East Surry finishes regional vice-champion

Trey Armstrong (5) captures in close coverage to recover East Surry’s first try.

JR Willoughby Photography

East Surry failed in their quest for a fourth Western Regional Championship on Friday.

A 45-13 loss to the top Shelby Golden Lions ended the Cardinals’ season at 13-1. East Surry finished regional 2A West runner-up in his first season after being promoted from Division 1A.

Cardinal coach Trent Lowman called the 2021-22 season crazy and history he will never forget.

“We were 13-0 until we met the team that will most likely win the state championship,” said Lowman. “We knew as coaches that the third round of those 2A playoffs this year was going to be where you would play against this Tarboro caliber team. We played Monroe and no one gave us a chance. We won that one and then played against Maiden, which was MaxPreps’ # 1 team, and we managed to win that one too. Then we met Shelby who is the real # 1 and he’s a different animal. I have always been.

Shelby (14-1) qualifies for the NC High School Athletic Association Championship for the seventh time in nine years. The Golden Lions are looking to win their 18th state title in school history.

Shelby was one of the favorites, if not the clear favorite, to come out of West 2A after missing the title game in the 2A subdivided playoffs last spring. Despite winning back-to-back regional championships in the 1AA subdivided playoffs, East Surry was not in the same conversation at the start of the 2021-22 season.

“We are a young team,” said Lowman. “You know our three year old rookie stallion Benji Gosnell is moving just before the start of the season and all the talk was about how ‘East Surry is going to find out what real football is in 2A. These guys thought they could line up and play with anyone, and that’s exactly what they did.

“East Surry is 22-3 in 2021 and the losses have been to Tarboro, Reidsville and Shelby, and dadgumit, I’m going to take it. “

The Cardinals are 48-7 over the past four seasons. At that time, East Surry suffered only one loss to teams from his division (when the game was played) who failed to win a state championship that season.

“In four years, next week’s national final is the only game we haven’t played,” said Lowman. “Not many people can say that. So yeah, I’m sad these guys felt defeated tonight, but they are tears of joy more than anything for what they did. Watching these guys grow up for four years and are one game away from playing every game they can in their careers is pretty amazing.

“These seniors are the group I started out with here,” Lowman continued. “Sam (Whitt) in particular was in college every four years, and Benji would have been the other. A lot of guys like Trey Armstrong have been in all of the state championships with us.

A fourth state championship appearance for East Surry was not out of reach after the first 12 minutes of play. Despite both teams’ red zone appearances, the score was 0-0 at the start of the second quarter. .

The Cardinal offense was introduced to Malaki Hamrick, Shelby’s four-star rusher hired at UNC-Chapel Hill, during opening practice. Hamrick picked up a sack to force an East Surry punt.

A combination of passing and rushing moved the Golden Lions into the red zone in under three minutes. Quarterback Daylin Lee led the non-caucus offensive in Cardinal territory without throwing incomplete, but a grab on the Lions put Shelby back 14 yards. Lee completed a pass for a big win on the first down, but threw an incomplete pass on the second down. East’s Kyle Zinn caught a tackle for a loss to force the fourth and fourth, and another Cardinal save returned the ball on the downs.

Armstrong started the East Surry offense with a 43-yard run. Facing a fourth down, quarterback Folger Boaz found Armstrong for a gain of 18 yards. The Cards went all the way to the Golden Lion’s 18-yard line, but decided to try a field goal on the fourth and long. Stephen Brantley tried for 27 yards and the kick went wide to the left.

Shelby found herself in a third and long situation on her next trip. On their own 34-yard line, Lee joined Demetrius Thompson for a 20-yard gain. Lee completed 17 of 23 passes for 182 yards, and Thompson was his favorite target with six receptions for 62 yards.

After the big first down pitch, Shelby moved the chains three times over the next three games to reach the Cardinal 3-yard line at the end of the first quarter. Drew Hollifield completed the 3-yard run to make it 7-0 at the start of the second quarter.

East Surry started on his 26-yard line after a hold penalty on the return from the kickoff. A fumble was forced by Shelby and picked up and scored by Jaden Pierce as the nightmarish second quarter just started for the East.

