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Friday matchups: Carson at Hickory Ridge

nTime: 7:30 p.m.
n2009 records: Carson 3-8; Hickory Ridge 5-6
nSeries: First meeting
nNext week: Carson is at North Rowan; Hickory Ridge travels to Waxhaw to play Marvin Ridge
nGame notes: It’s a big game for Carson in Harrisburg because it’s a tossup, and while the Cougars are taking them one at a time like everyone else, a road victory to open the season would be a huge building block toward the first winning campaign in Carson history.
Carson owns only one road win ever ó last year’s amazing triumph at Lake Norman on a Saturday.
Looking at Carson’s schedule, which includes CCC powers Salisbury and West Davidson, tonight’s game is one the Cougars really need if they’re going to keep climbing. At this point, Carson’s only going to be favored in two of its NPC games.
Hickory Ridge is even younger than Carson, which is in its fourth season. The Ragin’ Bulls of the SPC are beginning their third year and coach Marty Paxton’s team was more than respectable in 2008. The Ragin’ Bulls lost 21-6 to A.L. Brown, a pretty good gauge of respectability.
Hickory Ridge has 11 starters back, but fast QB Brett Lilly isn’t one of them. He made the Bulls go.
Carson is missing athlete Daniel Yates, big O-lineman D.J. Safrit, receiver Travis Hayes and QB Ryan Jones, among others, but it has 16 starters back, and that’s 16 different guys, as coach Mark Woody is a believer in two-platoon football.
Shaun Warren, Jacorian Brown and Cliff Long should form a terrific 1-2-3 punch in the backfield.
Both lines should be stronger, and the Cougars have good, experienced players on defense, including all-county safety Jenson Harden, corner Zack Grkman, nose Micah Honeycutt and linebacker Chris Barnhardt.

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