Monday, August 29, 2011

Mallard Creek, Butler still atop Sweet 16 Football Poll: 8/29/2011

Compared to last week’s Sweet 16 poll, which saw large amounts of movement and tons of new teams join, the second regular-season poll is rather boring.

No no teams joining and only a couple small ripples:

--Rock Hill Northwestern lost 16-10 to Rock Hill South Pointe in both team’s season opening games. Northwestern had a pass in the air to win or tie the game, but it was intercepted. Northwestern dropped from No. 4 to No. 7. South Pointe rose a spot to No. 6.

-- With Northwestern falling, No. 4 A.L. Brown and No. 5 South Point each moved up one spot.

-- South Point beat Lincolnton 35-21 in a matchup of top teams, and Lincolnton fell from No. 12 to 15. That allowed No. 12 Mooresville, No. 13 Berry and No. 14 Porter Ridge to each move up one spot.

Note:
To be ranked in the Observer’s Sweet 16, a team must be in the Observer’s coverage area, field football and basketball teams and not allow a student-athlete to reclass after ninth grade. For a detailed look inside the poll, including the criteria used to compile it, visit this link: http://tinyurl.com/3wmd3yp


Rk.     Team (Class)     Rec.    Prev.
1     Mallard Creek (4A)     2-0    1
2     Butler (4A)     1-1    2
3     Charlotte Catholic (3A)    2-0    3
4     A.L. Brown (3A)    2-0    5
5    South Point (3A)    2-0    6
6     Rock Hill South Pointe (3A)     1-0    7
7     Rock Hill Northwestern (4A)     0-1    4
8     Burns (3A)     2-0    8
9     West Rowan (3A)    1-1    9
10    Crest (3A)    1-1    10
11     Independence (4A)    2-0    11
12    Mooresville (4A)    2-0    13
13    Berry (3A)    2-0    14
14    Porter Ridge (4A)    2-0    15
15    Lincolnton (2A)    1-1    12
16    Vance (4A)    1-1    16
Dropped out: None
    On The Bubble: Albemarle (1A, 1-1); Charlotte Country Day (IND, 1-0); Myers Park (4A, 2-0); Salisbury (2A, 2-0); South Iredell (2A, 2-0);

Soccer For A Cure Tournament results

Here are results from last week's soccer for a cure tournament held in Charlotte.

Saturday
@ Charlotte Catholic High SchoolNorth Lincoln 3, Central Academy of Arts & Technology 7
Porter Ridge 0, Providence Day 2
East Lincoln 0, Charlotte Catholic 6 

@ Marvin Ridge High SchoolWeddington 1, Ardrey Kell 5
Hickory Ridge 0, Olympic 1
Butler 0, Marvin Ridge 3

@ Charlotte Latin High SchoolIndependence 3, South Point 0
Sun Valley 2, Cox Mill 7
Myers Park 5, Charlotte Latin 1

@ South Meck High SchoolLake Norman 0, Providence 0
Ashbrook 0, South Meck 3

Thursday @ Ramblewood

Weddington 1, Myers Park 3
Charlotte Latin 1, Ashbrook 1
Ardrey Kell 6, Hickory Ridge 0
East Lincoln 1, Marvin Ridge 3
Olympic 0, North Lincoln 3
Charlotte Catholic 5, Cuthbertson 1
Providence Day 1, Butler 2
South Point 2, Sun Valley 3
Providence 3, Porter Ridge 0
CATA 0, Independence 6
South Meck 1, Lake Norman 1 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Garinger football coach suspended indefinitely

Garinger football coach Lin Fisher, who led the Wildcats to a 7-5 record last season, has been suspended.

Mecklenburg County director of athletics Sue Doran confirmed the suspension, which began Friday, but couldn't talk about why, saying it was a personnel matter "that's being looked into."

Garinger offensive line coach Brian Berlin has been named interim coach. Berlin coached Garinger in Friday's 32-12 loss to Vance.

A source close to Garinger told the Observer Fisher was suspended due to an eligibility issue with three players who played in the Wildcats' first game, Aug. 19, against Myers Park. Garinger athletics director Claire Gardin did not return calls from the Observer.

Fisher was named Garinger's interim coach a few days before the 2010 season began when coach Terry Liggin was suspended. Liggin later told the Observer he was suspended for a year because he allowed a player to participate in a scrimmage before the player completed nine days per practice. Liggin said the player had an issue with medical records and was pulled from practice.

Liggin said the player was cleared a few days before the planned scrimmage.

"The player participated in that," Liggin said last September, "and I was notified by the trainer that he didn't have enough days and we pulled him. After the scrimmage, (Garinger athletics director Claire Gardin) informed me that it was a violation. From that, I received a suspension letter from school and they suspended me for 365 days from coaching football."

Liggin was Garinger's 15th coach since 1975. He led Garinger to a 2-9 record in 2009, when the Wildcats lost two games by a total of nine points and were close in two more. Those were significant upgrades for a team that has had four losing streaks of at least 18 games since 1989, including a 61-game on-field losing streak that ended in 2008.

Fisher built upon that success last season. Fisher led Garinger to a 7-5 record and was named All-Observer coach of the year, among all 127 coaches in the newspaper's Carolinas coverage area. The seven wins were the most by a Garinger team in 20 years. Garinger, which hosted a playoff game, also had a five-game win streak in 2010, its best in 16 years.

Fisher was later named full-time coach and now teaches geometry and technical math to 10th, 11th and 12th graders at Garinger.

Garinger (0-2) plays Hunter Huss High from Gastonia Friday night at home.







Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Inside Look at the Sweet 16 poll

Yesterday's Sweet 16 regular-season post started a bit of a maelstrom it seems.

Some folks wanted to talk about how they felt one play decided the Butler-Mallard Creek game (don't think so) and why so-and-so team was still ranked and why such-and-such team, which beat a higher ranked team, didn't move past them.

That led me to try to answer a few questions that often come up.

1. WHO CAN BE IN THE SWEET 16: I think I need to update this list, but you have to be in the Observer's coverage area to be included. Here is the list of teams (again, I may be missing a few, but if you're an NCHSAA school playing in a league of majority area teams, you're good; I'll update).

