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Prep Football: Picks, Previews

Salisbury Post rankings: 1. A.L. Brown (9-2), 2. West Rowan (8-3), 3.Davie (5-6), 4. Carson (7-4), 5. North Rowan (5-6), 6. East Rowan (3-8), 7. Salisbury (3-8), 8. South Rowan (0-11).
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The picks were 5-1 with another Senior Night miss. Hickory Ridge’s fired-up seniors knocked off West Rowan, a mildly surprising result, especially after Hickory Ridge was flattened by Carson the previous week.
The picks were a respectable 56-10 for the regular season and now we move on to the playoffs.
An unexpected Carson-West Rowan rematch highlights tonight’s first round. While the bad news is a probable traffic jam in Mount Ulla, the good news is that matchup guarantees a Rowan County team will be in the second round.
North Rowan’s chances don’t appear great tonight at Winston-Salem Carver unless the Cavaliers play their best game of the season. Coach Ben Hampton calls it a “tall task,” for his banged-up team. That’s coach-speak for “We’re big underdogs.”
Davie earned a playoff berth by closing the regular season with two wins, but the War Eagles’ reward was a long road trip to Laurinburg and a date with Scotland County, the state’s best team, at least according to the sportswriters who vote in the Associated Press poll.
One of the most compelling first-round playoff games should be A.L. Brown at Reagan, a matchup of evenly matched 4A teams. The NCHSAA seeding process always produces injustices, but the Wonders had a pretty terrific regular season to get stuck with a No. 12 seed and a first-round trip.
Kickoffs are at 7:30 p.m.
•••
CARSON at WEST ROWAN
3A SEEDS: 11. Carson, 6. West Rowan.
RECORDS: Carson (7-4), West Rowan (8-3).
LAST WEEK: Carson rolled, 41-14, against Cox Mill. West Rowan lost, 28-21, at Hickory Ridge.
THE SERIES: West has won nine of 10 meetings. Carson’s lone win was 28-21 in 2013. Carson lost in two overtimes on its last trip to Mount Ulla in 2014.
West won, 28-7, in this year’s regular-season matchup on Oct. 1 at Carson.
NEXT: The Carson-West Rowan winner would host (14) Forestview or travel to (3) West Henderson.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Carson QB Owen White and receiver Brandon Huneycutt have been productive in recent weeks and have transformed the Cougars from all-run to a balanced offense. Carson fullback Dylan Livengood produced a 100-yard game against West last season and had another one this year. Carson linebacker Ryan Bearden has played at a high level all season.
For West, Kortez Weeks has caught three TD passes in his two games against Carson.
Carson also brings out the best in West QB Kacey Otto. He had a career passing game (334 yards) against the Cougars last season and he had a 100-yard rushing game against Carson this season.
OUTLOOK: Two weeks ago, Carson beat Hickory Ridge. Last week, Hickory Ridge beat West.
Does that mean the Cougars are playing better right now than the Falcons? Maybe.
It definitely should be closer than last time because White missed the first meeting with a concussion, and West’s injured defensive line monster Derrick Moreland was healthy for the first meeting.
Still, history is all on West’s side and West is the faster team and the bigger, stronger team.
PICK: West Rowan 21, Carson 14
•••
NORTH ROWAN at WINSTON-SALEM CARVER
2A SEEDS: 9. North Rowan, 8. Carver.
RECORDS: North Rowan (5-6), Carver (7-4).
LAST WEEK: North won, 21-13, against Salisbury. Carver routed South Stokes, 48-7.
THE SERIES: Carver has battled West Rowan (2008) and Salisbury (2011) in the playoffs, but this will be the fast, athletic Yellow Jackets’ first meeting with the Cavaliers.
NEXT: The worst thing about being in the 8-9 first-round game is that the No. 1 seed awaits the winner. That’s Shelby, so neither North nor Carver has an exceptionally bright future.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Quarterback Corbin Smith and receiver Alonzo Sirleaf stepped forward for the Cavaliers last week and helped them get past Salisbury. Carver QB Elijah McRae’s running ability is North’s biggest concern.
OUTLOOK: Carver’s losses were to Dudley, Asheville, Statesville and West Stokes. North Rowan also lost to Statesville and West Stokes. Carver played both of those teams closer games than North did.
Carver is 5-2 at home, while North is 2-3 on the road.
Statistically, Carver has the stronger offense and the stronger defense, and North will be minus two of its defensive studs. The Cavaliers lost dynamic end Zion DeBose and leading tackler Javin Goodine to injuries late in the Salisbury game.
PICK: Carver 26, North Rowan 14
•••
A.L. BROWN at PFAFFTOWN REAGAN
4A SEEDS: 12. A.L. Brown, 5. Reagan.
RECORDS: A.L. Brown (9-2), Reagan (8-3).
LAST WEEK: A.L. Brown thumped Hopewell, 42-6. Reagan romped, 45-0, against R.J. Reynolds.
THE SERIES: Reagan won, 50-42, in the first round of the playoffs last season. The Wonders had 458 yards of offense in that one but still got outscored.
NEXT: The winner of this game hosts (13) High Point Central or travels to (4) South Caldwell.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Sandon McCoy is a 1,000-yard rusher for the Wonders Ben Skradski threw three TD passes for the Reagan Raiders last week.
OUTLOOK: Both teams played in excellent leagues. Reagan’s schedule, which included hard-fought, non-conference losses to unbeaten East Forsyth and strong Greensboro Page, was rated as one of the state’s toughest.
North Davidson went 10-1 but lost to Reagan 40-6, which tells you something about Reagan. Reagan also beat a very strong South Iredell squad.
On the other hand, Reagan squeaked past average Mount Tabor and Glenn teams, and Reagan’s 35-13 loss to West Forsyth in late October led to Reagan sharing the CPC title with North Davidson and West Forsyth.
Reagan is 4-1 at home. A.L. Brown is 4-1 away from Memorial Stadium, with the only road loss coming by a 37-27 score at Mallard Creek.
While Reagan has the more explosive offense (43.1 points per game), the Wonders have a far superior defense. The Wonders will try to control the ball with McCoy pounding for 6 yards at a time. That will keep Reagan’s powerful offense off the field.
PICK: A.L. Brown 28, Reagan 24
•••
DAVIE at SCOTLAND COUNTY
4A SEEDS: 15. Davie, 2. Scotland County.
RECORDS: Davie (5-6), Scotland County (11-0).
LAST WEEK: Davie beat Parkland, 39-19. Scotland beat Richmond County, 28-21.
THE SERIES: With the QB combo of Brad Corriher and Garrett Benge, Davie beat Scotland, 22-17, in the second round of the 2005 playoffs in the only previous meeting.
NEXT: The winner moves on to face (10) Southeast Guilford or (7) North Davidson. Davie lost, 45-28, to North Davidson earlier this season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Davie junior QB Chris Reynolds has thrown 26 TD passes. Scotland sophomore RB Zamir White has astounding numbers — 233 carries, 1,908 yards, 38 TDs. He scored six TDs vs. Independence.
OUTLOOK: Davie has a prolific offense, but the Fighting Scots have scored 105 more points than the War Eagles. Scotland also has a much stronger defense. Davie has allowed 366 points, while Scotland has allowed 182.
Reynolds and his receivers could make things exciting for a half, but Scotland should take control at some point. Most believe either Scotland or Dudley will win the 4A West bracket.
PICK: Scotland 35, Davie 17

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