HOMECOMING 2009: Vikings Harness the ‘Horses

Cole Blackburn's (10) 4th Quarter interception seals the Viking Victory in the Fog (Skip Sickler Photo)

Cole Blackburn's (10) 4th Quarter interception seals the Viking Victory in the Fog (Skip Sickler Photo)

Owen players and coaches left the field with looks of shock and disbelief on Friday night following Avery’s 14-7 victory over the Warhorses.  The shock came after Avery essentially beat Owen at their own game, running the ball and playing smashmouth defense, keeping the Warhorses from being effective on the ground; and in the late stages of the game, the Viking defense stood tall to keep the Vikes on top.

“It was an awesome feeling,” remarked Coach Darrell Brewer, following the Viking win at Homecoming.  “I’ve got to give credit to the coaches, James Condrey and the offensive coaches really had a great game plan.”

That game-plan might have been altered a little as the night began, however, with the weather playing havoc on the region.  A cool, rainy night was on tap, but the braved that braved the elements were treated to a spectacular game on both sides of the ball, with neither team really willing to give on the defensive end.  Avery set the tone opening the night with the Viking defense when Nathaniel Buchanan planted the Owen RB Andy Coleman in the backfield for a 1-yard loss on the first play from scrimmage.

Nathaniel Buchanan (32) cuts back through a huge hole provided by the great up-front blocking (Skip Sickler Photo)

Nathaniel Buchanan (32) cuts back through a huge hole provided by the great up-front blocking (Skip Sickler Photo)

“Roo set the tone for the game,” quipped Brewer, “I don’t know how many people saw it, but that hit set the standard for the defense all night.”

On the second play the Viking defense would respond with Kenny Hicks forcing a fumble from Brennan Kirby that was recovered by Taylor Potter at the Owen 31 yardline.  The Vikings would take over, but the Warhorse defense would battle back, taking the Vikings backward 7 yards in 3 plays, forcing the Vikings to punt.  Dylan Aldridge, senior Punter, placed a beautiful punt inside the Warhorse 15 to give Owen possession for their second drive.

On Owen’s second drive of the night the Viking defense would battle, but the Owen front line would make key blocks and the ‘Horses would finish off a 5 play, 87 yard drive with a 23 yard rush from RB Kirby, as he was able to drive down and get on the board first against the Vikings.  On the ensuing kick Keith McKinney would take the ball and return it close to mid-field, but a huge penalty would deflate hopes for a while, as an illegal block was called against the Vikings, bringing the ball back 31 yards to the Viking 16 to start their second drive of the evening.  The Warhorses would force the Vikings to punt again, getting the ball back with just over 5 minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Villanueva getting across for his first of 2 TD for the Vikings on the night (Skip Sickler Photo)

Villanueva getting across for his first of 2 TD for the Vikings on the night (Skip Sickler Photo)

Owen would drive the ball down the field, but the Viking defense would stand tall forcing the ‘Horses to punt, and then pinning the Vikes at the 1 yard line, leaving the Vikings 99 yards to travel for a score.  The Vikes would move the ball 40 yards, but were unable to move the ball and were forced to punt again.  Aldridge would boot a 58 yard punt, returning the favor, pinning the ‘Horses on their 1.  The Warhorses would get a first down, but the Vikings would hold them at the 16, forcing another Kirby punt, and getting the ball back for the Viking Offense.

The Vikes would start the drive at the 47 with QB Alex Villanueva completing a pass to WR Andy Gonzalez for 9 yards.  Colton Blackburn, RB, would then take the ball and run 18 yards to earn a Viking first down.  The Vikings would then eat away at the clock, and with 5:33 remaining on the first half clock the Vikes would get the score, when Villanueva would sneak across the goal line, tying the game.  The score would remain tied going into the half, thanks to the stellar defensive play by the Viking front line, forcing the Warhorses to a 4 and out at the Viking 20, keeping the game tied and giving the Vikes possession.  Owen’s defense would then stand firm, keeping the Vikings from moving the ball, closing the half by sacking Villanueva around mid-field to end the Viking threat.

At the half the crowd was treated to a downpour and the Homecoming festivities.  Serving on homecoming court for 2009 were: Freshmen – Bryce Pittman and Carson Clark; Sophomores – Logan Sluder and Gary McFee, Arden Stanley and Dustin Clark; Juniors – Sara Monogue and Casey Mitchell,  Kayla Greene and Joey Potter, Kasadee Blackburn and Joey Gragg; and Seniors – Hayden Blackburn and Dushin Leiniger and Hayden Blackburn, Ethan Sluder and Lauren Avery, Hunter Gossett and Ariel Franklin and Jared Clack and Leah Powell.  With Hayden Blackburn and Hunter Gossett taking home King and Queen Honors on Friday evening.