The Cardinals kicked off after a three-and-out, then the Lions converted twice in the third to score another touchdown and the 2-point conversion that came with it. Another three-and-out saw East kicked again, but the kick bowed and threw Shelby at Cardinal 35.

A short run from Bricen Kee gave Lee a 31-yard touchdown pass to Luke Williams with 5:28 left in the half. Shelby led 29-0.

Cardinal’s next three practices ended with two interceptions and a punt. East recorded just two first downs in the second quarter. Shelby added another touchdown and a field goal to increase to 39-0 at the half.

“As coaches we felt like we were going to win so close, or that a few bad things were going to happen and it could get ugly,” said Lowman. “When you play against a team like this, those are kind of the only two options. In the first quarter we did good things: we stopped them, we moved the ball and it was 0-0 at the end of the quarter. The momentum started to roll in the second and we never stopped it. When you play against a team of this caliber, you better stop it or it’ll roll and it did until half-time.

East Surry attempted a back kick to start the second half, but failed to recover it. Shelby used the short court to score his last touchdown at 9:20. A failed PAT left the score 45-0.

Down, but not in retreat, East Surry’s offensive has taken hold. The Cardinals returned the ball on the downs in Shelby’s territory, but recovered it when Layton Allen knocked out Hollifield. The Cardinals came down Pearly Allen Field and entered the table as time ended in the third quarter. It was Brantley who passed an 18-yard pass from Boaz. The score was 45-6 after a failed PAT.

The Cardinals continued to fight and forced a Golden Lion punt after a Brett Clayton sack in fourth. East took the ball for 66 yards and scored on a 35-yard run from Anderson Badgett. Brantley’s PAT completed the final score of 45-13.

East Surry finished with 323 total yards versus Shelby’s 393.

Lee threw for all 182 yards from Shelby’s pass before leaving the game after the first down of the second half. The Lions rushed 35 times for 207 yards, led by Bricen Kee for 103 yards. All six of the Golden Lions’ touchdowns were scored by different players.

Boaz completed 15 of 26 passes for 182 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Allen led the Cards with nine catches for 105 yards, followed by Armstrong and Colby Johnson with two receptions each for a total of 48 yards, Luke Brown had a catch for 11 yards and Brantley’s only catch was the 18 touchdown reception. yards.

Badgett ran six times for 55 yards and a touchdown. Armstrong added eight carries for 53 yards, Clayton had three carries for 22 yards, Boaz rushed six times for 5 yards, Johnson rushed twice for 4 yards, and Zinn carried once for 4 yards.

East Surry finished with at least 13 wins for the fifth time in school history. The Cardinals went undefeated in the regular season for the third straight year and won the Foothills 2A Conference Championship. The Cardinals had an over / under +27.71 points and recorded three shutouts.

“What these guys did this year was amazing,” said Lowman. “Whether it’s starting a first year at linebacker, whether Luke Brown – who has never played football until this year – starts off as wide receiver all year, or Luke Bowman doesn’t never played until last year and then he made some huge playoff games.

“I am proud of all these young men. While it might not have been a storybook ending, it was a cool story that was really fun to be a part of.


Surry East – 0, 0, 6, 7 = 13

Young girl – 0, 39, 6, 0 = 45


11:56 SHS 7-0 – Drew Hollifield TD from 3 yards, Jack Berkowitz PAT

11:35 SHS 14-0 – Jaden Pierce fumble recovery returned 10 yards for a touchdown, Jack Berkowitz PAT

6:50 SHS 22-0 – Marquis Adams 6-yard TD rush, Marquis Adams 2-point conversion rush

4:45 SHS 29-0 – Daylin Lee passes to Luke Williams on receiving a 31-yard TD, Jack Berkowitz PAT

3:44 SHS 36-0 – 49-yard Bricen Kee TD, Jack Berkowitz PAT

0:00 SHS 39-0 – Jack Berkowitz 27 yard field goal


9:20 SHS 45-0 – Tristan Tate TD from 13 yards, PAT not good

00h00 ESHS 45-6 – Pass from Folger Boaz to Stephen Brantley Receiving an 18 yard TD, PAT not good


7:25 ESHS 45-13 – Anderson Badgett 35 TD yards, Stephen Brantley PAT

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