Armanti Edwards wins Walter Payton Award

Courtesy: Appalachian Sports Information Release: 12/18/2008

QB Armanti Edwards

QB Armanti Edwards

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Junior quarterback Armanti Edwards became the first Appalachian State University player to ever win the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision’s top honor when he was presented with the Walter Payton Award on Thursday evening at the Chattanooga Marriott. The Payton Award has been presented annually to the nation’s top FCS (formerly Division I-AA) player since 1987.

Edwards easily out-distanced James Madison quarterback Rodney Landers for the award with 398 total points and 53 first-place votes, compared to 290 points and 17 first-place nods for the JMU signal-caller. Western Illinois running back Herb Donaldson finished third with 209 points and 14 first-place votes. Edwards is only the sixth underclassman in the 22-year history of the Payton Award to receive the honor.

The consensus first-team All-American and Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year finished the season with 2,902 passing yards, 941 rushing yards and a SoCon-record 41 touchdowns responsible for (30 passing, 11 rushing). He ranks second nationally with a 170.19 pass-efficiency rating, seventh with 3,033 yards of total offense and 58th in rushing.

He threw only two interceptions in 224 regular-season pass attempts, with a school-record string of 176 passes without an interception that spanned over two months — eight full games and parts of two others.

In addition to the season-long accolades, Edwards earned national player of the week recognition twice, SoCon Offensive Player of the Week accolades four times — including a record-tying three-straight from Oct. 4-18 — and SoCon Offensive Player of the Month awards in October and November.

The previous best finish by a Mountaineer in Payton Award balloting came in 2004, when wide receiver DaVon Fowlkes placed third.

In the other awards handed out on Thursday, ASU defensive back Mark LeGree finished third in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, presented to the nation’s top FCS defensive player, with 183 total points and seven first-place votes. Eastern Washington’s Greg Peach won the award.

Head coach Jerry Moore placed fourth in voting for the Eddie Robinson Award, presented to the nation’s top FCS coach, with 11 first-place votes and 160 points. James Madison coach Mickey Matthews took home the honor.


Avery Swept by Watauga Monday Night

Allison Vance leading the break for the Lady Vikings

Allison Vance leading the break for the Lady Vikings

The Avery Viking Basketball teams were unable to notch one in the win column Monday night, losing 4 to Watauga in Newland.  It wasn’t for lack of trying, however, as the Vikings got some great efforts from key players; but the Pioneers would prove to be too much for the Vikings.

The JV girls got things underway, falling in a heart breaker, 60-49, to kick off the evening.  Mercedes Bentley would lead the way for the Lady Viking JVs, scoring 32 of their 49 points in the loss.  That would set the tone for the evening, great performances on both sides of the ball, from both teams…but for the Vikings it would not be in victorious manner.  The JV boys would face the same fate as the girls, falling in a contest in which they were just out matched in every facet of their game.

The Varsity Girls would take the floor, and it would be evident from the beginning that a challenge was in store.  The Lady Vikings knew that they would receive a tough test inside from Nicole Tesh, but what they didn’t expect would be the output of Katherine Mayhew, who would put up 14 points in the first half for the Lady Pioneers.  The Lady Vikes traded the lead with the Lady Pioneers during the first period of play, and at the end would trail by one, 17-16.  In the second quarter of play Mayhew would score 8 of her 14, leading the Lady Pioneers to a 38-30 lead at the halftime break.  Avery would come out of the locker room on fire, doubling up the Watauga effort 16-8, riding 8 points from Samantha Shook, and tie the game heading to the final stanza of play.  The fourth quarter was where Watauga would find their groove, and pull away from the Lady Vikings en route to a 69-59 victory over Avery.  Defensively in the second half Avery would do a good job to stop Mayhew, holding her scoreless; but were unable to stop Tesh, as she would take advantage of the extra attention needed to stop Mayhew, scoring 10 of her 17 in the fourth stanza. Shook would lead the way for the Lady Vikes with 17, 11 of which were in the second half.  Allison Vance would also contribute in a huge way to the Avery effort, with 10 points, 2 steals and 5 assists for the Lady Vikes.  Katelynn Eudy and Katie Ellis would each add 7 points for Avery, as Ellis again reached double figures in rebounds with 11.  Avery’s girls have nothing to hang their head about in the effort though, as they would battle all night against a tough Watauga team.  The loss takes Avery to 3-2 on the season.

