This Friday is a big night in Wilkes County. It is the renewal of a dogfight, and the fire is set to be ignited at Wilkes Central when the Blackhawks come in to face the Eagles.
Yes, I’m homeschooled. But there’s nothing more enjoyable than the Friday Night Lights, and this is the must-see when it comes to Wilkes County sports games. That fire I just mentioned? You can smell the smoke rise in the cool air as the hot tempers flare. For many days in a school year, West and Central kids get along well. However, when rivalry week comes around, all bets are off. Just ask the cow in West’s field last year, and the foul graffiti displayed. But before you can pull off these memorable pranks, you must make sure the best memories are created on the gridiron.
Many may be reading this from Wilkes County, but I serve an audience from Canada, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and most of all, Texas! You know Texas people do high school football right, but now it’s time to display what Wilkes can do. People have to be aware that West and Central is one of the more classic rivalries around, and there is a lot on the line, but mostly, bragging rights.
I’ve dug, and I’ve also had a lot of help from people to gather some more information on this rivalry, and probably let a student-athlete learn something new from something they find enjoyable (notice the shot at classes that make you read awful books), and one may learn something new from this article.
I wanted to see the history, and dating back to the 2004 season, Wilkes Central has won 9 of the 11 meetings, with 8-consecutive victories over West Wilkes. West strung together back-to-back wins in 2005 (12-6) and 2006 (21-14).
The Eagles have outscored the Blackhawks during this rivalry, 320-114. This makes the average score of the games 29-10. Just imagine!
So the outsider is probably wondering why one should even care about this rivalry. It looks like it’s been one-sided, but if they know football, they know that rivalries are so unpredictable, any team can take it! Also, this is school athletics we’re talking about here. The kids playing in 2011 when the Wilkes Central Eagles won 34-0, they’ve graduated and moved on. Anything could happen Friday when the two teams take the field.
So who can we expect to see on Friday? We can expect to see the undefeated (4-0) Wilkes Central Eagles versus the (2-2) West Wilkes Blackhawks! Two teams who needed overtime to defeat a common enemy in North Iredell.
Last year, it was JoJo Horton to Jordan James that made it miserable in Blackhawk country, as the Eagles rose with a 42-6 victory. Now it may just be Andrew Bynum and his historic season on the ground. Bynum has already totaled over 1000 rushing yards, and we aren’t even done with September yet! After averaging over 250 yards per game and already greeting the endzone 14 times this season, my bet is he’s the big man on campus. Even with these mindblowing numbers, I imagine he’d point to the five big men in front of him making it all happen.
I hope he doesn’t mind, but to make this article possible, I had to talk to people inside. My buddy Will Jarvis, also the stud linebacker who led Central in tackles last season, was quoted saying, “Credit the o-line, please. Never do they get credit.”
Will Jarvis, back in 8th grade, broke the author’s collarbone in the first day of padded practice, sidelining him the rest of the Seratoma season. Davis then spent his time in the “Waterboy” role.
What Will Jarvis says is 100% true. Many should applaud Bynum for this amazing season, but the game is won and lost in the trenches. A running back’s success heavily depends on his offensive line (ask DeMarco Murray how he’s doing by leaving the Dallas Cowboys offensive line to Philadelphia’s). So from left to right, Ezequiel Gonzalez, Dedric Smith, Phillip Lambert, Austin Call, and Hunter Shepherd, we recognize you, and we commend you for your work up front!
Before we leave the Central offense, many should look at Wilkes Central quarterback Dalton Combs. JoJo Horton was able to burn the West secondary last year, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Dalton Combs doesn’t have his chance to do the same. I’ve had the privilege of watching both of these quarterbacks back in middle school (I was in public school at the time), and their former coach Nick Reece speaks highly of the two. I remember the days he couldn’t quite figure out who he wanted, so he played both!
West Wilkes has a tough task, but they can come in as the underdogs and pull up the upset. They’ll need running back Chandler Caudill to do so, who had some sparks in last year’s meeting. Also in their arsenal in the backfield, Cody Call, who has 6 touchdowns this season, two short of Caudill’s total. A healthy balance between the running back and quarterback Trenton Walsh could help tremendously in keeping the Central defense on their heels. 5’8” JC Dickson could be a great weapon for Walsh to utilize against the Eagles.
I have a confession to make. I’m a personal fan of the passing game at the high school levels! I may not see that this week, as Central runs the ball nearly 75% of the time, and West chooses to run the ball over 82% of the time! I don’t know if this means a team is going to focus on killing the run game for either side, or if they’ll put more focus on the offensive side and try to still the air. Either way, a lot of strategy and motivation has to come into a game like this!
West Wilkes must have a strong defense this week and be motivated to be the team to stop Andrew Bynum and this Central attack, if they have a glimmer of hope on ending Central’s win streak.
Should be a great game with an even better atmosphere. You don’t want to miss it!
But please players, this time, don’t choose to start a fight in garbage time.