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Prep Football: Previews, picks

Post rankings: 1. A.L. Brown (8-2), 2. West Rowan (8-2), 3. Davie (4-6), 4, Carson (6-4), 5. North Rowan (4-6), 6. East Rowan (2-8), 7. Salisbury (3-7), 8. South Rowan (0-10).
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The only sure thing about prep football picks is they’re bound to struggle sooner or later, and last Friday was the worst day of the season for prognosticating.
I did mention last week that Senior Night can change the emotional level for teams, but I failed to heed my own warning. Carson and Davie produced home upsets on Senior Nights for two missed picks, while East Rowan nearly provided another upset with a thrilling comeback.
The picks were a dismal 5-3 on a Friday when simply picking the home teams would’ve produced a 7-1 record. In addition to Carson and Davie, West Rowan, Salisbury and A.L. Brown all won at home. North Rowan (picked to win) lost at Thomasville. South Rowan also lost on the road.
Will Senior Night have a similar effect on the home teams this week? It might.
The picks are 51-9 (.850 percentage) heading into the final Friday of the regular season.
There are two county games on the schedule: East Rowan at South Rowan; Salisbury at North.
A.L. Brown, West Rowan, Carson and North Rowan appear to be safely in the playoff brackets, while Davie probably needs a win tonight.
We’ll find out who’s in and who’s going where on Saturday.
•••
SALISBURY at NORTH ROWAN
RECORDS: Salisbury (3-7, 1-3 CCC). North Rowan (4-6, 3-1 CCC).
LAST WEEK: Salisbury beat West Davidson, 34-0. North struggled offensively in a 17-7 loss at Thomasville.
THE SERIES: Salisbury leads, 27-21-2, but North has outscored the Hornets, 88-7, the past two seasons. The Cavaliers forced four turnovers and romped, 47-7, last year. The Hornets’ most recent win was in 2012.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Salisbury’s Antwond Glenn is the county’s No. 2 rusher with 797 yards and has 1,737 for his career. Former Hornet Eric Gibson has 54 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles for the Cavaliers.
OUTLOOK: It should be the best game in the series in several years. North has clobbered the Hornets in the last two meetings, but this time Salisbury has the experience advantage.
A North win combined with a Lexington victory against Thomasville would give the Cavaliers a share of the CCC championship. Close CCC losses to East Davidson, Thomasville and Lexington don’t leave the Hornets much hope for making the playoff bracket, but they’ll be playing for pride.
Both team’s defenses are better than their offenses. Turnovers should decide it.
PICK: North 17, Salisbury 14
•••
EAST ROWAN at SOUTH ROWAN
RECORDS: East Rowan (2-8, 1-7 SPC). South Rowan (0-10, 0-8 SPC).
LAST WEEK: East wiped out a 21-point deficit against Central Cabarrus but still lost, 34-24. The Raiders surrendered 300 passing yards and were overwhelmed, 66-16, by Robinson.
THE SERIES: South leads, 33-17, including a shocking 28-14 victory last season. East had won four straight in the series until the Raiders rushed for 296 yards and broke through in 2014 on East’s Senior Night.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: East Rowan athletes Max Wall, Naquis Caldwell and Keith Tillman will provide challenges for a South defense that is allowing 42.2 points per game. South kicker Brennan Lambert has nine field goals, one short of the school season record. Marshall Long averages 46.4 yards per punt and is on the verge of setting school and county season records.
OUTLOOK: It’s been a tough season for East — and a tougher one for South. East is more talented, but that also was the case last year when the Raiders pulled off one of the upsets of the decade.
It’s the finale for the seniors on both teams, and not many guys get a chance to win their last high school game.
PICK: East 35, South 14
•••
WEST ROWAN at HICKORY RIDGE
RECORDS: West Rowan (8-2, 7-1 SPC). Hickory Ridge (6-4, 6-2 SPC).
LAST WEEK: West Rowan mauled Cox Mill, 41-0. Hickory Ridge suffered a surprising 24-6 loss to Carson.
