RONDA — The 2017 regular season for football has come to a close and teams around the area put on a show on Friday night. One game that had everyone’s attention was Wilkes Central at East Wilkes. The Eagles and the Cardinals always bring the best out in each other. Friday night’s game was full of tension on both sides, but it was Wilkes Central who was able to come out strong to take a 37-13 win over East Wilkes.
The Cardinals were coming off of an upset 53-52 loss over Elkin last week and were looking to turn things around against the Eagles to close out the regular season. Things immediately went Wilkes Central’s way from the opening minute until the final whistle. The Eagles had the speed to get to the edge and take the ball down the field where the speed played a factor into the final score.
On East Wilkes’ first drive, the Eagles came out strong to force a turnover on downs. The Cardinals went for it on fourth-and-three, but came up just short as Mason Hartley was taken down half of a yard off of the first-down marker. The turnover lead to a Wilkes Central touchdown as it took the Eagles three plays to find the end zone. Wilkes Central went for the two-point conversion, but it was no good.
Being down 6-0 early in the first quarter, the Cardinals tried to turn things around on their next drive. Bryce Vestal pitched the ball out to Deven Couch who picked up two yards for a second-and-eight play. The next two plays turned into a loss of yards as Wilkes Central’s defense came up strong once again to stop the Cardinals in their tracks. East Wilkes was forced to punt the ball, and Jaylin Salters made it count. Salters punted the ball to the three-yard line and the Eagles took over for their next drive.
The Wilkes Central offensive put the Cardinals’ defense through the ringer as the Eagles were able to break tackles easily to gain yardage down the field. East Wilkes couldn’t catch a break as the Eagles went down the field for a 97-yard drive that ended with a touchdown. Wilkes Central was able to take a 14-0 lead with less than three minutes left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Wilkes Central put up another touchdown to make the score 21-0. East Wilkes came close to scoring, but the Cardinals turned the ball over on downs at the 22-yard line. On the last East Wilkes drive of the second quarter, the Cardinals were able to drive down the field but once again turned the ball over on downs at the 17-yard line. At halftime, Wilkes Central was hanging on to a 21-0 lead over East Wilkes.
East Wilkes was able to score two touchdowns in the final two quarters. With 6:33 left in the third quarter, East Wilkes put up its first touchdown of the night. Vestal ran in with the quarterback sneak from the one-yard line to put six points on the board for the Cardinals. The two-point conversion was no good, but East Wilkes was on the board. In the fourth quarter, East Wilkes put up another touchdown. The Cardinals drove down the field to score a late touchdown to make the score 37-13. Wilkes Central was able to see the rest of the game out to take the win over East Wilkes.
This win was Wilkes Central’s first win in Ronda since 2010, and saw the Eagles win the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference with a 7-0 record. East Wilkes ends the regular season with a 9-2 overall record, and the Cardinals placed second in the MVAC with a 5-2 record. The NCHSAA playoff brackets were released on Saturday, East Wilkes earned a second seed and has a first-round bye.