Mission Accomplished: Black Hawks Down

Alex Villanueva led the Vikings with 465 yards of total offense on Friday night against the Black Hawks. (Phillip Greene Photo)

Alex Villanueva led the Vikings with 465 yards of total offense on Friday night against the Black Hawks. (Phillip Greene Photo)

The Avery Vikings had one mission entering Friday evening, and that was to successfully dismantle the Black Hawks of West Wilkes…and when they left Miller’s Creek, they left the Black Hawks in a state of shock and confusion.

“Rick Wilson (former Avery Coach and Current West Receiver and QB Coach at West) came up to me after the game,” stated Head Coach Darrell Brewer, “and told me that the Avery team he saw on the field was not the same team he had seen in film from just a week earlier.  We as the coaches felt the same way.”

The Vikings were coming off a tough loss to Robbinsville, and the week had been spent focusing on what to fix coming out of the loss.  The Coaches spent the majority of the week focusing on Special Teams and Defense, knowing that their offense was capable of making plays and putting points on the board; and as Friday rolled around the Vikes were locked and loaded – target: West Wilkes.

As the game opened the Vikes took the opening kick and it didn’t take long for the Black Hawks to see what was in store; with just 1:18 coming off the first quarter clock, Viking QB Alex Villanueva hit WR Andy Gonzalez for a 50 yard score to get the Vikes on the board, putting Avery up 7-0.  The Viking defense would then step up big, holding the Hawks to 3-and-out, forcing a punt to get the ball back. The Vikings would then move the ball to the 50, and on a 3rd and 7, Villanueva would take a draw play around the right end to paydirt, putting the Vikes on top 14-0 with 8:05 remaining in the opening frame.

The Hawks would then take the ball and move quickly down the field as QB Logan Hallock would hit Andrew Marley for a 26 yard strike, cutting the Viking lead to 14-7.  The Vikes would strike again with 2:00 remaining in the opening stanza after a beautifully orchestrated drive capped off by Villanueva pushing it in from 1-yard out to extend the lead back to a 14 point margin.

West would battle their way down the field with Hallock pushing his way into the endzone with 9:08 on the clock in the 2nd quarter, cutting the Viking lead to seven once again, making the score 21-14 Avery.  Following great defensive pressure which forced an interception, the Hawks would strike again; this time on a 16 yard pass from Hallock to speedster Dalton Moore, cutting the Avery lead to 21-20.  Viking DE Dylan Aldridge blocked the point after attempt to preserve the Viking lead.

The Vikes would take less than a minute to negotiate the field, capping off their next drive on a 41-yard bomb from Villanueva to Keith McKinney to extend the Viking lead to 28-20 with 4:30 remaining in the half.  On the next defensive stand Taylor Potter would force a fumble and Hunter Shields would dive on the ball to get possession back for the Vikings, and Villanueva would lead the Vikes down the field again, this time rewarding Potter with a 25 yard strike to give the Vikings a 34-20 lead.

The Hawks would strike on the ensuing kick, with Moore busting through Avery’s coverage for an 82 yard return and bringing the Hawks back within 7, cutting the Viking lead to 34-27.  After a Viking fumble, Shields would intercept the next pass from Hallock, but the Vikes were unable to push into the endzone and would take their 7 point lead into the half.

To open the second half the Vikes would again hold the Hawks to a 3-and-out, and on their next drive would change things up, opting for the Wing-T offense to utilize the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of the Hawk offense.  They would drive the field, but turn the ball over on downs deep in West Wilkes territory, but defense would again stand strong for Avery, forcing another punt.  This time the Vikings would take 2 minutes to drive the field, and cap off the drive with Villanueva’s 3rd TD run of the evening.

The Vikings would add two more scores in the final stanza; first a 1-yard from Potter with 8:34 remaining in the game, and then a 25 yard burst from McKinney on an end-around which put the Vikes on top 54-27 with 7:48 remaining.  The Vikings would then use their defense and their running game to run out the clock on the Hawks hopes of mounting any type of comeback.

