Prep Football: Conference play finally starts for West, East, Carson
By Mike London
A six-team league means just five conference games, so even though it’s October, North Piedmont Conference, South Piedmont Conference and Central Piedmont Conference teams will be playing conference openers tonight.
Carson may be 1-5, but you can bet that coach Joe Pinyan has reminded the Cougars several hundred times this week that they are still 0-0 in the league, where it counts, and if they can win tonight, well, they’re tied for first place.
Coach John Fitz probably gave the same speech to East Rowan (2-4). West Rowan and Davie County survived fearsome non-league schedules with acceptable 3-3 records, and now they get a clean slate.
A.L. Brown (5-1) doesn’t need a clean slate and probably should be ranked in 3A right now, but the Wonders also are opening league play. Don’t be surprised if they running-clock a few SPC opponents.
Salisbury (5-1) takes a deep breath tonight. The Hornets are off. They already have four league wins in the bank in the nine-team Central Carolina Conference where league play started a month ago. Next season, it will be the 10-team Central Carolina Conference. The Hornets will be playing the new school, Oak Grove, the first week of October in 2018.
SHS coach Brian Hinson will be working tonight, scouting Ledford, in person. But he’ll kick back a little on Saturday.
“The best part of the open week is Saturday morning,” Hinson said. “No laundry and no clean-up. It will be a chance to relax and watch college football.”
The picks were 3-0 last week, although seventh-ranked North Rowan made things exciting with a one-point decision over lightly regarded South Stanly. The picks are 24-7 for the season.
This is a difficult night to predict because of two match-ups in which both teams are truly desperate for a win. South Rowan-West Davidson and Carson-North Iredell fit that description.
It’s also a night when schools that went their separate ways four years ago have been brought back together by realignment. Those match-ups included North Rowan-Albemarle, Carson-North Iredell and Central Cabarrus-A.L. Brown.
South Rowan (0-6, 0-3 CCC) at West Davidson(1-5, 0-4 CCC)
History: First meeting
Points: South has been outscored 242-64, while West Davidson has been outscored 188-53.
Rankings: South is rated No. 359 in the state by MaxPreps, while West Davidson is No. 333.
The season: West Davidson’s win came at the expense of 1A South Davidson, which is ranked No. 402.
South has shown the ability to move the ball, but not to finish drives. Turnovers have destroyed the Raiders’ chances.
What happens: Even if South loses, a former Raider will win. Brian Billings, who was a good offensive lineman at South, is an assistant coach for the Green Dragons.
South appears to be the more talented team and can win if it avoids turnovers. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Pick: South Rowan 19, West Davidson 14
West Rowan (3-3, 0-0 NPC at East Rowan (2-4, 0-0 NPC)
History: West leads the series 27-23-1. West rolled 49-20 last season with Payne Stolsworth throwing for 204 yards and Martavio Rankin running for 122. East’s most recent win was a wipeout of the Falcons in Mount Ulla in 2014.
Points: West has been outscored 128-117, while East has been outscored 178-142.
Rankings: West is ranked No. 124 in the state by MaxPreps, while East has dropped to No. 270
The season: East blasted Central Davidson and South Rowan early in the season but has been demolished in its last three outings. West is headed in the other direction and has won its last two, including a comeback road victory at Concord.
What happens: West has won 60 of its last 63 county games, but it should be noted that the Mustangs are responsible for two of those three losses. East had had two weeks to prepare, but it will be a shock if the Falcons don’t improve to 10-0 in county games under coach Joe Nixon and start 1-0 in the NPC.
Pick: West Rowan 28, East Rowan 7
Carson (1-5, 0-0 NPC at North Iredell (0-6, 0-0 NPC)
History: Carson leads the series 4-3. North Iredell won the first three meetings (2006-08) when the Cougars were getting their program started. The Cougars won the four most recent contests (2009-12).
Points: North Iredell has been outscored 213-39. Carson has been outscored 212-63.
Rankings:Carson is No. 298, while North Iredell is No. 364.
The season: Carson has dropped five straight since winning against South Rowan on opening night. The Cougars lost in overtime to Central Cabarrus two weeks ago. They were off last week.
North Iredell has lost a school-record 20 in a row and hasn’t won since beating West Iredell on Oct. 16, 2015.
What happens: Carson made some strides in its last game and has played a much tougher schedule than North Iredell. Carson should spoil the Raiders’ homecoming festivities.
Pick: Carson 27, North Iredell 14
North Rowan (5-1, 2-0 YVC) at Albemarle (3-3, 2-0 YVC)
History: Albemarle has won seven of the 11 meetings. Albemarle won four straight when the schools clashed as YVC foes from 2009-12. North’s most recent win in the series was an opening-night pummeling of the Bulldogs in 2006.
Points: North Rowan has outscored opponents 208-111. Albemarle has been outscored 74-53.
Rankings: North Rowan is ranked No. 135 in the state by MaxPreps. Albemarle is No. 326.
The season: North Rowan has won five straight since losing to West Rowan in Week 2. Albemarle has been involved in shutouts four straight weeks, being shut out twice before blanking YVC clubs Chatham Central and North Moore. A 6-0 win against a North Moore club that was pummeled by North Rowan wasn’t impressive. Albemarle won 1AA state titles as recently as 2009 and 2010, but the program has dropped off quite a bit in recent seasons.
What happens: Albemarle obviously has a stout defense and should be able to stay in the game, but North Rowan has a lot more firepower.
Pick: North Rowan 21, Albemarle 7
Central Cabarrus (3-3, 0-0 SPC ) at A.L. Brown (5-1, 0-0 SPC)
History: Even when the Vikings had future NFL back Natrone Means running wild, they couldn’t beat the Wonders. A.L. Brown has won all 24 meetings. The most recent was a 39-7 victory by the Wonders in 2012.
Points: Central has scored 163, while allowing 166. A.L. Brown has scored 205, while allowing 75
Rankings: Central is No. 198 on the MaxPreps list, while the Wonders have moved up to No. 40.
The season: Central Cabarrus’ three wins came against teams with a combined record of 5-13. A.L. Brown has beaten Mooresville, Davie and West Rowan.
What happens: The Wonders proved they could pass in their last game, and there aren’t any questions about their defense. The Wonders should roll.
Pick: A.L. Brown 42, Central Cabarrus 13
R.J. Reynolds (5-1, 0-0 CPC ) at Davie County (3-3, 0-0 CPC)
History: Davie leads the all-time series 21-13 and crushed the Demons 54-7 last season.
Points: RJR has scored 188, while allowing 126. Davie has scored 157 and allowed 118.
Rankings: RJR is No.77 according to MaxPreps, while Davie is No. 61.
The season: Reynolds’ lone loss was a blowout against 2A power Reidsville. Reynolds has beaten one good team — SW Guilford (5-2). Davie’s losses are all to top 40 teams — Page, North Davidson and A.L. Brown.
What happens: Cooper Wall had two touchdown catches in the first five minutes last season, and lighting could strike twice. Despite the difference in records, Davie should start 1-0 in the CPC.
Pick: Davie 31, R.J. Reynolds 14
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