Now, if you're in our coverage area, you must field a football team and you must play for a recognized state association (the NCISAA or NCHSAA) and you must play by the eight semester rule. Your school cannot allow a student-athlete to reclass after 9th grade. A lot of coaches in the past have said "Well we don't have any reclass kids so we are eligible."

No, as a policy, your school cannot allow it. You must play by the eight semester rule. It's not fair to compare a team that has a kid (kids) who could be a college freshman (freshmen) against a team that doesn't have any, especially in basketball.

2. HOW IS THE POLL PUT TOGETHER: Each week, we look at how a team has done or is doing and from there it's subjective. Two years ago, I asked five people from a message board to vote for an online readers' Sweet 16. Their poll was virtually identical to the one we do, despite them saying at the beginning we had no clue.

3. WHAT ARE THE RULES: In the old days, the poll was essentially about who is the strongest team in their class and who had the best chance to win a state title. We always wanted to be inclusive of private and small class teams, but two years ago, we made a shift to incorporate more of a "power poll" bent. The Sweet 16 isn't a power poll, but we understand people think that the No. 8 team should be able to beat the No. 11 team. So you take that into consideration.

Ultimately, the poll is a ranking of the top teams in the Observer's coverage area, using these criteria: team talent, team schedule, strength of class and performance.


4. WHY IS MY TEAM RANKED BELOW A TEAM WE JUST BEAT?: Great example here. West Rowan, a top 5 preseason team, lost to unranked Mooresville Friday. Mooresville jumped into the poll this week, below West. West was a high ranked team that lost a close game. People are not going to push West down towards the bottom of the poll, and it's hard for an unranked team, like Mooresville, to hop over 8-9 teams in its first appearance. Maybe you can argue the Blue Devils should've been ranked in preseason, but preseason is just a guess. We cover 127 schools and rank 16. Bottom line? Well, two of them:

1. Everybody can't get ranked.
2. The true Sweet 16 probably emerges in the fourth week or so anyway, if you ask me.

Questions? Leave them below. I'll answer.



Monday, August 22, 2011

Mallard Creek-Butler football game TV replay is on

Time Warner's Carolina on Demand service is now carrying last week's Butler-Mallard Creek game. Mallard Creek took a 14-0 lead before Butler rallied to tie. Mallard Creek won 28-20 on a wide receiver pass in front an overflow crowd of more than 5,000.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Live high school football updates

THE SWEET 16 FARED

No. 2 Mallard Creek 21, No. 1 Butler 20
No. 5 Charlotte Catholic 46, South Meck 28
Berry 44, No. 6 Vance 6
AL Brown 43, No. 8 Shelby 24
No. 14 Independence 38, Hough 32
Concord 27, West Charlotte 26
Marvin Ridge 17, East Mecklenburg 13
Hopewell 41, Providence 13
Myers Park 29, Garinger 16
Olympic 44, North Mecklenburg 42
Rocky River 15, West Mecklenburg 3