“This was a big win,” explained Brewer, “to be honest, it was big for everybody; I think the boys needed it, the coaches needed it, and I think the community needed it.  I think it showed everyone that we aren’t a bad football team, and I told the boys after the game that we just proved to everyone that youth isn’t going to be our downfall.  The boys have been frustrated hearing that they are young, I told them now we can’t look back.”

“We got on ‘em early,” continued Brewer.  “Even when West pulled within a point, our kids never had a doubt that they were going to win the game; but my hat’s off to West, they fought back hard and pulled within a point, they played a good game.”

The Vikings put together a game using a total team effort, which the coaches stated was great to see, saying that this team was not about being a hero.  The offensive line made some great blocks to help lead Villanueva to a career night as a quarterback.  Villanueva put up 465 total yards of offense, throwing for 374 yards on 19 of 32 passing with 3 TD and an interception, while rushing for 92 yards and three more scores.  McKinney and Potter each had 2 TD as well, while Gonzalez accumulated 145 yards receiving and a score for the Vikes.

“First of all,” remarked Brewer, “I have to give credit to the offensive and defensive lines.  These guys don’t get in the stat book with the tackles or the touchdowns, but they made them possible.  Alex and the O-line have a great relationship, and those guys want to give him the protection he needs, they deserve a lot of credit.”

“Alex had a night that a senior would love to have,” continued Brewer, “I think this team showed fans what they have to look forward to.  I’ve been excited about this team since they came up as freshmen over the last couple of years.  Alex is a student of the game and if he makes a mistake, he learns from it…he never makes the same mistake twice.  The coaches see it and I think the players do too, and they feed off of it; he’s a leader and they want to play hard for him…but most of all, they play as a team.”

The 2009 version of the Vikings will open their home schedule Friday night in the ‘Battle for the Bucket’ match-up with Watauga.  The Pioneers come into the game boasting a 1-1 record coming off of a 25-12 loss to Shelby.

“Watauga will look a lot like Robbinsville,” explained Brewer.  “Their defensive line is a big, physical line.  I think that our game against the Robbinsville will help us in our preparation for the Pioneers.  Corum is also a threat, he’s a great running QB with size and speed; he really looks more like a fullback when he runs.  They have a better line and better group of receivers than West, but our boys will be ready.”

Avery will defend the turf against the Pioneers on Friday night at MacDonald Stadium, gametime is set for 7:30 PM.

Avery @ West Wilkes

Miller’s Creek, NC

August 28, 2009 6:30 PM

1          2          3          4          F

Avery              21        13        7          13        54

W.Wilkes        7          13        0          0          27


Villanueva (Avery):  19/32    374 yards        3 TD    Int

Hallock (W.Wilkes):  16/31   234 yards        3 TD    Int


Hicks (Avery):           11 carries        94 yards

Villanueva (Avery):   11 carries        92 yards          3 TD

Hallock (W.Wilkes):  13 carries        40 yards


Gonzalez (Avery):      5 receptions    145 yards        TD

McKinney (Avery):   4 receptions    74 yards          TD

Potter (Avery):           4 receptions    74 yards          TD

Moore (W.Wilkes):   4 receptions    79 yards          TD


Panthers Rally Late, Fall to Wolverines in Thriller

Avery Middle opened their season against Watauga Tuesday night at Avery High (Phillip Greene Photo)

Avery Middle opened their season against Watauga Tuesday night at Avery High (Phillip Greene Photo)

Avery Middle Opened their regular season with a thriller on Tuesday, August 25.  The Panthers came into this season with high expectations, returning 10 starters on offense and defense.  The Panthers came into the game hoping to continue the success they were able to find against Happy Valley in their August 14 meeting during the Highlander Jamboree.

The game started with the Panthers taking the ball, looking to drive, but were forced to punt giving the ball to the Wolverines in decent field position.  The Wolverines would open with a pass, breaking a big play to open scoring with a beautiful pass putting 6 on the board.  The Panthers would try to claw their way back in during the first half, but another score from the Wolverines would put Avery in a 12-0 hole; which is where it would stand entering the second half.

“I jumped them pretty hard at half time about taking plays off,” remarked Head Coach Donnie Johnson after the game, “I don’t know if that was a factor or not. [Coach] Beach helped the OL out with some adjustments that really helped, while [Coach] Phillips and [Coach] Jackson really did some tweaking on the Defensive side. I think it was just a matter of all the coaches and players coming together.”

