SHELBY – Mike Wilbanks admits he learned a valuable lesson when his football team Shelby lost last month to Rock Hill (SC) South Pointe, as did his players.
Down 37-7 at halftime, the Golden Lions took much of the sidelines but still have failed to bow 51-37. While exhilarating, Wilbanks has found that while his team can dig a deep hole, their team must also be prepared for occasions when the shoe is on the other foot.
Up 21 points at halftime on Friday night, Shelby’s football coach couldn’t have predicted a second-half push from rival Crest. But one thing was certain, the Golden Lions were ready.
After the COVID-19 pandemic put the rivalry on hold, Shelby and Crest renewed their acquaintance in a feud billed as one of North Carolina’s best. For the fifth time in six years, it was the Golden Lions who beat their opponents in green and gold, taking a 38-28 victory.
Led 28-7 at the break, Crest quickly took the lead with touchdowns thanks to Eli Hall and Javarius Green. But even as the Golden Lions’ lead dwindled, Wilbanks said his team refused to blink.
“The adversity we felt in that South Pointe game really paid off for us (Friday night),” he said. “We have grown from there until now. I’ve heard guys talk about sticking together, when it was like everything was falling apart. (Friday) it really showed that this team has grown from week 3 until now.
Turning point: After reducing Shelby’s lead to 28-21 in the third period, Crest moved into first place to make a defensive save. Facing 3rd and 25th from his own 38-yard line, Golden Lions quarterback Daylin Lee found Izay Bridges free in the Crest secondary for a 62-yard connection.
“I was on the helmet talking, thinking we were getting 10 yards to help our punter,” Wilbanks said. “We ran something that had a bunch of stuff underneath, but (Bridges) broke free and Daylin saw it, making a perfect pitch and grabbed it in stride.”
Game player: Bridges. The quick wide-out finished with seven catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns in the contest. His other goal came in game two of the game, Lee connecting to Bridges for a 12-yard touchdown.
“Izay had a great night. A lot of the guys had a great night, but I don’t think he’s had this kind of night in a while. It might be his best this year,” Wilbanks said. .
Remarks: A blocked punt early in the third period also boosted the Chargers, needing just six minutes to reduce Shelby’s lead to seven.… Mari Adams had her fifth straight game with at least 100 yards. He finished with 152 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns. … Crest returned the ball three times on Friday night, the first coming when the match was kicked off. Shelby quickly cashed in the mistake for Bridges’ first score of the night. Shelby also capitalized on Nathan ‘PJ’ Hopper’s fourth interception of the season, with Jalon Petty scoring on a 9-yard rush. “We had two turnovers, the opening kickoff where we fumbled and the interception,” Crest football coach Nick Eddins said. “We lost by 10 points. We lost by two scores, that’s a bit of the deal. When two good football teams play, the one that makes the fewest mistakes has the most chances of winning. (Friday night) it wasn’t us. … Huskey left the game late in the fourth, although Eddins didn’t expect the injury to have any lingering effects. Green – who had five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown – was intercepted by Shelby’s Ta’Darrin Griffin to seal the game.
Following: Shelby (6-1) returns to the 1A / 2A competition in southern Piedmont when it hosts Bessemer City. Crest (5-2) welcomes Forestview to Boiling Springs for a key Big South 3A game.
You can reach Joe Hughes at 704-914-8138, email [email protected] and follow on Twitter @JoeLHughesII.