April 16, 2021 is a night the Maiden Blue Devils won't soon forget. It was on that night that the Salisbury Hornets, en route to a 2A NCHSAA state championship, beat Maiden 52-12.
Salisbury finished the delayed and shortened football season tied for third in the Central Carolinas 2A Conference and advanced to the playoffs because of a tiebreaker. They were the seventh seeded team in the western region.
After whipping the Blue Devils, they beat sixth seeded Burns 10-7, then downed the #1 seed in the west North Davidson 24-21 for the western region title, and won the championship by beating St. Paul's 42-14.
That Friday night in April could rightfully be called Vance Honeycutt night. The senior quarterback ran for three first quarter touchdowns for a 21-0 advantage. Maiden finally scored on a short pass from Ethan Rhodes to Brennan James, but the extra point kick was blocked. Honeycutt threw a touchdown pass and then Salisury added a field goal to lead 31-6 at the half.
Salisbury scored on its first possession of the second half to lead 38-6. Chris Culliver caught a 70-yard pass from Rhodes for the Blue Devils only other score. A pass on a two-point try was no good; then Salisbury scored two more TDs for the final margin.
Honeycutt is gone, but JyMikaah Wells, who scored two of the Hornets' second-half TDs and finished the night with 209 yards rushing, second only to Honeycutt who had 236, is back. So is Marcus Cook, who caught a TD pass from Honeycutt.
Maiden finished the night with minus-19 yards rushing, but Rhodes did complete 17 of his 35 passes for 266 yards. Salisbury intercepted five of his passes, including four of the first seven. Rhodes also got sacked four times in that first half.
That was April; this is November, and the core of the Maiden offense is anxious for revenge. Both teams are unbeaten, Salisbury 11-0 and Maiden 12-0. Salisbury had shut out eight opponents, and only one has managed to score more than a single touchdown. None of their games have been close.
If you can't make it to the game this Friday, you can hear it on WLON Radio (1050AM, 107.5FM) or online at http://www.ktcbroadcasting.com/ or on WNNC Radio (1230AM, 101.3FM) or online at https://wnncradio.com/football/.
In other games this week, Shelby will host East Gaston, a team they easily beat earlier in the season. That game will be broadcast on WOHS-AM (1390) and WCLS (1590AM, 92.3FM) and also available online at http://www.ktcbroadcasting.com/.
Two other Gaston County teams will meet in the third round when Forestview visits South Point. Crest will host North Davidson and Kings Mtn. will travel to Greensboro to play Dudley; making three Cleveland County teams still in the playoffs. WOHS-FM (101.5) will carry the North Davidson @ Crest game, also available online at http://www.ktcbroadcasting.com/.