Prep Football: Week 5 Previews, picks
SALISBURY POST RANKINGS: 1. A.L. Brown (4-0), 2. West Rowan (2-1), 3. Davie (1-3), 4. Carson (2-1), 5. North Rowan (1-3), 6. East Rowan (1-3), 7. Salisbury (1-3), 8. South Rowan (0-3).
North, East and Salisbury — three schools that won playoff games and combined for 22 wins last season — are all 1-3, so is it time for Rowan County football fans to panic?
Maybe … but maybe not. Salisbury is actually ahead of last season’s pace when it started 0-4. North started 2-2 last season and ended up winning 10 games. East stood 2-4 in 2014 before it figured things out and made the deepest playoff run of any South Piedmont Conference team.
Having said that, it may get worse before it gets better. Salisbury, North and East all are underdogs tonight.
The picks were a surprisingly strong 6-1 last week (Carson-Central Cabarrus was the lone miss) and are a stellar 18-2 for the season. Carson has been responsible for both misses — once with an unexpected win. Carson also is the toughest pick tonight. A.L. Brown is off. Games are at 7:30 p.m. Go see a game … and be nice!
CARSON at EAST ROWAN
RECORDS: Carson (2-1, 0-1 SPC). East Rowan(1-3, 0-2 SPC)
LAST MEETING: Carson rolled, 48-21, at home in 2014.
THE SERIES: Carson leads, 5-4, and has won three straight. East’s most recent wins came in 2012 when the Mustangs beat the Cougars in the regular season and the first round of the playoffs.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: East junior Max Wall has 393 rushing yards, 356 passing yards and 136 receiving yards. East senior receiver Naquis Caldwell has 17 catches for 355 yards and five TDs.
Carson linebacker Ryan Bearden has been a turnover-creating beast and cornerback Brenden Westbrook has been a big-play guy.
OUTLOOK: While East has the county’s most prolific offense in terms of yards gained, it’s also committed turnovers at the rate of a basketball team — 19 in four outings. If East limits turnovers to something reasonable — two or three — it has the firepower and skill-position athletes to beat the Cougars.
PREDICTION: Carson 31, East Rowan 28
SOUTH ROWAN at CONCORD
RECORDS: South Rowan (0-3, 0-1 SPC). Concord (3-1, 2-0 SPC)
LAST MEETING: South lost by a respectable 35-21 to the Spiders in 2014.
THE SERIES: Concord leads, 11-10-1. That’s surprisingly close, but a lot of the meetings came during South’s glory years from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. South’s most recent win in the series was in 1984. Concord has won the last two seasons.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Concord QB Keenan Black rushed for 100 yards and threw for 192 when the Spiders cruised, 49-28, against East Rowan.
South Rowan kicker Brennan Lambert has boomed field goals of 51 and 50 yards this season.
OUTLOOK: Concord is 18-0 in the SPC the last three seasons, so this isn’t winnable for South. Realistic goals for the Raiders are to get better and to stay healthy.
PREDICTION: Concord 42, South Rowan 13
NORTHWEST CABARRUS at WEST ROWAN
RECORDS: NWC (1-2, 1-1 SPC). West Rowan (2-1, 1-0 SPC)
LAST MEETING: West forced three turnovers and managed to win ugly by a 13-0 tally in 2014.
THE SERIES: West leads 18-7. West has won 11 straight. Northwest Cabarrus hasn’t beaten the Falcons since a 20-14 victory in 2002.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: NWC junior QB Damian Bertino made big plays to pull out a wild, 35-34 win against South Rowan last week. That victory broke his school’s 11-game losing streak.
West Rowan junior running back Jovon Quarles exploded for 141 yards last week, and West has a potent 1-2 receiving punch in Kortez Weeks and Juwan Houston. They’ve combined for 30 catches and 395 receiving yards. Free safety Malcolm Ingram had two interceptions and was the difference-maker in last week’s 28-21 win against Robinson.
OUTLOOK: Unless the Falcons turn it over five times, they should be in good shape.
PREDICTION: West Rowan 35, NW Cabarrus 7
SALISBURY at LEDFORD
RECORDS: Salisbury (1-3). Ledford (3-1).
LAST MEETING: Ledford, the school which produced NFL fullbacks Brad Hoover and Madison Hedgecock, is 3A now, and the schools haven’t met since they were CCC rivals in 2008. Salisbury won 24-7 on the field in that one, but that was one of the games the Hornets forfeited that season.
THE SERIES: Tied 8-8. There were some serious scraps when the teams were league rivals.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Salisbury cornerback Shaquez Strickland has scored two touchdowns. Daeshaude White has a kickoff return TD.
Ledford QB Tyler Scott has made electifying plays.
OUTLOOK: Ledford has taken care of CCC teams East Davidson and West Davidson, and the Panthers’ only loss was to strong 4A North Davidson. Unless Salisbury’s offense suddenly figures things out, it could be another tough night.
PREDICTION: Ledford 27, Salisbury 7
SOUTH IREDELL at NORTH ROWAN
RECORDS: South Iredell (1-3). North Rowan (1-3).
LAST MEETING: South Iredell was a CCC member in 2004 when North whipped the Vikings 27-21.
THE SERIES: North has never lost to South Iredell and holds an 8-0-1 lead in the all-time series The tie was in 1969.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: South Iredell lineman Alex Gourley, a 285-pound center is an All-State player and has committed to play for Brown, an Ivy League school. South Iredell running back Tyree Hallman has 277 rushing yards.
North Rowan’s defense has generally played well. Safety Eric Gibson had a big effort in last week’s 21-6 loss to Davie. Defensive end Jake Pritchard has four fumble recoveries.
OUTLOOK: South Iredell has a well-balanced offense and built momentum last week with a 38-36, three-overtime win against Mount Pleasant, the school that knocked North Rowan out of the 2014 playoffs. Meanwhile, mistake-prone North is on a three-game slide that isn’t likely to stop tonight.
PREDICTION: South Iredell 27, North Rowan 14
HOPEWELL at DAVIE
RECORDS: Hopewell (1-3). Davie (1-3).
THE SERIES: This is the first meeting. Hopewell is in Huntersville and has an enrollment of 1,700 students. It’s a MECKA member, which means it tangles annually with schools such as Mallard Creek and Hough. Hopewell knocked off A.L. Brown in 2013. Former Mallard Creek o-line coach Charlie Gray was hired as Hopewell’s coach in May.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Davie’s passing game — quarterback Chris Reynolds and receivers Ben Ellis and Cooper Wall — accounts for 280 yards per game.
OUTLOOK: Should be as even as the records suggest. Hopewell routed Garinger and lost reasonably close games to Mooresville, Lake Norman and Olympic. Give Davie the nod as the home team. Plus, Davie’s coming off a confidence-boosting win, while Hopewell has dropped three straight.
PREDICTION: Davie 24, Hopewell 17