2008 Prep Football: NPC preview
By Mike London
Strange as it sounds, South Rowan coach Jason Rollins is convinced the Raiders moved into a tougher football league when the school dropped from 4A to 3A prior to the 2007 season.
“The CPC had Davie County, it had West Forsyth and Mount Tabor,” Rollins said. “But top to bottom, the NPC is better. Our kids competed last year, really competed, but wins were hard to come by.”
In 2006, when it wasn’t very good, South beat CPC clubs North Davidson and R.J. Reynolds but was outscored 100-7 by the two NPC teams it faced.
In 2007, South improved tremendously by every statistical measure, but it still lost six times in the NPC and finished seventh. It wasn’t like things got any easier, and South settled for 3-8.
East Rowan coach Brian Hinson had similar concerns about the NPC prior to last season. He rolled his eyes every time someone told him what a wonderful break it was for the Mustangs to be sliding from 4A to 3A.
Hinson turned out to be right. East had its finest football team in a decade and knocked off four county opponents. But it still was a sixth-place team in the 10-team NPC.
The conference figures to be a long, hard road for everyone again.
Carson and South are on the rise, more talented and more experienced than last year, but the bottom line still is finding beatable opponents in this league?
West Rowan still has K.P. Parks to power the offense, still has Chris Smith to wreak havoc on defense and still has Scott Young on the sideline.
That makes the Falcons the favorite to win their fifth straight league title.
West Rowan lost to West Iredell last year to end a long NPC winning streak, but the Falcons managed to finish one game ahead of Statesville and Northwest Cabarrus by beating them head-to-head.
Mooresville has a 1,500-yard rusher (Jjshaun Pinkston) in a league loaded with premier backs.
All-NPC Jordan Marsh should be one of the league’s best lineman, and QB Nathan Abraham directs a very experienced, very physical team loaded with seniors.
Statesville returns 15 starters from a nine-win team, including 1,500-yard rusher Andre Shepperd and experienced QB T.J. McCombs.
This athletic squad had West Rowan on the ropes in Greyhound Hollow last season and would be the preseason favorite in some leagues.
West Iredell graduated Shrine Bowl back Bobby Morrison, now at Catawba, and QB Jared Thompson from a 9-4 team. Coach Mark Weycker, who is entering his 22nd season, has another potential Shrine Bowler in receiver Quan Rucker, a 4.4 sprinter who caught 52 passes for 642 yards.
P.J. Clyburn is another elite wideout, and 210-pound linebacker Matt Urban made 106 tackles last year.
South Rowan probably is a year away from being a serious contender for the title, but if a stacked junior class comes through, the Raiders could fight their way into the top half.
East Rowan graduated a huge class that included standout QB Shawn Eagle, but with tailback Thomas Lowe and do-everything Ben DeCelle, the Mustangs still look dangerous. If a rebuilt O-line comes through, East could win more than it loses.
Northwest Cabarrus is hard to evaulate after brilliant quarterback Jeremy Cannon, who accounted for 38 touchdowns as a sophomore, injured a knee in a recent scrimmage.
Northwest still has a lot of veterans on offense, and a rugged line will make the defensive unit pretty stout.
Lake Norman is mixing players from a 9-1 jayvee team with 12 returning varsity starters, so coach Scott Sherrill’s Wildcats have to be taken very seriously.
Carson will have the best team in school history. It could achieve that elusive first win ó and a few more.
The only win North Iredell collected last season came against Carson. New coach Shannon Ashley (the school’s former defensive coordinator) is counting on sophomore QB Matt Ramseur and senior linebacker Josh McMahan.