High school football: Weather, previews, picks
By Mike London
Another football week is being shaken up by weather.
Local varsity games have been moved up to Thursday night at 7:30 p.m., with the exception of the Statesville at East Rowan contest.
That one, and it’s a big one, is still set for Friday in Granite Quarry.
West Rowan, North Rowan, Salisbury and Davie County play at home tonight. Carson makes an intra-county road trip to West Rowan. South Rowan goes to Central Davidson. A.L. Brown plays at Robinson.
It will be a busy high school Thursday. In addition to a nearly full slate of varsity football, West Rowan, Carson and Davie (which enjoyed a first-round bye) play home volleyball matches in the second round of the playoffs tonight. South Rowan is at Forbush.
It’s become a very offensive-minded football year in the county, with East Rowan’s Sammy Pinckney rolling up two 200-yard rushing games in the past three weeks, and West Rowan’s Jaden Perry romping for 181 and 278 in his last two games. Pinckney is over 1,000 yards for the season now. North Rowan’s Malcolm Wilson has been pounding away all year and still leads the county with more than 1,200 rushing yards.
The 200-yard rushing game once was quite rare in Rowan, but there have been six this year with Wilson and Pinckney accounting for two apiece and Perry and Carson’s Jerry Cipres producing one each.
There have been 14 200-yard games in the county in the last four seasons. West’s Jovon Quarles, North’s Jaleel Webster and East brothers Max and Sam Wall contributed to that total.
Keep an eye on the East Rowan-North Iredell game next week. North Iredell’s defense already has yielded career rushing games to Perry and Cipres. If Pinckney gets his usual 30 carries he might put up the first 300-yard rushing game of the season.
The county record for rushing yards in a game is 356 by West’s K.P. Parks in 2009 against Carson.
A school passing record fell last week, with West’s Payne Stolsworth throwing his 66th and 67th career TD passes to move past B.J. Sherrill. Stolsworth is also threatening the county record of 74 set by East’s Samuel Wyrick in 2014. This season, Stolsworth has 19 TD passes. No one else has more than nine.
Besides Stolsworth, two more Rowan QBs, North’s Willis Mitchell and South’s Drew Huffman (who missed one game with a concussion) have moved past 1,000 passing yards for the season. There was a time when that was a huge milestone.
Two more Rowan QBs, Salisbury’s Mike McLean and East’s Logan Forbis, should get to 1,000 with no problem. Yes, teams are throwing more than they used to. South and Salisbury have been ground-oriented programs over the years, but they are filling the air with footballs.
McLean and Huffman are their respective team’s primary runners. Both had games last week in which they rushed for more than 100 yards while throwing for more than 100. That also was unusual back in the day.
The county scoring tightened up last week, as North Stanly kept Wilson out of the end zone. He has 15 TDs, but West’s Jalen Houston gained a lot of ground with a rushing TD, a receiving TD and a return TD against North Iredell. Now he has 14. Perry and Sam Wall have 10 TDs each.
The picks were 7-1 last week, with the miss coming on East’s win against South Iredell. South Iredell was missing QB Ty Everhart, but that’s still the second huge win for East in two weeks.
The picks are 41-14 for the season.
Statesville 21, East 14 (Friday)
It’s a clash of North Piedmont Conference co-leaders.
If East (5-4, 2-1) wins, the Mustangs are going to at least be part of the conference title picture.
East has a pretty good chance to win. Wet conditions should down the Greyhounds some.
Statesville’s points differential (plus-197) and defensive numbers (65 points allowed) are scary and the Greyhounds (6-3, 2-1) stomped a Carson team last week that went down to the wire with East.
On the other hand, Statesville blew a lead against South Iredell in the fourth quarter, and East handled South Iredell.
Statesville’s offense is young and is led by sophomore QB Nebanye Moore (13 TD passes) and sophomore running back Chavion Smith (10 rushing TDs). Eight different Greyhounds have caught a touchdown pass.
The teams have similar offensive philosophies. Both will run the ball about 75 percent of the time.
East is 2-11 against the Greyhounds, with the most recent victory by the Mustangs coming in 2009.
Statesville thumped the Mustangs, 47-28, last season.
West 28, Carson 14
West is 3-1 at home, while Carson is 1-4 on the road.
While West, North and East have the county’s top three running backs, Carson’s committee still makes the Cougars the county’s top rushing team.
Carson (3-6, 1-2) should be able to rush for 200-plus against a West team that is allowing 25 points per game, but Carson’s defense has allowed 30 per game and is unlikely to slow down Stolsworth, Houston, Perry and the Falcons. Linemen Dawson Sheesley, Levi Jenkins, Edwin Barrios, Logan Younce and Colton Evans and tight end Ben Bonds have been opening the holes for Perry. Linebacker Baiden Suddarth led West’s defense again last week.
