North Cross starts slow, finishes fast in 63-0 win

North Cross starts slow, finishes fast in 63-0 win 150 150 SWVA High School Sports

Willis Field, Roanoke – On a beautiful fall day, North Cross welcomed the Fieldale Ducks from Southside Virginia to Willis Field in Southwest Roanoke County for a Friday 3pm game start. North Cross Head Coach Stephen Alexander was thankful to be playing period. “Any game these young men can play this fall is a good thing…I’m thankful for that.”

They start early at North Cross because Willis Field doesn’t have lights, so you’ve got to beat dark. It looked like Fieldale was going to get the fast start in this one as the Ducks MLB 50 Ty Collins ( 4Tkls, Caused Fumble, INT) picked off North Cross QB 9 Gabe Zappia (11/14, 254, 4TDs, INT) on the Raiders first play from scrimmage. The ball careened off of WR 11 Mehki Hines (2/49, TD rec; 2 Tkls, Rec Fumble) hands and Collins hauled it in and took it 30-yards before he was pulled down at the Raider twenty yard line. Coach Alexander didn’t like the start. “We came out really flat.” The North Cross defense has stood strong all year long though, and today was no different as they forced a “three and out” and a Duck field goal try. WR/DB 1 Ian Cann got through the line and blocked the attempt. The North Cross defense in effect blocked everything else after that shutting out the Ducks 63-0.

N. Cross WR 11 Mehki Hines scores the  first TD

Qtr 1 – Fieldale started the game with the ball first and the Ducks were quickly introduced to the Raider defense. Two incompletions and then a sack by DE/WR 3 James Jackson (2/77, TD rec; 4Tkls, Sack) on Fieldale QB 3 Tony Odell Jr (8/18, 29 pass) back to the ten yard line summed up the first series for the Ducks. North Cross took over on their own forty-five. Zappia’s first interception of the year by Collins didn’t hurt the Raiders as the defense stood tall. NC got the game’s first points on their second series as Zappia found WR 11 Mehki Hines on a 41-yard toss and run down the North Cross sidelines. Hines beat the last defender with a stutter step and go, then dove to hit the end zone pilon at the end zone at the 6:23 mark. K 55 Vedan Muse (6/8 PATs) made the point after kick for the 7-0 lead. Things went from bad to worse on the ensuing kickoff for the Ducks as KR 21 Isayvious Martin was stripped of the football and the Raiders recovered. North Cross forced 3 fumbles in the game and has a whopping 15-3 turnover margin advantage on the year. That’s what Defensive Coordinator and Assistant Coach Shannon Taylor’s troops bring to the party. NC made quick work of the takeaway with a seven play series finishing it off with a 9-yard Zappia TD run. The big play of the drive was a Zappia to Jackson pass for 28-yards on third down to the Duck thirty-four. North Cross lead was two touchdowns at the quarter’s end.

DT 50 Raleigh Cundiff dives for the tackle Friday

Qtr 2 – DL/OL 50 Raleigh Cundiff picked up a rare safety on the first snap of the second quarter. After the kickoff and a 10-yard holding penalty back to Fieldale’s own fourteen, Duck head coach Tony Odell tried a reverse to WR 9 Rayshawn Dickerson Jr (4/30 rec) but Cundiff sniffed it out and brought the receiver down in the end zone (cover photo). The Raider defense was smothering all day. Coach Alexander called out Daniel and Cundiff as two standouts. “Chase Daniel never takes a rep off. Cundiff made some big plays today, caused that fumble on the sidelines, chasing screens down. Both those guys were show stoppers today.”

North Crosses lead moved to 16-0 and got the ball back on the free kick. It took Zappia only three big pass plays of 19, 21 and 15 yards to RB 12 Carlton Ward (9/71, TD; 2Tkls, Sack), and the last two to Sophomore WR 1 Ian Cann (4/70, 2TDs rec; 4Tkls, Blocked FG). Cann’s last catch rang the bell as he got loose, all alone at the goal line. The lead had grown to 23-0 with Muse’s extra point. On Fieldale’s next series, Cundiff forced another turnover on a wide receiver screen. Hines recovered it and the home team was at it again. Zappia found Cann for another six point pass, this time from the twenty-two. Muse’s point after was no good. That put North Cross up 29-0 with 6:15 left in the half. The Raiders would add one more score before the break and this one would be memorable. Zappia threw a dart to Jackson on the sidelines and the Senior, blanketed by a defender, caught it one handed then cut inside and ran the 49-yards remaining for the TD. Muse’s successful kick made it 36-0.