And come together they did; as the second half got underway you could see a different team on the Avery sidelines.  The Panthers would battle tough, but were unable to get their offense moving during the third quarter, as Watauga would break their second big play of the night on an end around by 7th grade QB, Zeb Speir, who took it 53 yards for the third Wolverine TD of the night, putting Watauga up 18-0 heading into the final stanza of the evening.

Avery’s never-say-die attitude would have its day in the 4th quarter, as they continued to pound the Wolverines.  8th grader, Ty Polsgrove, who replaced starting QB Chance Watson in the third quarter, would lead the Panthers down the field, finding Chase Buchanan for a 18-yard strike, putting the Panthers on the board with just over 4 minutes remaining in the contest.

The Panther defense would stand firm, holding the Wolverines to a three and out, earning another offensive set with just under 2 minutes to go.  Polsgrove would again step back and find Buchanan for another strike, pulling the Panthers to an 18-12 score.  They would add the 2-point conversion to make the score 18-14 with just over 1 minute remaining.

Ty Polsgrove took over for the injured Watson in the second half, leading the Panthers to a near 4th quarter comeback against the Wolverines (Phillip Greene Photo)

Ty Polsgrove took over for the injured Watson in the second half, leading the Panthers to a near 4th quarter comeback against the Wolverines (Phillip Greene Photo)

Panther kicker Tre Jackson would attempt an onside kick that would just squirm across the sideline with two Panthers about to pounce on it, giving the Wolverines the ball at their own 35 yard line.  The Panther defense would again stand strong and hold the Wolverines to another three-and-out, forcing a punt.  The Wolverine center would put the snap just above their punter’s grasp, and the Panther defense would take advantage, sacking him for a loss, and take over possession at the Wolverine 27 with 54.8 seconds remaining. Polsgrove would then take the snap, step back and fire a pass, but the Wolverine defense would come up big with an interception to close out the contest.

“[Ty] was trying to make a play,” explained Johnson, “He’d been making them, we were there because of him. They weren’t really covering the inside receivers all night; their players would line up off of our inside receivers so far we could get it in to any of them-that one time it just didn’t work out. He made a good decision based on what they had done the whole game, they just made the play.

Chase Buchanan caught 2 TD passes from Polsgrove during the 4th quarter Tuesday Evening. (Phillip Greene Photo)

Chase Buchanan caught 2 TD passes from Polsgrove during the 4th quarter Tuesday Evening. (Phillip Greene Photo)

“I thought Ty put us in position to win, he’s that type of athlete. I was really proud of his heart and determination. Chance hurt his finger, don’t know the extent. Controversy, not so much, I still like to throw the ball to Ty, he needs his touches and we can accomplish that anywhere he plays.

“Defense wins games and we gave up two big plays. We always talk about consistency on D, one play can lose a game; the boys learned tonight that is the case. I was really proud of the way the D played. They played hit’em in the mouth Defense, and they didn’t quit. We gave up 6 points in the 2nd half and got stronger as the game went on. The D really stepped up.”

The Panthers will take their 0-1 record into conference play on Tuesday, September 1, when they host East Yancey on the turf at MacDonald Stadium.  Gametime will be 6:30 PM.

Are You Ready for Some Football? Vikes and Panthers Kick Off with Highlander Jamboree

055The Avery Vikings and the Avery Middle School Panthers both traveled to Roan Mountain on Friday evening to take part in the Highlander Jamboree.  The Jamboree kicked-off at 7 PM with the Middle Schools taking park in the Skills Competitions, testing to see who had the best arm, leg, and was the fastest among the linemen and the backs.  The Panthers had no one to take part in the Competition, but when the action got started the 2009 Panthers laced up the cleats and took the field against a noticeably larger Happy Valley team.

“I was a little worried going in about our defense,” stated Head Coach Donnie Johnson, “but they showed me quite a bit in our first real action on the field.  The Offense also put together a few good plays, giving me a good look at the players that I have on the roster.”

Johnson wasn’t the only one singing the praises of the Panthers, who were coming off a tough season from 2008, but seem to have the parts in place to make a run at a conference title in ’09.

