WEST JEFFERSON — The football will be flying all over the field on Friday night as a pair of “Air Raid” offenses are set to square off at Ashe County High School. The Huskies open the 2016 season against the North Surry Greyhounds.
“Their offense is basically a mirror image of ours, they have gone to the Air Raid offense so they’ll be slinging the ball quite a bit,” said Ashe County head coach Brian Hampton.
Hampton got his head coaching start at North Surry before accepting the Ashe County head coaching position in 2012.
“I’m very close to a lot of the guys on that staff. Myself and their offensive coordinator went to the same coaching clinic together this summer,” said Hampton.
The Huskies, led by quarterback Colin Ellis and a big group of talented wideouts led by Judd Price, Grant Thompson and Corbin Coldiron will take on North Surry, led by star quarterback Avery Smith and a similar high-octane passing attack.
Smith is coming off of a tremendous year where he passed for over 2,400 yards and 36 touchdowns on the way to winning the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference Player of the Year award last season.
“We were tickled last year with how the season went, but really I think we were a few plays from being 9-2 instead of 7-4,” said North Surry head coach Danny Lyons in an interview with the Mount Airy News. “We got things rolling again, but we could have been better, and I think that has our guys hungry this year.”
Smith will be looking to get the ball out quickly to a trio of returning wide receivers. Carson Todd, Chase Chandler and Reid Stanley are expected to be the leading threats in the Greyhound offense.
This is the second season in the “Air Raid” for North Surry.
“We’re looking a lot better at this time of the season than we were last year,” Lyons said. “Our receivers are all on the same page. When you’ve been running the same plays for two years, it makes things pretty comfortable.
There are some question marks surrounding Smith and whether or not he will play. According to Hampton though, the Huskies are preparing for the game as if he is playing.
Defensively, both teams know what the other team is running, but putting a stop to the offense is a lot easier said than done.
“They’re experienced on defense. Their most experience is their defensive line, they’re very big up front,” Hampton said. “We’re probably starting three sophomores on the offensive line and that concerns me some with the inexperience at the varsity level. But these guys are hard working. This team is fun to coach because they work so hard.”
For Ashe this season, things will be a little different with a limited amount of depth at each position with just under 30 varsity players on the team.
“We’ve done a lot more conditioning than we have the last few years. Our guys understand they’re going to be on the field a lot more and understand they’re going to have to play both ways,” Hampton said in a previous interview with the Jefferson Post. “We’re going to have to stay on top of our conditioning throughout the year.”
In years past, the Huskies had the luxury of being able to play an offensive unit and a defensive unit that rarely saw players having to play both ways.
Last season, North Surry was able to hold off the Huskies for a 26-14 victory at home. The last time these two teams met at ACHS, the Huskies won a shootout over the Greyhounds, 50-42.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Other area games
Watauga at Alexander Central
North Stokes at Alleghany
South Caldwell at Bandys
Mount Airy at Starmount
Elkin at Forbush
Avery County at Hampton (Tenn.)
Community School of Davidson vs. Bishop-McGuinness
East Burke at Hibriten
Fred T. Foard at Maiden
West Wilkes at Mitchell
Davey Crockett (Tenn.) at Mountain Heritage
Freedom at Shelby
East Wilkes at South Stokes
East Surry at Surry Central
North Wilkes at West Caldwell
North Iredell at Wilkes Central
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062.