Raider DL 67 Dylan England works off a block on defense

Qtr 3 – It didn’t get any easier for the visitor’s in the second half. WR/DB 11 Mehki Hines took the second half kickoff at the 10-yardline and weaved his way through the Ducks in route to a 90-yard touchdown return. “Hines had some big time catches and that return was awesome… He’s a really special player,” said Alexander. North Cross added a rushing TD on their follow up series. Ward did the honors on a 38-yard jaunt.

RB 12 Carlton Ward runs over a defender as he picks up tough yards

Qtr 4 – The final quarter saw some backups at different positions get some work on both sides. Even so, North Cross still added two more touchdowns to their tally. RB 4 Kamden Johnson (6/27, TD rush) scored up the middle from 12 yards out with 11:09 left. Backup QB 10 Zach Morgan (1/1, 9 pass; 3/22, TD rush) followed that up at the end of the game from five yards out. Morgan was hit by Duck LB 50 Cline at the goal line but recovered his own fumble for the games final TD.

North Cross stayed undefeated (4-0) and continued on their torrid scoring streak. The Raiders are outscoring opponents 210-34, an average of 52 points a game. Coach Alexander agreed, “Love to see our offense clicking. It starts up front. You have to  protect and run the ball…everything starts up front. (QB 9) Gabe (Zappia) continued to be very accurate. We weren’t our sharpest as we’ve been, but we showed flashes and we have scored a lot of points this year. Gabe’s (Zappia) a big part of that.” North Cross is scheduled to play St. Michaels this Friday. You won’t want to miss that one.

Offense: RushingNorth Cross– Ward 9-71,TD, Zappia 3-10,TD, Johnson 6/27,TD, Morgan 3-22,TD, Cann 1-4, Team- 2-(-7). Fieldale– J Martin 4-2, Estes 1-1, I Martin 1-1, Walker-Muse 3-(-3), Dickerson Jr. 2/(-8), Odell 2-(-16)  PassingNorth Cross– Zappia 11/14, 245, 4TDs  Fieldale– Odell 8-18, 32,  ReceivingNorth Cross– Cann 4-70,2TD, Jackson 2-77,TD, Hines 2-49,TD, Ward 2-27, Thompson 1-22  Fieldale– Dickerson Jr 4-30, Drewery 1-5, I Martin 1-0, Plunkett Jr 1-(-2), Valentine 1-(-1)  PuntingNorth Cross– None Fieldale Garcia 2-35

Defense: TacklesNorth Cross leaders Daniel 9 tkls, Sack,  Lange 8 tkls, Sack, HUR, Cundiff 4 tkls, TFL, Csd Fmbl, Safety,  Morgan 4Tkls, Rec Fmbl,  Cann 4Tkls, Bkld FG,  Jackson 4Tkls, Sack,  Johnson 4Tkls, BU,  Thompson 3Tkls, Rec Fmbl,  Hines 2Tkls, Rec Fmbl,  Ward 2Tkls, Sack,  Mack 1Tkl  

Fieldale leadersCollins 4Tkls, Csd Fmbl, INT Walker-Muse 6Tkls,  Younger 3Tkls, TFL, Sack,  Estes 4Tkls,  Davis 3Tkls,  Valentine 2Tkls 


  • NC: Zappia to Hines 41-yd TD pass; Muse PAT
  • NC: Zappia 9-yd TD run; Muse PAT
  • NC: Zappia to Cann 15-yd TD pass; Muse PAT
  • NC: Cundiff tackles Dickerson Jr. for Safety
  • NC: Zappia to Cann 22-yd TD pass; Kick failed
  • NC: Zappia to Jackson 49-yd TD pass: Muse PAT
  • NC: Hines 90-yd kickoff return; Muse PAT
  • NC: Ward 38-yd TD run; Muse PAT
  • NC: Johnson 12-yd TD run; Kick failed
  • NC: Morgan 5-yd TD run; Muse PAT

North Cross Head Coach
Stephen Alexander on his offense

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