NORTH CAROLINA FINAL SCORES
Alexander Central 54, North Iredell 14


Andrews 22, Cloudland, Tenn. 8

Anson County 48, Marshville Forest Hills 38

Apex Middle Creek 32, Northern Durham 0

Asheboro 21, Providence Grove 6

Asheville 63, North Gaston 14

Asheville Erwin 17, Burnsville Mountain Heritage 7

Bertie County 26, Gates County 24

Boonville Starmount 20, Mt. Airy 19

Burlington Williams 26, Oxford Webb 7

Carrboro 47, Central Davidson 36

Cary 14, Raleigh Broughton 7

Central Cabarrus 31, South Rowan 23

Chapel Hill 19, South Granville 13

Charlotte Berry Tech 44, Charlotte Vance 6

Charlotte Catholic 46, South Mecklenburg 28

Charlotte Independence 38, Hough High School 32

Charlotte Myers Park 29, Charlotte Garinger 16

Charlotte Olympic 44, North Mecklenburg 42

China Grove Carson 16, North Rowan 6

Claremont Bunker Hill 28, Cherryville 20

Clayton Cleveland 21, North Johnston 20

Columbia 6, KIPP Pride 0

Concord 27, West Charlotte 26

Davidson Day 61, Harrells Christian Academy 29

East Duplin 56, Pittsboro Northwood 6

East Forsyth 24, West Forsyth 7

East Montgomery 25, Elkin 13

East Wake 28, East Chapel Hill 21

Eastern Alamance 36, Hillsborough Cedar Ridge 22

Edenton Holmes 53, Wendell Corinth-Holders 8

Enka 47, Sullivan South, Tenn. 44

Erwin Triton 48, Clinton 13

Fannin County, Ga. 34, Murphy 28

Fayetteville Britt 28, Southern Pines Pinecrest 14

Fayetteville Byrd 43, Hope Mills South View 13

Fayetteville Sanford 14, Fayetteville Westover 0

Fayetteville Smith 41, Spring Lake Overhills 6

Forest City Chase 35, West Lincoln 20

Franklin 29, Charlotte Christian 7

Franklinton 29, Lakewood (Salemburg) 20

Fuquay-Varina 42, West Johnston 19

Garner 62, Raleigh Enloe 42

Granville Central 30, Northampton-East 14

Green Sea Floyds, S.C. 12, West Columbus 6

Greenville Conley 48, Wilson Fike 14

Havelock 24, Greenville Rose 14

Hayesville 21, Towns County, Ga. 6

Hendersonville 48, West Henderson 7

High Point Andrews 27, High Point Central 20

Hobbton 39, Princeton 38

Hoke County 21, Wilmington Ashley 16

Holly Springs 27, Wake Forest Heritage 0

Hope Mills Gray’s Creek 35, St. Pauls 0

Huntersville Hopewell 41, Charlotte Providence 13

Jacksonville Northside 27, Jacksonville White Oak 6

Jamestown Ragsdale 37, Greensboro Grimsley 7

Kannapolis Brown 43, Shelby 24

Kernersville Glenn 27, Pfafftown Reagan 10

Kings Mountain 17, East Rutherford 14

Lee County 51, Southern Lee 13

Lumberton 31, Cape Fear 7

Mallard Creek 28, Matthews Butler 20

Manteo 48, Currituck County 24

Mitchell County 48, Avery County 6

Monroe Piedmont 21, Hickory Ridge 20

Mooresville 21, West Rowan 14

Morrisville Green Hope 38, Smithfield-Selma 0

Mt. Pleasant 57, North Stanly 7

New Bern 27, Durham Hillside 19

New Hanover County 61, Goldsboro 12

Newton Foard 25, North Lincoln 6

North Brunswick 14, Pender County 6

North Duplin 27, Chocowinity Southside 6

Northwest Guilford 49, Greensboro Smith 14

Orange County 42, Person County 14

Panther Creek 49, Raleigh Leesville Road 0

Pembroke Swett 56, Fayetteville Pine Forest 0

Polk County 38, Waynesville Tuscola 22

R-S Central 21, McDowell County 20

Raleigh Athens Drive 40, Raleigh Sanderson 20

Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons 40, Clayton 26

Raleigh Ravenscroft 43, Northern Vance 28

Raleigh Wake Christian 44, Chatham Central 21

Raleigh Wakefield 48, Durham Riverside 28

Richmond County 70, Monroe Sun Valley 28

Roanoke Rapids 42, Northampton-West 6

Rockingham County 48, East Davidson 0

Rocky Mount 30, Bunn 0

Rocky River 15, West Mecklenburg 3

Scotland County 25, Fayetteville Seventy-First 8

Siler City Jordan-Matthews 27, Eden Morehead 0

South Brunswick 34, West Craven 7

South Central Pitt 27, Hertford County 14

South Columbus 20, East Columbus 6

South Johnston 47, Dunn Midway 6

South Stanly 34, West Stanly 12

Southeast Guilford 32, Southwest Guilford 13

Southeast Raleigh 36, Raleigh Millbrook 6

Southern Durham 35, Greensboro Dudley 28

Southern Guilford 27, Eastern Guilford 0

Southern Nash 43, SouthWest Edgecombe 0

Southern Vance 26, Louisburg 10

Southern Wayne 27, Warsaw Kenan 19

Southwest Onslow 20, East Bladen 0

Southwestern Randolph 34, Cameron Union Pines 14

Swain County 21, East Henderson 14

Thomasville 21, North Davidson 14

Thomasville Ledford 50, Trinity 7

Topsail 9, Rocky Point Trask 7

Wake Forest-Rolesville 38, Durham Jordan 6

Wallace-Rose Hill 46, Whiteville 3

West Davidson 26, East Wilkes 14

West Iredell 33, East Surry 0

West Stokes 9, Albemarle 7

Western Alamance 28, Reidsville 21

Western Harnett 37, South Robeson 6

Wilkes Central 48, Surry Central 7

Wilmington Hoggard 32, West Brunswick 21

Wilmington Laney 54, Jacksonville 14

Wilson Hunt 48, Eastern Wayne 6

Winston-Salem Carver 35, North Forsyth 14


 Thanks for joining us tonight for live updates from area high school football games. Check back for periodic updates, and hit refresh for the latest information. Mecklenburg County games start at 7 p.m., and all games will be under way by 7:30 p.m.

10:32 p.m.: Independence beats Hough 38-32

10:29 p.m.: Final Score: Berry 44, Vance 6.

10:27 p.m.: Final Score: Myers Park 29, Garinger 16.

10:17 p.m.: AL Brown beats Shelby 43-24.

10:10 p.m.: Concord wins aganst West Charlotte 27-26.

10:09 p.m.: Mallard Creek beats Butler 28-20.

10:07 p.m.: AL Brown leads Shelby 43-24 with 3:00 left in the fourth quarter.

10:06 p.m.: Hopewell beats Providence 41-13.

10:05 p.m.: Charlotte Catholic wins against South Meck 46-28.

10:05 p.m.: Olympic wins against North Meck 44-42.

9:50 p.m.: Rocky River wins against West Meck 15-3.

9:37 p.m.: Berry 37, Vance 0 at the end of the third quarter.

9:36 p.m.: Charlotte Catholic 46, South Meck 13 after the third quarter.

9:34 p.m.: Mallard Creek 28, Butler 20 with 7:00 left in fourth quarter.

9:28 p.m.: West Charlotte 20, Concord 20 at the end of the third quarter.

9:22 p.m.: Mallard Creek 21, Butler 20 with 10:00 to go in fourth quarter.

9:21 p.m.: Olympic 44, North Meck 28 at the end of the third quarter; O: Issac Garcia 88 yards rushing with a TD, Jarret Harris 86 yards rushing with a TD.

9:18 p.m.: Hopewell 27, Providence 13 with 11:41 left in the fourth quarter; H: Denzel Heath 5 yard run for TD.

9:14 p.m.: Rocky River 15, West Meck 3 at the end of the third quarter.

9:06 p.m.: Mallard Creek 21, Butler 14 with 4:00 left in the third quarter.
 
9:01 p.m.: Mallard Creek 14, Butler 14 with 6:00 to go in third quarter.

8:55 p.m.: Rocky River 15, West Meck 3 with 7:03 left in the third quarter; RR: Sidney Lawson 95 yard interception return for a TD.

8:44 p.m.: Charlotte Catholic 39, South Meck 13 at halftime.

8:41 p.m.: West Meck at Rocky River third quarter has started.

8:39 p.m.: Concord 20, West Charlotte 13 at halftime.

8:30 p.m.: East Meck 13, Marvin Ridge 10 at halftime.

8:29 p.m.: Olympic 44, North Meck 21 at halftime.

8:27 p.m.: Hopewell 14, Providence 13 at halftime; P: Matt Yates 34 yard pass from James Haigh (Kyle Hinton kick), Yates 65 yard pass from Haigh (kick failed); H: Cameron Underwood 56 interception return for TD (kick failed), Denxel Heath 3 yard run (Jermaine Sanders pass from Chandler Chase).

8:25 p.m.: Mallard Creek 14, Butler 7

8:22 p.m.: Charlotte Catholic 29, South Meck 7 at the end of the first quarter.

8:19 p.m.: Berry 15, Vance 0 at halftime.