The second half got underway with the Vikings taking the opening kick and piecing together a 19 play, 89 yard drive.  The Vikings used a well rounded run attack to successfully run the clock, while running the ball right at the Warhorses.  Condrey and his boys methodically took close to 9 minutes off the game clock on the drive, keeping the Owen offensive attack off the field, and wearing down the ‘Horse defense to get the go ahead score, putting Avery up 14-7 when Villanueva stepped across the goal line for his second score of the night.

Tyler Long's (22) smothering defense helped the Vikings to a 14-7 Victory for Homecoming 2009 (Skip Sickler Photo)

Tyler Long's (22) smothering defense helped the Vikings to a 14-7 Victory for Homecoming 2009 (Skip Sickler Photo)

Owen would then attack, pushing their way down the field inside the Viking 5 to the 3 yard line; but the Viking defense would stuff the Warhorses there, keeping them out of the end zone, and keeping the game at a 14-7 advantage for the Vikes.  Owen would again hold the Vikes at a three and out, forcing Aldridge on the field to punt again.  Dylan again would boom a monstrous punt over 50 yards, booting a 52 yard punt in the fog that was downed before the crowd and most of the players on the field even knew the ball had been snapped.

The Fog would become almost unbearable for those in attendance, who were unable to see much of the 2nd half due to the heavy cloud cover that almost hovered over the field in an ominous fashion.  On the ensuing drive the Warhorses were driving down the field, and using the cloud cover to their advantage, driving the ball down the turf until Cole Blackburn stepped in and picked off Fowler’s pass at the Viking 15 yard line ending the Owen hopes, returning the pick to the 40 yardline before fumbling, but Taylor Potter was there to recover his second fumble of the night.

Owen would get one last shot, forcing Avery to another three and out, but the Vikings would fight right back, forcing a punt with 3:26 remaining in the contest.  The Vikings would then run the clock to seal the victory and leave MacDonald Stadium leaving the Homecoming crowd cheering from all they had just seen.  The night belonged to the Blackburn family with Hayden taking Homecoming Queen and Cole taking the hearts of the Avery fans, running the ball down the throat of Owen, and sealing the game with his 4th quarter interception.

“Anytime you can beat Owen it’s a big win,” explained Brewer, “I really wouldn’t have thought we’d have a chance with Alex only throwing for 40 yards; but on both sides of the ball we did a great job.  Owen’s only chance was to get outside with the ball and we didn’t let them.  I was really proud of our effort on both sides, especially the offensive and defensive lines.

“Looking back to where we started,” continued Brewer, “these boys have grown leaps and bounds.  This team is getting better every week and as a coach that is all you can ask for.  This team is a team and in all phases of the game tonight, we won the battle.  They’re a great group of kids, they really like each other and it’s awesome to coach a team like that.”

The win boosts the Viking record to 3-2 on the season, 1-0 in conference play.  Friday night they will take on the Gryphons of Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy on the turf at MacDonald Stadium.  The game was moved due to a field scheduling conflict for the Gryphons who are slated to be the home team in the contest; the game will start at 7:30 PM.  Go Vikings!!

Final Box

Final Box

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Avery @ Thomas Jefferson now Thomas Jefferson @ Avery

Alex Passing--Cloudland

(Skip Sickler Photo)

Due to TJCA’s inability to secure a field for the October 2nd game with the Avery Vikings, the game has been moved to Avery High making it another HOME game for the Vikings.  This means that the Vikings will be at home for the two weeks following their open date this friday.

Avery will host Owen High for Homecoming on September 25, 2009.  They will then play host to Thomas Jefferson on October 2nd before traveling to Hendersonville on October 9.  Game time at MacDonald Stadium for both the 25th and the 2nd will be 7:30 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!

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.

Viking Schedule Changes

baseballsoftball-averyThe Baseball and Softball games scheduled for today, May 5, against Mountain Heritage have been rescheduled due to the rain in the area.  They have been rescheduled for Thursday, May 7, at Avery High.  Baseball will play at 4 PM and Softball will get underway at 4:30 PM.  Any other scheduling changes will be passed along as they become available.

Power Play!

Five Vikings hit homeruns against Mitchell (L-R):  Adam Pate, Chris Childress, Stephen Daniels, Sutton Stanley and Zac Hall

Five Vikings hit homeruns against Mitchell (L-R): Adam Pate, Chris Childress, Stephen Daniels, Sutton Stanley and Zac Hall (Gwen Clark Photo)

The Viking Baseball team fell to the Hendersonville Bearcats on Monday, April 20, by a score of 9-1.  The loss was a tough one for the Vikings to take, who according to the coaching staff didn’t play their best game; so naturally you could understand the concern the Viking coaches had heading into Wednesday evening’s contest against the Mitchell Mountaineers.

The Vikings jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead after two innings, but a couple of misplays, a hit or two, and at the end of 2 1/2 innings the Vikes found themselves knotted at 3-3.  That is when the bats were awakened as the Vikings would explode offensively for 9 runs in the inning on 4 homeruns off of two different Mountaineer Pitchers.  Stephen Daniels got the excitement started with solo blast to left-center field, just to the right of the scoreboard, putting Avery up 4-3.  Four batters and an error later, Daniel Huff would cross for the Vikings’ 5th run, making the score 5-3; and then Chris Childress would step to the plate with the bases loaded, smashing a grand-slam to put the vikings up 9-3, and cause the Mountaineer coaches to call to the bullpen.

