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Common Sense says BBQ and Wonders a good mix

Surprisingly, the chatter at Gary’s Barbecue on a sleepy Wednesday afternoon centered on A.L. Brown’s upcoming football game at Porter Ridge.
Gary’s is in China Grove, where the small talk normally is split equally between South Rowan and Carson — with maybe a little West Rowan thrown in like a side dish of slaw — but the Wonders made an impression with their 63-12 mauling of South a few weeks ago.
Rumors that some Raiders are only now climbing back on their feet, two weeks after Brown’s whirlwind visit, are unfounded, but everyone dining at Gary’s admits it was an impressive showing by the guys in green. And at Gary’s they are usually more eager to praise tax increases than the Wonders.
Brown is solid, everyone agrees.
“Now this is the good Ridge that Brown is playing, isn’t it?” asks apron-wearing proprietor Gary Ritchie, mentally juggling Hickory Ridge, Marvin Ridge and Porter Ridge, schools that seemingly arose from brickdust overnight. “There’s just too many Ridges to keep track of.”
For a while there, Ritchie, a big American Legion baseball fan, also had to fret about Hunter Ridge, a first baseman who clocked numerous homers for Randolph County. So far as we know, Hunter doesn’t have a school named for him yet, but give him time. He’s still belting HRs at UNC Wilmington.
At any rate, Porter Ridge, located in Indian Trail, is indeed the “good Ridge” and is not to be confused with Hickory Ridge, the SPC school located in Harrisburg, or Marvin Ridge, the Waxhaw school where the average household income appears to be roughly $4 billion per year.
It also should be noted that Porter Ridge is coached by Blair Hardin, one of Hall of Fame coach Bruce Hardin’s twin sons. Blair was a standout receiver on Brown’s 1998 and 1999 teams.
Are the Wonders legit contenders for their first state title since 1997 when current Leon County (Fla.) commissioner Nick Maddox was still running to daylight?
Maybe. They’ll find out tonight. While sixth-ranked Brown has played like one of the best teams in 3A the first three weeks, 4A Porter Ridge has played like one of the best teams in the world. Porter Ridge has scored 55, 63 and 59 points in liquidating three opponents.
Before stopping at Gary’s on Wednesday, a visit to A.L. Brown found coach Mike Newsome scratching his smooth head after watching scary film of PR that he’d definitely rate NC-17.
“I coached against some great teams when I was at Butler, “ Newsome said. “On film, this is one of the best teams I’ve ever seen.”
Safety Kaleel Hollis echoed his coach’s thoughts.
“The film shows they’re a well-coached team,” he said. “They don’t make many mistakes. I wouldn’t say their technique is perfect, but it’s close to perfect. Sure, we’d love to go down there and blow those guys out, but everyone realizes this will be a very tough game.”
Tough for both teams. So tough even the folks at Gary’s are interested.
“Can South beat East?” Gary asked, finally changing the subject.
That’s an easier pick, but one Common Sense won’t have to make for a while.
The picks were 5-0 last week (What else is new?), and Common Sense would have been 6-0 if Carson had gotten to play. The record for the season is 13-3.
Friday’s picks:
A.L. Brown 28, Porter Ridge 24
Still remember how Davie went down to Indian Trail and dismantled the Ridgers in last year’s 4A playoffs. Wonders can win there too.
Davie 24, Lexington 20
Speaking of the War Eagles, their size and depth should offset 2A Lexington’s wheels.
Salisbury 42, South 17
It’s true that Salisbury spent a lot of emotion last week, but it’s still too talented for the Raiders.
Hickory Ridge 27, East 7
Hickory Ridge is not the best Ridge, but it should be too strong for the Mustangs
Carson 27, Robinson 14
Robinson is the only SPC team without a win. That should continue.
Saturday’s picks:
South Pointe, S.C. 21, West Rowan 14
Common Sense picks the Falcons to lose every five years or so. Should be terrific game between two champions.
University Christian, Fla. 28, North Rowan 12
When in doubt, always assume Florida teams are going to be pretty good.

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