“I think we can compete with every team in our conference,” continued Johnson, “we’ve practiced hard, and depending on how the players progress over the next couple of weeks; we stand a good chance to beat anyone in the conference on any given day, it all depends on the teams that show up.”

The Panthers battled tough with the Warriors throughout the quarter of play.

The Middle Schools wrapped up around 8:30 and the High School squads prepared for action with the Vikings taking the field against former Avery Assistant, and current Head Coach of Hampton, Mike Lunsford.  Lunsford and Viking Head Coach Darrell Brewer have a good friendship off the field, and it was evident at the opening snap that neither coach was willing to reveal a lot of their plans, but were also not afraid to pull out the trick plays to try and gain the advantage.

Lunsford opened the game with a HB pass to try and catch the defense napping, but an overthrown pass left the Bulldogs with a 2nd and 10.  The Viking defense would step up on the next play, but it was evident that size would leave them unable to stop the running attack of Hampton.  The Bulldogs would effectively eat away at the clock and use five minutes of the 12 minute quarter to mount a TD drive that was capped with a short 2 yard run.  They would miss the point after attempt, and take a 6-0 lead.

The Vikings would come to the line showing a Wing-back set and run from under center twice before a lost fumble caused a momentum shift and saw the Bulldogs take advantage of the turnover, putting one in the end zone for 6 more taking the lead to 12-0.  When the Vikings got the ball back the crowd sat and cheered them on as they took to the spread attack on their next drive.  The Drive would start that the Viking 30 yard line, and three plays and 10 yards later the Vikings would unleash a 60 yard touchdown from Alex Villanueva to Andy Gonzalez to put 6 on the board for the Vikings.

The next play from scrimmage the Vikings forced a fumble when LB Kenny Hicks knocked the ball loose around the 30 yard line, and MLB Dylan Aldridge scooped up the loose ball and took it to the house for 6 more.  The Vikings added the point after off the foot of Dustin Clark and putting Avery on top 14-12 in a matter of 12 seconds, with just 4 minutes remaining in the quarter.

The Bulldogs would then manufacture a three and a half minute scoring drive to go on top 20-14 after a 2-point conversion.  The Vikings looked good for a team who only had a couple of weeks practice under their belt.

“You can tell the difference between North Carolina and Tennessee,” stated Brewer. “It was obvious that they are farther along than we are, they were in practice in pads 10 days before we were.  I felt good about how we fared, most of the mistakes that we made are correctable in practice.”

“We’ve got a good team,” continued Brewer, “I felt good about how we played; it was our first real contact of the season.  It’s hard for us to get a look at a starting defense in practice, so it was the first time I’ve had that defense on the field as a unit this season in a game type situation.”

The Vikings open their season on Friday evening at Robbinsville against the Black Knights.  The Knights are coming off a productive season, but Avery is confident heading into the contest.  The Knights enter the contest without one of their key contributors in starting QB, Luke Perkins, who is out following knee surgery for two to four weeks.  It looks to be a tough contest for the Vikings, but Coach Brewer is optimistic heading into the contest.

“Hampton’s offense is a lot like Robbinsville’s,” added Brewer.  “I think that we fared well against Hampton considering their size.”

Robbinsville doesn’t have the size of Hampton, but are returning a good team from last year.  Friday’s contest will start at 7:30 PM in Robbinsville.  Avery will be on the road next week as well; traveling to Wilkes County to take on West Wilkes.  The Vikings will hold their home opener on Friday, September 4, when they take on the Watauga Pioneers.

The Panthers open their season at home next Tuesday evening against the Watauga Wolverines at 6:30 PM on the turf at MacDonald Stadium.  Good luck to both teams this season!

Avery Cheerleaders Have Spirited Start to 2009

Avery's Cheerleaders took home numerous awards at the 2009 UCA Cheer Camp in BooneAvery’s cheer squad got the 2009-10 school year off to a spirited start taking home a number of awards from the Universal Cheerleaders’ Association (UCA) camp held at Appalachian State University.  The Viking Cheerleaders traveled to Boone to take part in the 2009 UCA Summer Camp, with the Varsity taking part in the Elite and JV participating in the App 3 group.

