first quarter to put the Blackhawks back in front, 21-19.
In the second quarter, West Wilkes capitalized off of a Husky turnover and turned an interception into seven points. Noah Dancy scampered 28 yards for a touchdown and a 28-19 lead.
With just over one minute left until halftime, Ashe was able to put a final drive together to get three points. Ellis tossed a screen pass to Matthew Greer that picked up 25 yards to get the ball down inside the Blackhawk 30-yard line. A critical roughing the passer penalty on West Wilkes put the ball at the 10-yard line. Ashe had to settle for a field goal attempt from Shuler, a 26-yard kick that made the score 28-22 at the half.
The Huskies opened the third quarter with a 20-yard touchdown from Ellis to Grant Thompson, taking a 29-28 lead.
The Blackhawks had the answer yet again, this time on a 10-yard scoring run. West Wilkes carried a 35-29 lead to the fourth quarter.
West Wilkes was able to grind down the Ashe defense with a pair of long scoring drives that Ashe could not rally back from. Noah Triplett capped off a drive with a 33-yard field goal with 10:02 left in the game. After that, the final Blackhawk points of the night came on a four-yard run from Ortiz with 2:31 left in the game.
Ashe made it interesting late with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Ellis to Corbin Coldiron, but Ashe failed on the two-point conversion attempt and could not recover an onside kick.
Ashe dropped to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference.
West Wilkes improved to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in MVAC play.
It appeared Ashe lost yet another key player in the offense when Shuler left with an injury in the second half and did not return. The Huskies are already without Judd Price, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury.
“They (West Wilkes) could not cover Dante one on one, it was obvious when they went to double coverage, I didn’t think it mattered who they put on him. Dante is strong and as fast as anybody,” said Hampton. “You take away our top receiver in Judd, now we’re a little bit easier to defend. Then you take away Dante and we’re a lot easier to defend.”
Sophomore Kai Christoferson moved up to the varsity squad for this game and contributed some key catches and defensive plays in the secondary. His role may also expand if Shuler misses any time with his injury.
Even with the injuries and the youth up front (Ashe played four sophomores on the offensive line at times during the game) Colin Ellis still finds a way to get the ball down field for big plays with his arm and his legs.
“Colin keeps us in this game tonight. To me he’s the best player in this conference. His numbers might not show it at the end of the year because of people around him getting hurt, but he’s the reason we’re able to stay in the game,” said Hampton.
While Ashe continues to move the ball and find points, the defense is still a work in progress.
“Defensively, we’re just not in sync. Two or three guys will do great on a play but then three or four will forget their job and it just breaks down,” said Hampton. “Maybe I’ve got to do a better job of teaching things. My guys do exactly what their taught evidently I’m not doing my job.”
Ashe will try to get things turned around this Friday when the Huskies host East Wilkes. This Friday also marks Homecoming at Ashe County High School.
Forbush 39, South Stokes 37
West Caldwell 35, Maiden 12
Mount Airy 43, Winston-Salem Prep 8
North Surry 20, West Stokes 17
Hickory 40, South Caldwell 28
Hendersonville 66, Avery County 6
Mountain Heritage 44, Charles D. Owen 0
Wilkes Central 47, Starmount 18
Walkertown 42, East Surry 21
Watauga 45, Freedom 7
Hibriten 56, Fred T. Foard 7
Alexander Central 48, North Lincoln 7
Surry Central 7, Carver 6
North Wilkes 49, Alleghany 7
East Wilkes 56, Elkin 7
1. East Wilkes: 6-1, 3-0
2. Wilkes Central: 5-2, 3-0
3. West Wilkes: 5-2, 2-1
4. North Wilkes: 4-3, 2-1
5. Ashe County: 2-5, 1-2
6. Starmount: 1-6, 1-2
7. Alleghany: 4-3, 0-3
8. Elkin: 0-7, 0-3
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062.