Friday Football Fever: A.L. Brown vs. Kings Mountain preview
By Mike London
KANNAPOLIS ó Business boomed at Hardee’s over the weekend because A.L. Brown fans recognized the big “K” on the back of employee Chris Shaw’s parked truck.
“Everyone, and I do mean everyone, was coming in to congratulate me,” said Shaw, who will play right guard when the fourth-seeded Wonders travel to second-seeded Kings Mountain for a 3AA state semifinal tonight.
Brown has played in front of bigger crowds, but Catholic’s Keffer Stadium offered unique challenges.
The Wonders overcame them.
“The crowd is so close to the field there, you’re trying to talk to your kids, and three Catholic fans are listening in on the conversation,” receivers coach Empsy Thompson said.
The latest challenge for the Wonders (12-2) is to set aside last Friday’s drama and get excited about facing a Kings Mountain offensive machine that put up numbing numbers last week.
While Brown was surviving Catholic 28-27, Kings Mountain was stopping a two-point conversion at the 1-foot line to beat Anson 56-55.
Brown was in this same position three years ago after a monumental victory against West Rowan and didn’t handle prosperity well. It was buried in a 3AA semifinal by Catholic the following week.
“We beat West in the third round, and it’s like we were done,” defensive coordinator Noah Lyon said. “We want our kids to understand we haven’t won anything yet. We can’t afford any letdowns.”
Brown’s victory over Catholic was intense enough for head coach Ron Massey to label it “top five all-time.”
By the time the Wonders returned to their locker room from Charlotte, they knew Kings Mountain had outlasted Anson. Massey turned to his son, Zach, a tight end, and said, “Well, we’re going home.”
Massey coached Kings Mountain from 1995-99, and his son was a Mountaineer ballboy for two playoff struggles with A.L. Brown.
The Wonders prevailed in 1997 on their way to a state title. Kings Mountain got revenge in 1998 and was the state runner-up.
“He did a fantastic job here when he was here,” Kings Mountain coach Greg Lloyd said, “and a lot of people around here really respect him and the job he did.”
Under Lloyd, Kings Mountain (11-3) is now enjoying its longest playoff run since 1998. It has won 10 straight since losing games early to South Point, Forestview and Crest.
The last two weeks, Kings Mountain has gotten past Mooresville and Anson, the two teams that beat A.L. Brown.
Quarterback Michael Roberts, who is mobile and dangerous, is the biggest concern for Brown’s defense. He’s thrown for 1,507 yards and 12 TDs while rushing for 1,491 yards and 18 TDs.
Roberts threw four touchdown passes against Anson and also ran for two scores.
“He’s what you look for in a quarterback,” Lloyd said. “He makes our team go, for sure. He has good players around him, too.”
Joe Chambers has rushed for 1,317 yards and 18 TDs. Six different receivers have caught scoring passes. Terrance Young, who has 38 catches for 813 yards and seven TDs, has been the biggest threat.
Lineman Thomas James leads the defense. He has 161/2 tackles for loss.
Kings Mountain held South Point to 21 points and Crest to seven, but it’s given up a ton of points the last two weeks.
Brown, which has won its last nine outings, relies heavily on the playmaking ability of senior quarterback Jamill Lott, who has rushed for 1,014 yards and thrown for 1,650. He has accounted for 32 touchdowns.
“You never know what Jamill’s gonna do,” right tackle Markus Deel said. “You can have a bad play and he’ll just take over and do whatever he has to.”
Brown’s defense gives up 15.8 points a game.
Monstrous 255-pound middle linebacker Terrance Johnson, feisty strong safety Xavier Watson, huge lineman Aaron Davidson and quick end Dwayne Stroud are defensive stars, and undersized nose guard Justin Carson has quietly turned in a great year.
Brown beat Concord by a record-breaking score and finally beat Catholic. Destiny is a word that’s been used in the locker room all week.
“There’s no way you could write the script any better than for us to go to Kings Mountain,” offensive line coach Todd Hagler said.
The Masseys go home with a state championship berth on the line, but Kings Mountain is talented enough to furnish an unhappy ending.
Tonight’s winner plays either Greensboro Dudley or Northeast Guilford for the 3AA championship next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Winston-Salem.nCommon Sense predictionBrown 28, Kings Mountain 21 n
Bret Strelow contributed to this story.
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