THE SERIES: West leads 2-0, winning 45-24, in 2013 and 25-28, last season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: West’s Jovon Quarles had a career game with 13 carries for 177 yards against the Ragin’ Bulls last season. Hickory Ridge QB Greg Waslo is similar to West Rowan QB Kacey Otto in that he runs as well as he throws.
OUTLOOK: Hickory Ridge turned in a flat performance against Carson last week, but coach Marty Paxton will have his team fired up on Senior Night. West Rowan moved past a devastating loss to Concord and took care of business against Cox Mill, the sign of a mature team.
While West is certain to be in the 3A playoffs and Hickory Ridge is sure to be in the 3AA playoffs, this is a huge game. West can still tie for first in the SPC if Robinson knocks off Concord. Hickory Ridge can still tie for second if it beats West.
PICK: West Rowan 28, Hickory Ridge 14
•••
CARSON at COX MILL
RECORDS: Carson (6-4, 4-4 SPC). Cox Mill (2-8, 2-6 SPC).
THE SERIES: It’s 1-1. Carson rolled, 49-21, in 2013. The Chargers destroyed the Cougars, 56-20, in 2014 and knocked them out of the playoffs.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Carson QB Owen White has had a terrific season for a sophomore and has thrown the ball a lot for a Joe Pinyan-coached team the past two weeks.
Cox Mill Jonathan Earl caught four long TD passes against Carson last year, but he was on crutches for the West Rowan game. Tommy Dawkins Jr. anchors a large, quick Cox Mill defensive line that may be tough for the Cougars to run against.
OUTLOOK: Carson has tremendous momentum after last week’s win, but Cox Mill, playing its final game, will be ready to rumble on Senior Night. Carson’s defense has been underrated all season and should make the difference.
Cox Mill’s only wins have come at the expense of South Rowan and East Rowan.
Carson is headed for the 3A playoffs.
PICK: Carson 21, Cox Mill 7
•••
HOPEWELL at A.L. BROWN
RECORDS: Hopewell (1-9, 0-5 MECKA). A.L. Brown (8-2, 3-2 MECKA).
LAST WEEK: Hopewell nearly shocked the world before losing, 14-13, to Vance. A.L. Brown had a dominant second half and handled West Charlotte, 34-7.
THE SERIES: It’s 1-1. Hopewell upset the Wonders, 19-14, in 2013. The Wonders rolled, 52-7, in 2014.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: A.L. Brown QB Damon Johnson threw three TD passes in the romp against Hopewell last season, while Sandon McCoy bulldozed for 149 yards on 16 carries.
OUTLOOK: The Wonders have lost only to Hough and Mallard Creek, two of the state’s best, and they should be a tough out in the smaller subdivision of the 4A state playoffs.
Hopewell’s Titans have lost nine in a row, but their performances the last two weeks indicate they’re getting better. They may be able to hang with the Wonders for a half.
PICK: A.L. Brown 28, Hopewell 7
•••
DAVIE at PARKLAND
RECORDS: Davie (4-6, 2-3 CPC). Parkland (3-7, 0-5 CPC).
LAST WEEK: Davie won, 40-33, against Mount Tabor in a contest that essentially was a playoff game. Parkland came close to a monumental upset in a 27-26 loss to North Davidson.
THE SERIES: It’s 5-5, but Davie has crushed Parkland’s Mustangs, 50-0 and 58-6, the past two seasons.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Davie receiver Ben Ellis had two TD catches against Parkland last season. Davie junior QB Chris Reynolds is having a phenomenal season with 2,362 passing yards and 23 TD passes.
OUTLOOK: Two weeks ago, this one figured to be routine for Davie because Parkland lost big to Reagan, Mount Tabor and West Forsyth and lost by three TDs to sixth-place R.J. Reynolds.
Parkland’s elevated performance last week is a little scary, but Davie’s prolific passing attack should prevail in a game it needs to secure a playoff berth.
PICK: Davie 35, Parkland 20

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