8:14 p.m.: Rocky River 8, West Charlotte 3 at halftime.

8:12 p.m.: Independence 17, Hough 2 at halftime.

8:10 p.m.: Rocky River 8, West Meck 3 with 1:06 left in second quarter; Elijah Roberson 40 yard pass from Andre Rice for TD, 2 point conversion failed.

8:02 p.m.: Concord 14, West Charlotte 7 at the end of the first quarter.

7:54 p.m.: West Meck 3, Rocky River 2 after a safety for the Ravens with 5:32 left in second quarter.

7:48 p.m.: Berry 15, Vance 0 at the end of the first quarter.

7:42 p.m.: Mallard Creek 14, Butler 0 with 9:00 to go in first half.

7:42 p.m.: West Meck 3, Rocky River 0 with 8:57 left in the second quarter; WM: Dillion Griffith 32 yard FG.

7:40 p.m.: Olympic 20, North Meck 7 at end of first quarter; O: Andrew Ray run for 2 TDs, Issac Garcia run for a TD; NM: Terrence Cluburn 72 yard rush for TD.

7:36 p.m.: West Meck at Rocky River, No score after first quarter.

7:30 p.m.: No. 1 Butler at No. 2 Mallard Creek, No score after first quarter.

7:26 p.m.: South Meck at Charlotte Catholic has started.

7:21 p.m.: Independence 14, Hough 0 after a 4-yard QB keeper by Evan Guest.

7:13 p.m.: Independence 7, Hough 0 on a RJ Baker 23-yard touchdown run.

7:06 p.m.: West Meck at Rocky River has begun

5:45 p.m.: We'll have a representative at the following games tonight:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

2 Charlotteans in Scout.com's 2013 Top 20

West Charlotte power forward Kennedy Meeks (No. 15) and Olympic point guard Allerik Freeman (No. 19) are among the top 100 basketball players in the class of 2013, according to a Scout.com list released Thursday.

Raleigh's Isaiah Hicks (power forward, Body of Christ Academy, No. 9), Anton Gill (shooting guard, Ravenscroft, No. 54), and Josh Newkirk (point guard, Word of God, No. 70)

Also on the list from the Carolinas: Shooting guard Sindarius Thornwell (Lancaster, S.C., High, No. 36); shooting guard Greg McClinton (Winston Salem Prep, No. 39). That gives the Carolinas seven of the top 100 juniors in the country, according to Scout, which updated its rankings after the summer evaluation period.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Three keys to No. 1 Butler at No. 2 Mallard Creek

Three factors that will determine the winner of Friday's blockbuster Sweet 16 high school football matchup, No. 1 Butler at No. 2 Mallard Creek (7 p.m.):

1. Mallard Creek's defense. Butler returns nine offensive starters from a team that averaged 45 points per game. Chances are the Bulldogs will be better on offense than a year ago, and last year, Butler made a habit of time-consuming drives that ended in scores. Mallard Creek’s defensive line, averages about 275 pounds, and must be able to stop the Bulldogs’ run game and pressure QB Riley Ferguson.

2. Butler's defense. Only two starters are back for Bulldogs defensive coordinator Steve Shaughnessy, but one of them may be the best college prospect among juniors in the Carolinas, 6-3, 240-pound Peter Kalambayi. Mallard Creek could counter with a heavy does of 6-foot, 205-pound running back Jela Duncan running behind a huge offensive line that includes 6-6, 280-pound All-American D.J. Humphries, among the top seniors in the Carolinas.

3. Turnovers. Games between high profile teams often come down to the little things. Butler has an advantage in big-game experience, but the game is at Mallard Creek, where the artificial turf that will create a fast track, and the Mavericks are faster. Ultimately, creating turnovers and not turning it over yourself could decide this showdown.

Langston Wertz Jr.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Basketball commits: Olympic's Smith (Clemson); A Kell's Shembo (Wake)

Christelle Shembo, Ardrey Kell girls basketball: All-Observer star committed to Wake Forest. Shembo’s brother, Prince, is a sophomore linebacker at Notre Dame. Christelle averaged 13.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and two steals last season for the Knights.

Josh Smith, Olympic basketball: 6-7 senior forward committed to Clemson Saturday, coach Ty Baumgardner said. Smith helped Olympic reach the No. 1 ranking in the Sweet 16 for the first time last season and helped the Trojans reach the N.C. 4A Western regionals last March. Smith played for the Charlotte Nets AAU team this summer.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Vance football coach on why he stepped down: "I don't have my teaching certificate"

Vance High football coach Phil Culicerto told the Observer in an emotional, exclusive interview Thursday night that he resigned because he has not fulfilled requirements to keep his N.C. teaching certificate.

Every five years, a teacher’s license comes up for renewal. To keep it, the teacher must earn continuing education units (CEUs). Teachers can earn CEUs during that five-year window, through college courses, on the job training and professional development.

Culicerto, who will also surrender his teaching position, said CMS officials informed him this week that his certification was no longer valid.

"I know the teaching requirements that are there," he said, "and I had gotten to a situation where I probably spent the majority of my time with my people instead of taking care of myself and my credits. Sometimes, you think, ‘I can get it, I can get it, I can get it.’ I ran out of time."

Culicerto, a former quarterback at Virginia Tech, said he met with assistant coach and former college teammate Billy Leeson for two hours Thursday and hoped Leeson would assume the head coaching position, with defensive coordinator Sam Griner continuing to handle the defense.

Culicerto said it’s a "crushing blow" to step down just eight days before the start of the season. Vance plays at Berry Aug. 19. Vance, which reached the state 4AA semifinals last season, is ranked No. 6 in the Observer’s preseason Sweet 16 poll.

"It hurts a lot," he said, "especially when you think we’re not just putting a team on the field, but one that can compete with anybody in this state; to know you gotta let that all go now, it’s a big hurt. I’m heartbroken, no doubt, and I hope the kids don’t feel I let them down. I love these boys and will do anything for them. I’m not running away. I just didn’t get my requirements done."

