2009 Football: It's the Wonders – who else? – in the SPC
By Mike London
A.L. Brown has only six returning starters from a 3AA state runner-up, but tradition never graduates, and Ron Massey, Todd Hagler, Noah Lyon and the rest of the crew are hard to beat as far as high school coaching staffs go.
The Wonders could be top dogs in a new-look 3A South Piedmont Conference made up exclusively of schools in Cabarrus County. There’s no clear-cut challenger.
Concord has had a tough time with Mount Pleasant lately, but give the Spiders the inside track for second place.
Glen Padgett, whose previous coaching stops included Salisbury, now leads the Spiders, replacing legend E.Z. Smith. Concord collapsed to an uncharacteristic 3-7 in 2008, but Padgett could have a terrific defense with 10 starters back.
A key for the Spiders could be junior Jacquise Moore’s return to football after sitting out a year. A special athlete, Moore is a difference-maker and could be quite a weapon if he’s the QB.
Mount Pleasant moves up from the 2A ranks even though it’s still 2A in enrollment. The Tigers won eight games under coach Mike Johns last season and aren’t far removed from a dynamic 14-1 season in 2007.
Johns was an East Rowan assistant a decade ago.
Johns has 10 starters back, including quarterback Matt Barrier, who passed for 1,500 yards. Linebacker Dewey Andrews made 140 tackles, including six sacks.
Northwest Cabarrus has a healthy Jeremy Cannon back, and he should be one of the state’s top dual-threat QBs. Returning from a torn ACL that wiped out his junior season, Cannon is a 6-foot-2 athlete who runs a 4.6 40 and has the confident look of a D-I prospect.
Kevin Friel, a 300-pounder, is back to anchor the O-line, D.J. Bostick returns to lead the defensive line, and Grant Keyes (eight career picks) is back to head the secondary.
Young kicker Bradley Pinion should be a big plus.
The question mark is depth. The Trojans lost quite a few bodies with the opening of Cox Mill.
There appears to be a gap between the top four and the next four, but give Jay M. Robinson a nod for fifth. The Bulldogs have 16 returning starters and are glad to be returning to 3A. They were 3-8 as a 4A entry last season.
The Ragin’ Bulls of Hickory Ridge return half the starters from a five-win team, but they have to replace star QB Brett Lilly. That won’t be easy.
Central Cabarrus isn’t what it once was athletically, with its enrollment sliced up by the opening of Jay M. Robinson in 2001 and Hickory Ridge in 2007.
The Vikings have suffered losing seasons six of the past seven years and bottomed out at 1-10 in 2008, and the win was by forfeit. Central is also glad to be coming down to 3A after being overmatched by 4A Charlotte schools in recent seasons. The new coach is Chris Shinn.
Cox Mill will go through the usual growing pains associated with a new school. Most of the Chargers were part of Northwest Cabarrus’ program last season.
The Chargers will wear purple and teal, and give them credit. They’re grabbing the bull by the horns right away by opening with Thomasville. They’ll be 50-point underdogs.
2008 SPC standings
Anson County 7-1 10-4
A.L. Brown 7-1 13-3
Sun Valley 5-3 8-4
Parkwood 5-3 7-5
Marvin Ridge 5-3 7-6
Concord 2-6 3-7
Porter Ridge 2-6 3-8
Hickory Ridge 2-6 5-6
Piedmont 1-7 1-10
In: NW Cabarrus, Cent. Cabarrus, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson, Cox Mill
Out: Anson County, Sun Valley, Parkwood, Marvin Ridge, Porter Ridge, Piedmont