Joey Potter going up for 2 against Watauga (Holly Barker Photo)

Joey Potter going up for 2 against Watauga (Holly Barker Photo)

The Viking men would come out strong, jumping out to a 4-0 lead on the Pioneers…however, that would be all they could muster, as Watauga would end the first quarter in dominating fashion with a 20-4 run, using 4 big baskets from Jeff Newell, two of which were slams.  Newell would continue to lead the Pioneers in the second stanza, opening the scoring with his 3rd slam of the night, and leading Watauga with 12 in the half.  The Pioneers would use those 12 points, and a balanced attack from the rest of the team to build a 43-22 lead at the half, and would continue to dominate the second half as well.  They would come out strong in the third quarter of play, as Newell would double his effort during the third, scoring 12 and taking his total to 24 on the night.  Keeping pace with Newell would be Dustin Clarke, who would find himself with 22 by the end of the third, but would find his Viking team trailing 69-37 at the end of three.  The Vikings would outscore Watauga 22-21 in the fourth period of play, but it was too little too late, as the Pioneers would take the victory 90-59.  Clarke’s 22 would lead the way for the Vikings, who also received 16 from Jared Ward, who would score 11 of those in the 4th.  Avery drops to 1-4 on the season.

The Vikings take it to the road, traveling to Boone on Wednesday  night to take on these same Pioneers.  They will then return home on Friday to take on the Patton Panthers.  The JV girls will get action underway each evening, game time will be 4 PM for both dates.

Avery Parks and Recreation Offering Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Skills Challenge This Weekend

skillsweblogoAvery County Parks and Recreation is pleased to announce its affiliation with the NBA and the Charlotte Bobcats. For the 2009 season both the Bo Kilgore and Avery Youth Sports basketball leagues are co-sponsored by the Bobcats and the NBA.

This Saturday, December 20, we will kick off our season with a free youth skills competition at the Rock Gym in Newland beginning at 10 AM. The Jr. NBA/Jr.WNBA Skills Challenge is sponsored by Singulair. NBA Skills Challenge is a free opportunity for local boys and girls to showcase their excellence in the core basketball skills of shooting, dribbling, and passing. The Skills Challenge is also intended to encourage youth participation in sport while promoting sportsmanship.

Local youngsters between the ages of 9 and 14 will have the opportunity to compete. Boys and girls will compete separately, but within their age groups. We also invite interested 8 year olds to come out and compete. Ribbons will be awarded to individual champions as well as to the second and third place finishers in each division.

There is no cost, but participants need to bring a copy of their birth certificates and parents will need to complete a registration/waiver form prior to starting the event. Event time is 10 AM, and the gym will open at 9:30 for pre registration. The competition will end after the last child is allowed to complete the event.

All champions from the Local Competition have the opportunity to advance to one (1) of 35 Regional Competitions occurring across the country in early 2009. The National Finals will be held in Orlando, Florida.

For questions concerning this competition, please contact Avery County Parks and Recreation at 733-8266. For more information on the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA program, please visit

Robbie Willis, APRD

Lady Panthers Fall to East Yancey in Conference Championship

Brooke Rhodes Drives to the Basket against East Yancey Saturday Night

Brooke Rhodes Drives to the Basket against East Yancey Saturday Night

On Saturday night, the Avery Middle Lady Panthers traveled down to Bowman Middle School to take on the East Yancey Lady Panthers in the Toe River Conference Tournament Champoinship.  Anticipation was high as the game started with the two having split earlier in the season, each winning on their own home floor.

Avery Middle would get to the finals by defeating Harris on Thursday night 33-26, and East Yancey defeated in county foe, Cane River, 36-22.