Culicerto -- a former head football and baseball coach at Division III Hampden-Sydney -- said he would immediately begin taking his required courses and would investigate ways he might still help Vance’s football team on a volunteer basis. Vance athletics director Glenn Blafield said the school hoped to name a new coach before Friday’s season-opener.

"I respect CMS and everything they’ve done for me," Culicerto said. "I’m a CMS guy. I’m a Vance guy. I can’t apply back for another six months, but when those months are over, I told (Vance principal) Dr. (Valarie) Williams that ‘you’d better be expecting my application.’"

Culicerto said he hoped his players could learn a lesson from this.

“I told our guys, that ‘I expect you to have a 2.0 (grade-point average). Without a 2.0, you can’t play. CMS expects me to have my certification, but since I didn’t have it, I can’t coach. That’s fair and square.’ So I’m gonna go do my homework and I told them, ‘I hope you will have me back.’"

Vance football coach resigns just before start of the season

Vance football coach Phil Culicerto resigned as the Cougars football coach today, telling his players after a morning practice at school.

Culicerto did not return calls from the Observer. He was entering his third season. Culicerto's 2010 team posted a school-best 11-4 record and made an appearance in the N.C. 4AA Western Regional championship game last December. That was a school first.

The Cougars, who begin the 2011 season next Friday (Aug. 19) at Berry, are No. 6 in the Observer's preseason Sweet 16.


Vance athletics director Glenn Blafield wouldn't elaborate on why Culicerto resigned, deferring those questions to the coach. Blafield said the school would move quickly to find a coach in time for the Berry game. He said Vance does not have an interim coach named.

"Everybody has to pull together," he said. "Everybody has to step up and do the right thing. The kids are great. It's not about the talent on the sidelines, but the talent on the field. That's what matters. We've got a good game plan for what practices will look like. Nothing has changed."

In an interview earlier this month, Culicerto said he was excited to work with this team, which features several players being recruited by major Division I colleges. He expected to challenge nationally ranked Mallard Creek for a conference championship. Vance upset Mallard Creek in the state quarterfinals last season.

Blafield, the athletics director, said Vance's goals are the same.

"It was one of those things," he said. "We'll move on. We'll recover. We'll survive. We always have. The coaching staff has pulled together well. They know each other and trust each other and the kids know what's going on. It's a matter of saying, 'OK, this was a bump in the road, but it's not going to take away how good those players are and what's going to happen this year.'"

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Area high school football scrimmage dates

Here are reported area high school scrimmages.

WEDNESDAY
AL Brown at Mooresville, 8 a.m.
Myers Park at West Meck, 6:30 p.m.
Salisbury, W. Stanly at NW Cabarrus, 6:30
Starmount at South Iredell, 7
Weddington at Monroe, 7 p.m.


THURSDAY
Ashbrook, Crest, Davie County, Greensboro Page, Independence, Sun Valley at South Meck, 6
Bandys at Lincolnton, 7 p.m.
Butler, Berry at North Meck, 8 a.m.
Charlotte Latin at Albemarle, 5 p.m.
Football Jamboree at Bessemer City, 6 p.m. (Highland Tech, NE Prep, Burns, West Meck, N. Gaston, W. Lincoln, Bessemer City, E. Lincoln)
Forestview at Mallard Creek, 9 a.m.
Davidson Day at Forsyth Country Day, 6 p.m.
Forest Hills at Mt Pleasant, 6
Maiden at Cherryville, 6 p.m.
Porter Ridge at Ardrey Kell, 9 a.m.
South Meck Jamboree, 6 p.m.

FRIDAY
Ardrey Kell, South Point at Alexander Central, 6 p.m.
Cherryville at Blacksburg, S.C., 7 p.m.
Cleveland County Jamboree at Burns, 6 p.m. (Burns, Shelby, Hickory, Kings Mountain, Mooresville, A.L. Brown, Crest, East Lincoln) at Burns, 6 p.m.
Clover, S. Point at York, SC, 6 p.m.
Hunter Huss at Rutherford County Jamboree (Vs RS Central
Lincolnton, Surry Central at E. Surry, 6 p.m.
N. Iredell, Freedom,  Patton, McDowell, Draughn, Fred T Foard at East Burke, 6 p.m.
Parkwood, St. Jude at Cuthbertson, 6 p.m.
South Iredell at Wilkes Central, 6:30 pm
Weddington at Providence, 9 a.m.
Winston-Salem Reynolds at W. Iredell, 7 p.m.

SATURDAY
Ashbrook, Kings Mountain, Rocky River, Mallard Creek, Hunter Huss, Berry, Forestview, West Charlotte at Foresview, 6 p.m.
Bessemer City at N. Gaston, 6 p.m.
Border Bash at Anson Senior, 6 p.m. (West Stanly, McBee, S. Stanly, Central, Albemarle, Chesterfield, Anson, Cheraw)
Independence Green/Gold team scrimmage, 6 p.m.
Mt Pleasant, N. Rowan at Concord, 6 p.m.
South Meck at North Meck, 8 a.m.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Mallard Creek OL DJ Humphries commits to Florida

Mallard Creek offensive lineman D.J. Humphries, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound rising senior, committed to Florida Friday.

Humphries announced his commitment during a 7 p.m. ceremony at school. Humphries is the top recruit in North Carolina, ranked No. 3 overall nationally by rivals.com and No. 7 by ESPN.

Humphries finalists were: Clemson, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Humphries, a B student, will graduate from Mallard Creek in December and enroll in Gainesville in January.


Read the full story.

Kennedy Charter Schools adds basketball transfers

New Kennedy Charter boys basketball coach Ed Addie said several players will transfer to his school this fall: Donte Clark (Queens Grant), Julius Hamilton (West Meck) and J.J. Douglas (West Meck).

Clark and Hamilton were all-conference players last year. Douglas is being recruited by Mercer, Presbyterian and Gardner-Webb.

South Meck to host multi-team football scrimmage Thursday (8/11)

 South Mecklenburg will host a multi-team scrimmage Thursday (8/11).

