Two struggling football seasons are a part of North Stokes past as the program gears up to host Union Academy this Friday night in the first round of the NCHSAA 1A state playoffs.
“Our team has evolved from a team that thought they could win, into a team that knows they can win,” said North coach Mitch Reeves. “The top of our conference is really good, but with exception to those three teams, we were competitive with everyone else and are happy to finish the regular season with six wins.”
In Friday night’s game, North crushed Atkins 48-6.
Reeves said his team was physical up front on both sides and found success running the ball on offense.
North’s defense only gave up one score when they fumbled a snap, giving the Camel’s strong field position.
Senior Josh Manuel put his team on the board scoring on an 18-yard pass and then later returned an interception for a 32-yard touchdown.
Andrew Lankford finished the last game of the regular season with two rushing touchdowns and tallied 141 yards on 12 carries.
The Vikings are ranked fourth in the competitive 1A Northwest conference. Undefeated East Surry (11-0) is set to host Bessemer City (4-7) at home. Mount Airy (7-4) travels to Whiteville (8-3), and Walkertown (6-5) is on the road to Mooresville Pine Lake Prep (10-1).
“We’re in a tough conference and I believe this will show throughout the playoffs. I think the three teams that finished above us will do well in the 1AA playoffs. We’re definitely battle tested and we hope to represent our league well and make a run,” Reeves said.
Four years ago North traveled to East Columbus, but failed to make it to the second round. The last time the Vikings hosted a playoff game was in 2010 when they defeated South Stanley 12-0.
“Union Academy is a quality team with athletes at key positions. They played some strong teams this year and we expect them to be a tough test for us,” Reeves said.
The Vikings bring more to the field this season than in years past. Senior Blake Williams leads his team in scoring with seven touchdowns, 121 carries, and 577 yards. Lankford’s scored five times and tallied 478 yards. On defense, Josh Manuel and Dalton Sawyers have racked up over 100 tackles each. Chase Vaden leaped for his ninth interception in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game against the Camels.
North also brings a healthy dose of confidence to their first playoff game in four years.
“We’re a much more disciplined team than last year, but we need to keep working on that each week. We feel we’re a quality 1A football team and we hope our season can last a little longer,” Reeves said.
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.