From the opening tip the game was full of conact, as it looked more like a hockey match at times with the hitting that was going on.  East Yancey would jump out early on 7 points from Taylor Parker, and 6 from Kaylon Johnson, to a 17-7 lead after the first quarter.  Parker would add 6 more in the second quarter, and her 13 points in the first half would lead East Yancey to a 28-16 lead at the break.  She wasn’t done as she would score 10 more in the second half and end the game with 23 points for the Lady Panthers from Yancey.  With a performance like that, and defensive pressure that they would apply all game long, the girls from Avery just couldn’t get anything going.  Kelsie Clarke did what she could, scoring 12 for Avery, but it wasn’t enough as the East Yancey Lady Panthers would walk out of Bakersville tonight with a 46-32 victory.

Both teams from Cranberry would lose tough battles on Wednesday night, the girls losing to Harris, and the boys falling to Cane River.  The Avery Middle boys would win their first round match up against Bowman, but fall to East Yancey on Thursday evening.

Congratulations to all our Middle School teams on their seasons, and to the Lady Panthers for their Regular Season Conference Championship.

Vikings Finish Week With 1st Victory of Season

Joey Potter goes up for 2 in second half against TJCA

Joey Potter goes up for 2 in second half against TJCA

The Avery Vikings wrapped up the week with their first victory of the season defeating the Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy by a score of 67-39, following their 60-48 loss on Thursday night at Patton.

Thursday night the Vikings just couldn’t seem to buy a basket early in the game, as Patton jumped out quickly, and never looked back.  Patton led 13-8 at the end of the first quarter, and had stretched it to a 33-18 lead by halftime.  The Vikings just didn’t seem to have an answer for Nick Holland and the Patton Panthers.  Holland would drop in 17 points for the Panthers, and it just didn’t seem that he or the Patton offense would be stopped.  The Vikings would make it interesting in the waning moments of the game, however, as Dustin Clarke would score 10 of his 21 in a fourth quarter comeback effort for the Vikings that would pull them within 4 points; but they wouldn’t have enough to overcome the Panthers.  Along with Clarke’s 21, Colton Blackburn would add 9 and Luke Pittman 7, but the Vikings would come up short, falling 60-48.

The Vikings would then take their 0-3 record into Friday night’s action, looking to get one in the win column against the Gryphons from Thomas Jefferson.  The Vikings, who haven’t been able to buy a basket this season, started out in much the same way the Lady Vikes did, getting out to a quick lead, but struggling to put away the Gryphons in the first quarter.  They would pull away some in the second quarter and take a 34-21 lead into the locker room at the half.  Pittman would lead the charge for the Vikings out of the break, and put in 9 of his 11 in the third quarter, as the Vikings would outscore the Gryphons 23-6 in the period.  They would be outscored by the team from TJCA in the fourth, but it was too little, too late, as the Vikings ended the game with thier first victory of the season defeating the Gryphons 67-39. Along with Pittman’s 11, Clarke added 14 points and 3 assists, and Sandrae Smith would add 8 in the Viking victory.

The Vikings will play two games against rival Watauga next week, facing them Monday and Wednesday, with Monday’s game in Newland, and Wednesday’s in Boone.  They will return home to wrap up another busy week  on Friday to take on the Patton Panthers.

Lady Vikings Wrap up Busy Week with 2 Wins

Allison Vance bringing the ball down court against Patton on Thursday Night

Allison Vance bringing the ball down court against Patton on Thursday Night

The Avery Lady Vikings wrapped up a busy week of action with two more victories taking their overall record to 3-1 for the season.  Thursday night at Patton the Lady Vikes walked out of Morganton with a 61-37 victory over the Patton Lady Panthers.  They followed that up with a 62-36 victory over the Lady Gryphons of Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy on Friday evening.