Teams in attendance:
Ashbrook
Crest
Davie Co.
Independence
Northwestern, SC
Greensboro Page
South Meck
Sun Valley


Preliminary pairings
Round 1
Independence vs. Ashbrook - outside the stadium
South Meck vs. Page - Inside the stadium
Crest vs. N’western, SC - outside the stadium
Davie County vs Sun Valley - inside the stadium


Round 2
N’western, SC vs. Davie County - inside the stadium
Independence vs. Sun Valley - outside the stadium
South Meck vs. - Ashbrook - inside the stadium
Page vs Crest - outside the stadium


Round 3
N’western, SC vs. South Meck - inside the stadium
Crest vs. Sun Valley - inside the stadium
Independence vs. Page - outside the stadium
Davie County vs. Ashbrook- outside the stadium

The NC Baseball Coaches All State Team

DURHAM - These are the 2011 North Carolina Baseball Coaches Association All-State Baseball Teams which were released earlier this week.



1A All-State Baseball Team


David Cook, Plymouth
Dustin Spruill, Perquimans
Conner Cope, Hendersonville
Eric Kalbfleisdh, North Stokes
Thomas Bess, Cherryville
Rookie Davis, Dixon
Justin Coker, Murphy
Zack Wall, Hayesville
Houston Barnes, East Columbus
Derrick Bracey, East Columbus
Timothy Carter, South Robeson
Tyler Stotler, West Wilkes
John Roper, Cherokee
Dylan Hastings, Cherryville
Russ Weiker, South Stanly
Steven Wallace, South Stanly
Landon Fraley, South Stanly
Corey Dick, Albemarle
Jordan Farthing, Midway
Ethan Creed, Elkin
Matt Mauldin, North Rowan
Lee Patillo, Swain County
Caleb Whitley, Williamston


Russ Weiker, South Stanly - Player of the Year




2A All-State Baseball Team


J.D. Chaplain, Owen
Derek Deaton, East Rutherford
Eddie Hawkins, South Lenoir
Gary Ferguson, West Davidson
Dylan Richardson, Randleman
Jeremy Null, Bunker Hill
Clay Lockaman, Roanoke Rapids
Wes Sowers, Greene Central
Peter Hendel, Cuthbertson
Zach Cooper, South Granville
Tucker Coward, Eastern Randolph
Caleb Brawley, Forbush
Justin Leatherwood, Pisgah
Kevin Van Asch, West Stanly                      
Josh Cochran, West Stanly
Matt Ashorn, Farmville Central
Steven Linkous, North Brunswick
Gus Fesperman, North Stanly
Chip Helton, East Rutherford
Lucas Owens, East Rutherford
Brad Elwood, Piedmont
Joel Booker, Polk County
Roberto Taft, Polk County
Evan Dixon, Northwood
Jacob Shepherd, Bunker Hill
Saquan Johnson, East Bladen
Parker Hills, East Lincoln
Wiley Jackson, East Duplin
Curtis Linthicum, Randleman

(No Player of the Year announced)




3A All-State Baseball Team

Parker Lamm, Wilson Hunt
Benton Moss, Rocky Mount
Seth Bresseale, Union Pines
Peter Owens, Chapel Hill
Jordan Deloatch, DH Conley
Zach Mozingo, Eastern Wayne
Ryne Rush, Asheboro
Brody Koerner, JM Robinson
Nick Monroe, Eastern Alamance
Sean Grant, West Iredell
Alex Jensen, Charlotte Catholic
Jordan Newsome, Weddington
Josh Vales, Currituck
Brian Hardy, North Lenoir
Cory Seager, Northwest Cabarrus
Colby Fox, North Buncombe
Kevin Wise, Southern Wayne
Jon Taylor, CB Aycock
Garrett Brown, Erwin
Spencer Wiles, South Point
Dylan Baker, West Henderson
Chastin Radford, North Lenoir
John Edwards, Jacksonville
Luis Paula, Northeast Guilford
Damon Hoggard, West Carteret
Pete Guy, Ledford
Brandon Warren, Hertford County


Jeffrey Springs, South Point - Player of the Year


4A All-State Baseball Team


Dylan Maples, Pinecrest
Alex Raburn, Durham Jordan
Matt Orth, SW Guilford
Michael Russell, Hopewell

Jordan Ramsey, North Davidson
Travis Cook, South Caldwell

Lou Adams, South View

Jonathon Kelly, Ashley
Josh Tobias, Southeast Guilford
Will Butler, Wakefield
Brien Taylor, Harnett Central
Logan Ratledge, Ardrey Kell
A J. Larson, Butler
Alex Ledford, T.C. Roberson
Carson Bryant, T.C. Robeson
Brett Austin, Providence
Curt Britt, Scotland County
Chris McCue, Ardrey Kell
Coley Thompkins, Hoggard
Jake Fincher, Providence
Jason Creasey, Clayton
Justin Manning, Holly Springs
Matt Soiter, New Bern
Charlie Herring, J.H. Rose
Luke Dunlap, East Forsyth
Dillon Frye, Lee County


Carlos Rodon, Holly Springs - Player of the Year

Holly Springs pitcher & NC State recruit is NC Baseball player of the year

DURHAM - Holly Springs pitcher Carlos Rodon has been selected as the 2011 N.C. Baseball Coaches Association Player of the Year.

The left-hander, who throws consistently in the 90s, helped lead Holly Springs to its first-ever NCHSAA 4-A state baseball title with a sweep of Asheville Roberson in the championship series. He was voted the series' MVP. The Golden Hawks closed out the season at 27-2 and won their last 21 contests.

Rodon was 11-0 on the season with 135 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.40. He finished his career with a 23-2 mark. At the plate last season, he batted .375 with one home run and 22 RBI.


Rodon, who has verbally committed to N.C. State, was taken in the 16th round of June's Major League Baseball Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. He has until Aug. 15 to sign with the club or continue his amateur career with the Wolfpack.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The 2011 Preseason Sweet 16 Football Poll: No. 13 Sun Valley

 NOTE: Each day, the Observer will unveil a team ranked in its Sweet 16 football poll. We continue today with No. 13 Sun Valley. Thursday (Aug. 4) around 3 p.m, the No. 12 team will be unveiled and each day at 3 p.m. a new team will follow.







By Langston Wertz Jr.
lwertz@charlotteobserver.com


INDIAN TRAIL -- This season, it won’t take long for Sun Valley High’s passionate football fans to know exactly how good their team is.