The UCA was started in 1974, quickly growing to become one of the elite cheer groups in the world.  The UCA puts on camps throughout the United States, utilizing many college programs, and helping high school programs become knowledgeable in proper techniques to maximize performance and minimize injury.  Cheerleading when done wrong can be a dangerous sport, but the goal of UCA is to make sure that injuries are kept to a minimum.

UCA’s biggest goal is teaching and inspiring leadership both on and off the field.  UCA uses centrally focused programs and material to exemplify the traditional role of cheerleading, and believes that a cheerleader’s primary purpose is to support their school’s athletic programs and lead the crowd in rooting on their team.  According to UCA, cheerleaders play an instrumental role in maintaining school spirit not only at sporting events, but around the community as well.

“We took 13 varsity and 7 junior varsity cheerleaders to the camp,” stated Head Coach Cary Dominguez.  “Based on the numbers that we took we were concerned about how we would do as a team, but the girls stepped up and excelled.  Amy (Fortune) and I were proud not only of their performance, but also of the way that the girls bonded during the week.”

The Varsity squad took home numerous awards in the Elite division of camp, earning two trophies (Superior Squad and Camp Champs), 4 Superior Ribbons (given based on daily performance of the team), and taking home the Spirit Stick as the most spirited team in the Elite Division.  The team also boasted 3 UCA Varsity and 1 Junior Varsity All-Americans: Ariel Franklin, Ariel Byrd, Ashley Buchanan and Carissa Heath; earning them the chance to go to London for the 2010 London Varsity Tour sponsored by UCA. The JV Squad, coached by Amy Fortune, also took home a Superior Squad Trophy in the App 3 group and two superior ribbons and one excellent ribbon for daily performances.

During the camp, UCA has a pep rally playing off the weekly theme for the camp.  This year the theme was Heroes, and the Viking Cheerleaders chose the Newland Fire Department as an appreciation for the continued support the NVPD gives to the Viking Cheerleaders on a yearly basis, and who’s help aided in the purchase of new uniforms for the upcoming season.  For their routine Avery’s girls proudly displayed their Newland FD shirts, as well as plastic Fireman Hats to honor some of Newland’s Finest.

Congratulations to all the girls who earned honors at the camp, and to the UCA All-Americans.

Vikings Poised for 2009 Run

Viking Football 01The Avery Vikings enter the 2009 football season with a lot to prove…not only to themselves, but also to the community.  The players and coaches heard the rumbles last season as the season seemed to fall apart, but as the 2009 season draws near, it only seems to have been a stepping stone for improvement.

As the 2008 season drew to a close, Head Coach Darrell Brewer and his staff were searching for answers to a 2-8 season as they entered the NCHSAA playoffs in Hendersonville.  The Viking Coaches fielded a team put together from both the JV and Varsity teams, and put freshman QB Alex Villanueva at the helm, giving fans a glimpse into the 2009 season.

“We’ve had a great summer,” stated Coach Brewer.  “This has been the best spring and summer I can remember as part of this program.  We had a good camp and the Varsity squad is looking great, but we are lacking numbers for JV, we would really like to get some of the incoming freshman out there.”

As fall practice officially got underway on Saturday, the Vikings took the field in hopes of giving fans a look at the 2009 Vikes, but inclement weather in the area forced the team into the locker room where they took the time to go over plays and schemes for 2009.

“I’m encouraged,” continued Brewer.  “These guys have worked hard, and they have all put in a hard summer to get ready for the season.”

Brewer echoed the need for incoming freshmen and sophomores who want to play to go ahead and come to the field, stating that they were low in numbers on the JV end and need more players to field a team.

The Vikings will get their season underway with a scrimmage on August 12 on the turf at Avery and will then travel to Cloudland for the annual Jamboree on August 14.  The 2009 season will get underway with the Vikes traveling to Robbinsville on August 21 to take on the Black Knights.

With Villanueva taking the ball for the Vikes, Dylan Aldridge and Colton Blackburn leading the Viking D and many of the JV players moving into roles in the Viking offense, the Vikes look poised to do more than just better their 2008 season, they are hoping to demolish it.

Good luck to the Vikings in their 2009 campaign.