Under the ‘Friday Night Lights’ of the newly dedicated Keith Gore Stadium, the Sauras found themselves knowing that the North Wilkes Vikings represented an opponent within their grasps. The Coaching staff prepared the team for this week’s challenge with personnel shifts and a logical game plan that should have produced victory for this young and undeveloped team. South Stokes traveled to Rhonda for their first game with East Wilkes that resulted in a 34-0 loss. “We kept fighting and didn’t give up”, Coach Frazer cited in reflecting “we learned a lot and will get better from this loss.” In discussing the pending game with North Wilkes, “Keelan Goodwin, he didn’t have a good game Friday and he needs to bounce back and be a leader this week”. On a good note, “Robbie Hennelly, easily had the best game for us on ‘O’ and ‘D’ line last Friday…he can be a force.”
“It doesn’t matter what happened last play, last half, last game. You can only take care of now, and right now you can get better” Coach Jonathan Frazer proclaimed. The unique gift that Frazer brings to South Stokes is a comprehensive awareness of his team and the players. His current team has five players of the starting six that didn’t even see action last year.
On the second play from scrimmage, Dylan Bauguess of North Wilkes would hand the ball to Jarrett Grimes, who would collect key blocks from David Wood, Dalton Hall, and Daniel Pruitt which opened the outside lane and would produce a _ _ yard touchdown. The Vikings drew first blood, the Sauras would have their first test on this perfect evening of football. On the ensuing kick off Keelan Goodwin would receive and set up a right side return, after observing the North special team shift he reversed fields and with state champion track speed found a seam through a sea of defenders and scored the first South Stokes touchdown of the season.
The Keelan Goodwin kickoff return was electrifying, but the North Wilkes Coaching staff immediately recognized that this would not happen again. All remaining kick-offs would be placed to the up receivers away from the dangerous hands and feet of Goodwin. The stage was set for the rest of the evening South-Goodwin versus North-Grimes. The South defense was very athletic and was able to penetrate the North offense at random; yet time and time again good penetration on the quarterback and backfield would not deliver the intended result. It became obvious that poor tackling would plague the Sauras, “We are a very young team…most of these kids have a football IQ of a little leaguer because they have never played before or haven’t played since little league,” explained Frazer. ”Out of 14 seniors only six are returning….the other eight fall under the category above. We have to keep drilling the basics…which we are doing…it’s frustrating…..we are as basic as one could get and still misalign. We will get better but it’s gonna take time.”
The Vikings exploited an obvious right side ability to power Grimes for ground yardage throughout the evening.Grimes ground game was a major factor for the Viking victory, but the key component to the Sauras losing the game was mistakes. “You can’t win when you have over 100 yards of penalties and five turnovers. Sometimes we were there and didn’t tackle, but that’s a reflection of me. I’m doing all that I can and we are staying as basic as we can. We go over ball handling drills every day, we go over lining up every day we just have to keep doing it” the coach concluded.
On the defensive end, Ozzy Polifka was constantly managing double teams which many times created Robbie Hennelly quick penetration opportunities and short yardage tackles for Cody Hobert. Despite the inability to contain Grimes, the defensive secondary did a very good job shutting down the Viking air assault. Leadership and key plays by Josh Patane, Tanner Moore, and Dre Tanner confounded Dylan Bauguess by air and the Viking staff was forced back to the ground game. Hennelly with his persistence and strength continues to delight coaches with his on the field performance.
South continues to get quality game results from Michal Phillips on both offense and defense which could in the end be a valuable unforeseen weapon in the future. All opposing teams will obviously key on Goodwin as the offensive threat, but this tandem working in conjunction with an improving Moorefield could pay dividends as the week’s progress. As you watch Moorefield run the South offense it is hard to believe that he has never played the position of quarterback and hasn’t played football since little league. He is poised and mature, determined and committed and all coaches agree that he is a competitor. Studying game film will help him correct mistakes, more reps at the position will aide him in correctly reading routes, and making technique adjustments will give him confidence as these mistakes are turned to success.
During the half-time, Saura Field officially became The Keith Core Stadium as the 30 year South Stokes coach and mentor was recognized in an emotional ceremony. In the second half the Sauras came out of the locker room and vehemently marched down the field, it was obvious the momentum had shifted to the Sauras. Frazer said, “The thing was it wasn’t even an adjustment they just started doing what we had practiced all week which was shifting to their overload, well we did it most of the time in the 2nd half.” In the end, South’s inability to control mistakes would cost them this game 33-21. Outside the locker room one parent in conversation, “we finally got on the board and they know they can do it….just got to keep it up” the Saura supporter said with a smile. Coach Frazer was proud that with all of the negative things that happened before the game and during the game, that his players never gave up. It would seem that Saura support does not waiver, they are in it to beat North Stokes.
The Vikings will march to South Stokes with a 2-0 record its’ best start in years.