The Spartans generated some buzz last season, finishing 10-3 and reaching the second round of the N.C. 4A playoffs. Three stars from that team -- quarterback Ryan Smith, running back Jadarrius Williams and receiver Jody Fuller -- are all back. That trio accounted for more than 4,700 yards last season and Williams was the Southern Carolina conference offensive player of the year.

But with that kind of success and that kind of talent returning, sometimes scheduling can be a problem. When Spartans coach Scott Stein began calling around for games, he wasn’t getting many returned messages.

“What happened to us,” he said, “should not happen to anybody. We had six games to fill and all six from last year would not renew. I don’t recall that ever happening. At that point it made things difficult for us.”

So when state power Richmond Senior called, Stein jumped at the chance, even though it was a road game in Rockingham on Aug. 19, annually one of the toughest sites in North Carolina to win a game.

Stein also added nationally ranked Mallard Creek on Aug. 26, and would’ve had nationally ranked Butler on Sept. 2, but the teams couldn’t make it work because both needed a home game.
Playing Richmond and Mallard Creek in back-to-back weeks would’ve been tough enough, but adding a two-time defending state champ on a 31-game win streak in the third would’ve been brutal.

Stein said he didn’t mind.

“We’re not going to hide from an opponent,” Stein said, “but that’s not to say we’re a glutton for punishment. We didn’t put Richmodn County or Mallard Creek on the schedule to get beat. We feel we’re a talented team and that we can play with anybody. We’ll get to find out early this year and that’s exciting for us. People thought we were a little silly to schedule Vance and Olympic and Ashbrook and Asheville (last season) but I don’t believe you will get anywhere by beating everybody to death and not facing good competition until you get to conference play.”

Stein’s team started getting ready for this big season by getting together for a four-day team camp at UNC-Pembroke last month. Each player paid $200 to attend and Stein said 105 players went, staying in pairs in dorm rooms.

“We put them with their positions and try to put an old guy with a young guy,” Stein said. “It’s about building some comraderie and building into the type team we want to be. We have some talented kids.
The biggest thing is for us to get out of them the best that they can be.”

So far, Stein said he’s seeing the effort, and in a few weeks, thanks to that tough schedule, he’ll find out for sure.

“In a football-team environment,” he said, “it’s all about how they will come together. When you’ve got some names out there in the paper, you have to worry about egos and people not being team players but that’s what has been so pleasant this year. All these kids are great kids. We’ve gotten some leadership out of them. Great players can do great things, but you have to have a team in order to win.”

Langston Wertz Jr: 704-612-9716; twitter.com/langstonwertzjr; facebook.com/langstonwertzjr; charlotteobserver.com/preps

SUN VALLEY OVERVIEW
Last year:
10-3
What’s new: Sun Valley lost defensive coordinator Tim Carson who is now head coach at Weddington. Carson had been with the team for eight years. Rocky Richar, the school’s baseball coach, will take over the defense. Sun Valley also has to deal with big expectations, something the school isn’t necessarily used to.
Three to watch:
C Jarred Barr, 6-3, 270, Sr. College recruit has had a strong summer and will anchor the offensive line.
WR/QB Kevin Saxton, 6-3, 180, Jr. Big-time athlete who filled in for QB Ryan Smith last season and has great hands.
LB Luke Gill, 6-0, 190, Jr. Played a lot last season as sophomore reserve in multiple positions. Stein expects him to have a big year.
Bet you didn’t know: There’s been a lot of talk about Sun Valley’s offensive prowess but Stein said the team is young everywhere except its skill positions.
Preview analysis: This is a big year for the Spartans, returning three big-time offensive playmakers in QB Ryan Smith, RB Jadarrius Williams and WR Jody Fuller. More than 1,000 fans showed up for a special “Midnight Madness” start to practice last month and those fans will find out quickly how good their team is. Sun Valley has a tough schedule with Richmond Senior and Mallard Creek in the first two weeks. Flip side? Come conference season, the Spartans will be tougher and battle-tested.
Schedule: Aug. 19, at Richmond Senior; Aug. 26, Mallard Creek; Sept. 2, idle; Sept. 9 Garinger; Sept. 16, Red Springs; Sept. 23, at Clover; Sept. 30, at Anson; Oct. 7, at Marvin Ridge; Oct. 14, Parkwood; Oct. 21, @ Weddington; Oct. 28, Porter Ridge.

THE SWEET 16 (so far)


No. 12: ??? (to be announced at 3 p.m. Thursday at CharlotteObserver.com and in Friday's print edition)
No. 13: Sun Valley 4A
No. 14: Independence 4A
No. 15: Lincolnton 2A
No. 16: Albemarle 1A

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The 2011 Preseason Sweet 16 Football Poll: No. 14 Independence

NOTE: Each day, the Observer will unveil a team ranked in its Sweet 16 football poll. We continue today with No. 14 Independence. Wednesday (Aug. 3) around 3 p.m, the No. 13 team will be unveiled and each day at 3 p.m. a new team will follow.
By Ron Green Jr.
rgreenjr@charlotteobserver.com

 At Independence, everything was different last season.

 Long-time football coach Tom Knotts had left for Irmo, S.C., and hundreds of students had been reassigned to the new Rocky River high school.

 The football team, once rich with talent, was short on numbers and head coach Bill Geiler, back for his second turn in charge of the program, wasn’t fully prepared for what he was inheriting.

 The result was a 3-8 season.

 For a program that won 109 consecutive games and seven straight state championships just a few years earlier, it was a sudden, sobering fall.

 "I didn’t know who my players were going to be. I didn’t know who was coming back and who wasn’t," Geiler said. "A number of players were at Butler where they won a championship. We lost 40 players right off the bat (with Rocky River opening).

 "I had a quarterback who had to learn a new system, new coaches, a new school and new players. It was hard. We had guys playing who would have been on the bench or not on the team at all a few years before. But they never quit. They never whined. They never complained. But they were outmanned."

 This year, Geiler said, should be better.

 He can already sense a better team chemistry, an element that went missing last season.

 "They want to put last year in their far, far memories," Geiler said.