Hunter Courtney had 142 rushing yards for Carson last week, with many big gains triggered by blocks by back Michael Gonsalves.
Teolyn Woodruff (12 tackles, 2 sacks) and Jacob Taylor (9 tackles) were standouts for Carson’s defense last week. Andrew Bradshaw led the special teams effort at Statesville with his long snaps and kick coverage.
With wins over North Rowan and East Rowan this season, West (5-4, 2-1) is now 71-5 in its last 76 county games.
For Carson, an important game to try to get into the playoffs. For West, a victory would mean another undefeated season in the county and it would mean staying in the hunt for a title in the NPC. West, East, Statesville and South Iredell enter tonight in a four-way tie at 2-1.
West is 12-1 against Carson. The lone Carson win was in 2013.
West won the 2017 contest, 45-13.
North Davidson 27, Salisbury 7
The Black Knights’ numbers are scary. They’ve scored 352 points, while allowing 27. They’ve won seven straight. They own seven shutouts.
Salisbury (5-3, 5-1) probably is the third-best team in the 10-team Central Carolina Conference, but this is going to be a big challenge for the Hornets. The Hornets hung with Ledford recently, so maybe they can do it again.
Salisbury sophomore nose guard Zae Clay (12 tackles last week, 4 for loss) will be the first line of defense against the Black Knights (8-1, 7-0) and is playing at a high level.
Salisbury has really good defensive numbers and leads the county in pass defense and total defense (yards allowed).
Salisbury sophomore QB/RB Mike McLean accounted for four TDs last week and will lead the offense.
Both teams are coached by former Catawba players (Brian Hinson and North Davidson’s Brian Flynn).
North Davidson’s offense, triggered by junior QB Landon Moore, is balanced, while the Black Knights’ defense has 42 sacks.
North Davidson leads the series, 5-4.
The Black Knights demolished the Hornets a year ago, 45-0, but Salisbury should do better this time.
South Rowan 35, Central Davidson 20
The Raiders aren’t favorites on the road often, but they’ll be expected to return from Central Davidson with a CCC victory.
Central (1-8, 0-7) hasn’t won since beating Atkins on opening night. South (2-7, 2-5) has beaten East Davidson and West Davidson at home, but hasn’t won on the road yet.
Central Davidson has been outscored 321-79. South has allowed 315 points, while scoring 141.
South QB Drew Huffman could put up some career numbers.
Central leads the series, 2-1. South won last year, 28-17.
North Rowan 42, West Montgomery 7
North Rowan (6-2, 3-1) can’t wait to get back on the field after Friday’s turnover-plagued, 43-8, disaster against North Stanly.
Things should go a lot more smoothly for North Rowan in this Yadkin Valley Conference contest, as West Montgomery (4-5, 3-2) isn’t nearly as strong as it’s been in recent years.
West Montgomery lost to South Stanly, 42-0, while North Rowan beat South Stanly, 42-0, so it’s not hard to figure out who’s supposed to win.
North is 6-6 against West Montgomery all-time and lost to the Warriors, 20-13 last season.
North’s most recent victory against West Montgomery came in overtime in 2012.
West Forsyth 35, Davie County 27
Davie (3-5, 0-2) is allowing 35 points per game, which makes it tough to win. West Forsyth (5-3, 1-1) averages 28 points per contest.
West Forsyth is 4-1 at home but 1-2 on the road, and this one is in Mocksville, so Davie has a shot.
West Forsyth won, 20-17, last season. Davie’s last win against one of its bigger rivals came in a defensive-minded affair in 2016, but the Titans have won five of the last six meetings and lead the all-time series, 22-14.
A.L. 31, Robinson 21
Robinson outscored A.L. Brown, 49-42, last season in a game that decided the SPC.
A.L. Brown (4-5, 0-3) has lost three straight weeks for the first time in this century, but is still ranked 68th in the state for all classifications. That gives you an idea how tough the South Piedmont Conference is.
On the line against Robinson is that amazing run of no losing seasons for the Wonders since 1977. If they fall to the Bulldogs (4-4, 1-2), the drop to 4-6, and it’s going to be very hard to keep the streak alive. The Wonders also were 4-5 after nine games in 2014, but managed to finish 6-6.
Will the Wonders and Concord Spiders really go into the Bell Game with 0-4 SPC records?
It’s possible, but the Wonders have a good chance tonight. Concord doesn’t. The Spiders play Northwest Cabarrus.
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