The Eagles and Cardinals will meet up for the first time this season, in what has been nothing short of outstanding for both teams so far. The 9-1 Wilkes Central Eagles go into Ronda to play the unbeaten 9-0 East Wilkes Cardinals, in what is sure to be two powerhouse teams with major playoff implications, but bragging rights as well.
This rivalry has been lopsided to the Eagles, wining 8 of the 11 matchups. The three games that East took home, two were the first couple of years (38-27 in 2004; 49-0 in 2005). The other was Coach Funderburk’s final season with the Eagles, losing 29-21 back in 2013. In these eleven games, Central has outscored East 360-226. That’s an average 32.7 points per game for the Eagles, 20.5 for the Cards.
Each team will be equipped with such a big task in silencing the weaponry for the opposing side.
We all know what Wilkes Central’s been capable of this season offensively, housing the best quarterback (Dalton Combs) and running back (Andrew Bynum) of the county. Bynum’s not seeming to slow down, as he’s nearly eclipsed 2,000 yards rushing this year, while Combs is finding easier matchups on the outside due to the running attack being such a success.
On East’s side, they just came off a big game at Starmount in WXII’s featured game of the week, where they went to Boonville and won 28-21. This was on the back of quarterback Bryce Vestal and Jared Wood, who Central is going to have to find answers for.
I personally want to highlight two players on each squad, and I’ll begin with East’s Alec Anderson.. Does that ring a bell, for any of the Central students? That is a former Central student, who I had the honor of watching play back in 2011 for the Sertoma league. This year, he’ll be suiting up as a safety for the in-county rival Cardinals. Any time you play your former team, your former school, you get the extra motivation and incentive to go on the field and perform at your very best. I’m expecting Alec to have a very big game, if he can channel his emotions. I’m sure he’s kept a close eye on what Central’s been able to do with his former teammates, and it should be fun to see if he can be the X-Factor.
The other Cardinal, is fullback Camon Bryan. He’s listed at about 6-foot-4, weighing in the 222-pound range. I’m concerned for Central, because Central’s not the biggest and most physical ball team I’ve ever seen, and they had a task against Ashe County who were big boys, and they got handed a 35-7 loss by the oversized Huskies on the road, their only L on the season. Bryan would need to get the ball often, especially on short yardage situations, and try to use the unfair advantage of size against the Eagles.
For the Eagles, I’m putting the spotlight on someone I’ve already mentioned, Andrew Bynum. There is no doubt in my mind he’s the best running back Central’s had in quite some time. No disrespect to who Bynum has had the tough task of following them up, but it’s safe to say he’s taken everything and not only ran with it, but ran to the endzone with it! Bynum’s speed will need to be used if they expect to blow by the Cardinals first line of defense on Friday night.
The fourth player I’d like to bring up is Central’s leading tackler from last season, Will Jarvis. Jarvis, playing linebacker for the 9-1 Eagles, is a close friend to Bynum, and he likes to break collarbones because the joke will never get old. Will needs to step up and have a big game against East, however. If he can make plays for his team to take the pressure off of buddy Bynum and that offense, it’ll make this game go a lot smoother for Coach Turner.
Wilkes Central won last year, 37-14, but that was in Moravian. When the Eagles go back to Cardinal territory, they will have to put away their cobwebs from 2013, where they lost at East, 29-21. But it’s been established by their records that these are two different teams from the past two years and a lot has changed. Emotions are going to be running high and each player on that field will want their conference crown, but who will want it the most come Friday night?
Comment below your predictions on this game! Who takes it, what will the score be, and who do you expect to have a BIG game on Hallow’s Eve?