Thursday night in Morganton, the Lady Vikings found their groove early, jumping out a quick 11 – 2 lead, but the Lady Panthers would catch fire and end the quarter on a 8 – 2 run ending the quarter with the Lady Vikes only up 13-10.  The Lady Panthers would give the Lady Vikes a tough test in the first half, and Avery would ride a 9 point effort from Katelynn Eudy into the locker room, leading it 29-23 at the half.  Patton would turn up the defense on Eudy, holding her to just 2 points in the second half, but a balanced attack from Avery would settle the score, and a tough defense would hold the Lady Panthers to just 14 points in the second half.  Eudy would lead the Vikings with 11 points and 14 rebounds, while Katie Ellis would add 11 of her own, and also pull down 10 rebounds in the victory.  Samantha Shook and Megan Tennant would add 9 points for the Lady Vikings.

They would return to the hardwood on Friday night, taking on the TJCA Lady Gryphons at Avery High.  It wasn’t even a contest as the Avery girls jumped out early to an 11-0 lead before TJ’s girls got on the board; and they would not look back.  After the first quarter the Lady Vikes led 22-6.  The Lady Gryphons would outscore the Lady Vikings in the second quarter 14-13, and cut the deficit to 15 at the half.  The Lady Vikings would prove to be too strong in the second half, as they would pour it on defensivly in the third, holding the Lady Gryphons to just 5 points, and jumping out to a 21 point lead heading into the fourth quarter.  They would wrap up the game out scoring the TJ girls 16-11 in the final period, taking them to a 62-36 victory.  Leading the way for the Lady Vikes was Ellis, who would pour in 15 points and pull down 12 rebounds, along with 3 steals and 2 blocks on the night.  Lauren Avery and Eudy would add 9 points each, with Elyse Perry and Shook adding 7.

The Lady Vikings will be in action 3 more times this week, opening the week at home against the Lady Pioneers from Watauga, then traveling to Boone to wrap up a home and home (make up game postponed by weather from Nov. 25), and wrapping up the week at home with a rematch against the Lady Panthers from Patton.  The JV girls will get things underway each evening, gametime will be 4 PM.

Vikings Open Conference Play at Owen

Colton Blackburn goes for two of his five points on the evening

Colton Blackburn goes for two of his five points on the evening

The Avery Viking basketball teams opened conference play on the road in Swannanoa Tuesday night winning 3 of 4 against the Owen Warhorses.

The JV girls got things started with a 44-29 victory over the JV Warlassies riding the double digit performances from Mercedes Bentley, 17, and Megan Tennant, 15.  It was well played game from the Lady Vikings, who seemed to control the game from the opening tip, and picked up their 3rd victory of the season, taking their record to 3-1, following their victories at the Ashe JV tournament over the Thanksgiving weekend; and recovering from their 10 point loss at home to the Ashe Lady Huskies.  The JV Boys continued the winning on the evening with a very balanced effort from the team in what became a defensive battle with the JV Warhorses.  Spencer Blackburn and Benji Stewart led the Vikings with 7 points each.

The Lady Viking varsity squad would continue the streak with a 64-50 victory in a very physical contest with the Owen Warlassies.  Katelynn Eudy would pour in 20 points and grab 10 rebounds to lead the Lady Vikes, who also recieved a stellar performance from Katie Ellis who added 10 points, 6 rebounds, 7 steals and a block.  The Lady Vikings came out of the blocks quickly putting 6 quick points on the board, and jumping out to a 21-9 lead early in the contest.  The Lady Vikes improve their record to 1-1 on the season, recovering from the 65-50 loss to Ashe just days earlier.

The Varsity Boys were unable to secure a victory, falling 57-43 in another physically challenging game that saw many bodies hitting the floor.  Dustin Clarke would lead the way for the Vikings with 17 points, with Luke Pittman adding 13 of his own; but it would not be enough to overcome Warhorses on the evening.  The Vikings fall to 0-2 on the season.

Avery’s teams will travel to Patton High School to take on the Panthers on Thursday evening, with the JV girls getting things started at 4 PM.  They will then bring things back to their house on Friday for a Varsity only match-up with the Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy with the girls action getting underway at 6 PM.