Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 26, 2013

CHARLOTTE — They say when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.
Life handed A.L. Brown’s football team the state 4A champions, the Mallard Creek Mavericks, and the Wonders made the most of it.
Following Kannapolis’ 49-to-7 loss on the road to Mallard Creek on Friday, Coach Mike Newsome turned the loss around in his postgame remarks.
He said his players have got to move forward, looking to the final two home games with determination.
“I really feel like playing good teams like this will prepare you for the playoffs. You won’t face a better team than this,” Newsome told his players.
“As soon as you walk off this field, put this one behind you,” Newsome said.
Coming off a 14-to-0 loss at home to Hough last week, the tone of the game was set on the opening play from scrimmage, as Mallard Creek senior running back Lawrence Pittman ran the ball 55 yards for a touchdown.
On the Wonders’ first possession, the Mavericks held them behind their own 20, setting up a short punt and, eight plays later, a second touchdown.
The Mavericks kept up pressure on A.L. Brown’s defense, opting to keep the ball on the ground for nine out of 12 plays in the first quarter.
But the Wonders defense responded in the second quarter, several times penetrating into the backfield to hurry sophomore quarterback James Smith.
Late in the first half, Kannapolis defensive lineman Keechan Ware scooped up a Maverick fumble that set up a 77-yard, 12-play drive for the Wonders’ only touchdown.
Kannapolis senior quarterback Andrew Ramirez completed five of 12 passes for 107 yards, with one interception.
Sophomore quarterback Damon Johnson completed two out of six passes for 27 yards, with two interceptions.
Speaking to reporters, Newsome said the team came in “wanting to win,” and that he’d studied film of previous games carefully, trying to keep the Wonders from making mistakes that he said caused other teams to “implode” early.
Newsome praised his team’s efforts in the second quarter, when the Wonders kept moving the ball steadily.
“We know we need to control the ball,” Newsome said.
Now standing at 6-3, and 3-2 in the MECKA 4A conference, the Wonders’ regular season schedule ends with two games at home: West Charlotte next week and Hopewell on November 8.
Despite the Lions’ winless record going into this week, “We cannot take West Charlotte lightly,” Newsome told his team.
Hopewell now stands at 4-5 overall, 3-2 in the conference.
Two solid wins at home can secure the Wonders a better playoff berth – and may even take some of the “sour” out of Friday’s loss at Mallard Creek.