RONDA — Following a 48-14 win Friday night over South Robeson, you can rest assured that many eyes will be on the East Wilkes Cardinals as they get set for the second round of the 1AA Football State Championship.
That’s because both the Starmount Rams and Forbush Falcons could not muster upset wins on the road, while so long as they keep winning, the Cardinals’ road to the championship stays in Ronda. Forbush lost 55-7 to Monroe, while in Starmount’s 41-20 loss to Swain County, the Rams couldn’t get the run going until it was too late.
Swain County is East Wilkes’ next opponent, and while Cardinals Head Coach JK Adkins is well aware of the history between the two teams, he wants to keep what he calls the hunter mentality.
“I think when people look at our bracket, they’ll look at a Swain County or an East Surry or someone else that is a perennial power that’s made it through in history. I don’t know that we get the respect that we deserve,” Adkins said.
Without a doubt, East Wilkes has already made history this year, but as far as the team’s concerned, there are plenty of chapters left to be written.
“There’ll be a time for enjoyment when we can look back and dwell on what we’ve accomplished, but it’s not right now,” Adkins said.
“This isn’t the same team that it was two years ago. We expect to win now. We changed the expectations, and that was the plan all along,” junior Andrew Elmore said. “To change the whole mentality.”
South Robeson came out early and caught a jump ball and ran in it for a touchdown against junior Joah Logan, who had an interception in the three weeks prior. Following that, the first-string defense didn’t let them get close to the end zone again the entire night. Logan earned redemption on a touchdown reception, and intercepted a pass towards the end of the first half for the fourth straight week.
It didn’t take long for East Wilkes to get on the board for their first drive. After South Robeson scored on the opening drive, it took the Cardinals just more than two minutes to come right back and get the lead for good. Following an 18-yard touchdown run by Andrew Nance, Camon Bryan, Billy Mullis and Deven Couch all added rushing touchdowns in the blowout win.
“With a team that’s a 16 seed, even though they are a 16 seed, you can’t overlook them. You always have to keep the fire going no matter the score,” Bryan said.
For a more in-depth preview of this coming Friday’s matchup between East Wilkes and Swain County, be sure to check elkintribune.com later in the week, and physical copies Friday morning.
Ryan DeCosta can be reached at 336-258-4052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.