Sutton Stanley on the mound for the Vikings late in Wednesday's contest

Sutton Stanley on the mound for the Vikings late in Wednesday's contest (Gwen Clark Photo)

New pitcher, same results, however, as Adam Pate came to the plate shortly after Childress’s blast, and knocked a 2-run shot of his own to straight away center.  Zac Hall would add a solo shot to close out the Viking half of the 3rd inning with the Vikes on top 12-3 over Mitchell.  Viking pitching would shut down the Mountaineers in the top of the 4th, and the Vikes would add three more runs in the bottom of the inning, as Sutton Stanley would get into the longball action, adding a two-run blast of his own.  The 15-3 score at the end of 4 1/2 was enough for the game officials to end the contest and for the coaching staff to see that the Vikes had learned from their game on Monday, and had come ready to play against the Mountaineers.

“On Monday, we lost 9-1. [We] did not play a good game all the way around; We were not ready mentally,” explained Coach Benny Wellborn following Wednesday’s game.  “The game against Mitchell the boys made a real turn around and played well; They showed a lot of heart and emotion.  It was good to see.”

The Vikes will host the Bearcats in a rematch of Monday’s contest on Friday at Avery High, gametime will be 4 PM.

Movin’ On!

viking-background-basketballThe Avery Lady Vikings and the Avery Viking JV boys both got victories in the Opening Round of the Western Highlands Conference Tournament on Monday, February 16 at Avery High School.  The new format of the tournament means that in the first round of the tournament the Higher seed gets a home game, and both teams took advantage of their home court.

The JV boys got the evening started with a tremendous game, playing Madison in their third close match-up of the season.  Avery’s JVs had split the season series with Madison, losing on a buzzer beater at Avery and then winning at Madison on a failed half-court attempt from the Patriots that would have tied the game.  Anticipation was high coming into the game, and fans were not disappointed.  The game went back and forth for much of the first half, but in the second half the Vikings found themselves looking up at a double digit deficit; but that would not deter them, as they would fight back to take the lead late in the fourth quarter.  Avery would hold on with a 50-48 win, to earn their second victory over the Madison Patriots and move on in the WHC tournament.

The Lady Vikes would then take the floor in what would turn out to be more of a practice session for Avery.  Every player for the Lady Vikes got on the board as they ran away with the victory.  The Lady Vikings got their post-season started with a huge 79-41 victory over the Hendersonville Lady Bearcats.  Hendersonville got on the board first on a lay up from Brooks Walz, and then Avery went on a 16-4 run to close out the first quarter.  In the second quarter the Lady Vikings would have one of their best periods of play this season putting up 27 points while allowing only 13 to the Lady Bearcats.  The Lady Vikes would take a 43-19 lead into the half with three players getting into double figures in the first half, Katie Ellis and Katelynn Eudy each had 10 in the half, with Samantha Shook adding 11 points for Avery.

In the second half the Viking Ladies would again dominate the boards and pull away even more, outscoring the Lady Bearcats 36-21 in the half en route to the victory, moving them on in the WHC tournament.  Ellis led the way with 18 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals, an assist and a block.  Shook added 13 points, 3 assists and 2 boards; Eudy finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds; and Allison Vance added 8 points with 9 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 steals.  Walz led all scorers with 19 points, but it was not enough to overcome the balanced attack of the Lady Vikes.

The Lady Vikings will play at 4 PM on Thursday, February 19, in the semifinals of the WHC tournament against Polk who pulled out a close victory against the Madison Patriots.  Polk and Avery split the season with each team winning on their home floor, but with the Tournament being hosted at Avery it looks to be the Lady Vikes moving on.  The other semifinal contest will pit the (1)  Mitchell Lady Mountaineers, who had a bye in the first round, against the Lady Cougars of Mountain Heritage, who got a double overtime victory over the Owen Warlassies in Burnsville on Monday evening.

The JV Vikings will be in action on Wednesday night in Marshall in the JV semifinals, facing the Mountain Heritage Cougars in a rematch of last weeks last second win for the Vikes.  The JV girls will be in action on Wednesday as well against the winner of the Owen and Polk JV women that will take place tonight at Polk County High School.  The Varsity Boys will be in action this evening, February 17, at Mountain Heritage High School in Burnsville, following the JV Girls action between Heritage and Mitchell, game time will be approximately 6:30 PM.

The WHC tournament is being hosted at Avery High on Thursday and Friday evenings, the Semifinals will get underway at 4 PM on thursday with the Lady Vikings taking on Polk County.  Friday night will be the championship contests with the JV Girls Championship getting underway at 4 PM.  Head on out for some great basketball action at Avery High this week.