 Geiler has made changes on the coaching staff. Long-time offensive coordinator Jon Strong has retired and been replaced by Joe Evans, who is tweaking the offense. Geiler said he had 16 assistant coaches last season, too many in his opinion, so he’s scaled back this year.

 It will be centered around quarterback Evan Guest, a 6-foot, 2-inch, 180-pound senior who accounted for more yardage than any player in Mecklenburg County last season. The Patriots were ineffective running the ball so they were forced to rely on Guest’s throwing ability to move the ball.

 The emphasis will remain on the passing game, Geiler said, but he’s hopeful the Patriots will be better able to run the ball.

 Guest isn’t in the Chris Leak-Joe Cox quarterback class but Geiler said his senior has made dramatic strides. He’s attended several combines, recently attending an invitation-only combine in Oklahoma.
The reviews, Geiler said, have been outstanding.

 "He doesn’t have the arm strength, the knowledge or the training that (Leak and Cox) had," Geiler said. "He couldn’t do a three-step drop. He couldn’t throw into coverage.

 "But he’s made himself better. He’s doing phenomenally."

 Guest will be responsible for running the Independence offense at a quicker pace than last season. The scheme has been simplified and players have been working on it since January.

 The Patriots have a good group of receivers led by Austin Duke, who has Shrine Bowl potential, Geiler said.

 Twice last year, the Patriots lost close games because they failed to score from inside the five-yard line in part because of a weak running game. R.J. Baker and Isaiah Robinson are being counted on to remedy that problem this season.

 Geiler remains in charge of the defense, which is led by linebacker Kahlil Gonzales and cornerback Jack Tocho.

 What the Patriots can’t afford are injuries.

 "We have no depth," Geiler said.

 But the Patriots do have reason for optimism.

 "I’m happy with my kids. They all bought into what we’re doing," Geiler said. "This team is going to get better. The goal is to beat Hough in the first game and go from there.
 "We want to make the playoffs and win the state title. The reality is I don’t know if we have enough bodies to that. But this team could be as good as some of the early teams we had (at Independence)."

 INDEPENDENCE
Last year:
3-8
What’s new: Joe Evans is the Patriots’ new offensive coordinator, replacing Jon Strong who retired. Evans played at West Mecklenburg and Appalachian State.
Three to watch:
QB Evan Guest (6-2, 180), Sr. He has gained 20 pounds through a relentless workout routine.
LB Kahlil Gonzales (5-9, 170) Sr. Coach Bill Geiler calls him the "leader of the whole program."
CB Jack Tocho (5-11, 185) Jr. Moved from linebacker to secondary and has excellent speed.
Bet you didn’t know: Cornerback Jack Tocho was clocked electronically running a 4.4 40-yard dash this summer.
Preview analysis: After struggling through a difficult season due to multiple changes last year, the Patriots have the potential to regain some of their former glory. If they can stay healthy and quarterback Evan Guest has a big season, Independence could win plenty of games.
Schedule: Aug. 19, at Hough; Aug. 26, at North Mecklenburg; Sept. 2, Vance; Sept. 9, West Charlotte; Sept. 16, at East Mecklenburg; Sept. 23, Ardrey Kell; Sept. 30, at Providence; Oct. 6, South Mecklenburg; Oct. 14, Rocky River; Oct. 21, at Myers Park; Oct. 28, Butler.

 THE SWEET 16
No. 13 ??? (Unveiled 8/3 at 3 p.m.)
No. 14: Independence 4A
No. 15: Lincolnton 2A
No. 16: Albemarle 1A

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mallard Creek OL DJ Humphries to announce commitment Friday

Mallard Creek offensive lineman D.J. Humphries, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound rising senior, will pick a college Friday.

Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri said Humphries would announce his commitment during a 7 p.m. ceremony at school Friday. Humphries is the top recruit in North Carolina, ranked No. 3 overall nationally by rivals.com and No. 7 by ESPN.

Palmieiri said Humphries will choose from these finalists: Clemson, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Humphries, a B student, will graduate from Mallard Creek in December and enroll in his new school in January.

"He just wants to get the process over," Palmieri said. "He doesn't want to do it during the season and wants to focus on what we do."

The 2011 Preseason Sweet 16 Football Poll: No. 15

NOTE: Each day, the Observer will unveil a team ranked in its Sweet 16 football poll. We continue today with No. 15 Lincolnton. Tuesday (Aug. 2) at 3 p.m, the No. 14 team will be unveiled and each day at 3 p.m. a new team will follow.

By Brett Honeycutt
Correspondent
Brett HoneycuttCorrespondent
            Not much has changed at Lincolnton since the school’s first football season in 1959.
            The football program has had only three head coaches – Von Ray Harris, Richard Smith and current coach Scott Cloninger, who played for Harris and Smith – and the Wolves still run an option-style offense like Harris ran from 1959 to 1986.
            And they continue to win.
            The Wolves’ first of 17 conference titles came in 1960 and the most recent was last season, when they finished 14-1 overall and 5-0 in the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A conference.
            Expectations are high again, which is why Lincolnton enters at No. 15 in the Observer’s Sweet 16 preseason rankings this season.
            “No turnover no change,” said Cloninger, who played for Lincolnton in 1971-74 when Harris was head coach and Smith was an assistant, and was an assistant under Harris and Smith before taking over in 2000. “They’re going to get coached the same way. A lot of our former players are coaching or assisting coaches. Half (of our assistants) are former players.”
            “That feeds (the tradition) more than anything,” Cloninger said of having former players helping. “There’s a pride factor, a care factor that they want to be there and coach. That, in and of itself, has established Lincolnton’s tradition more than anything.”
            “They’re not going to see a change every year. There are some (schools) that have had three coaches in three years, and here they don’t have to worry about that.”
            Harris passed away in March at the age of 86, but before that both he and Smith were at games supporting the team.
            All three are part of the tradition that has helped Lincolnton win two state titles (1993 and 2007) and finish runner-up three times (1967, 1994, 2005), and are also the reasons Lincolnton has such a huge following.
            The stadium seats 4,400 and had standing room only crowds last season, topping out at more than 6,000 for the West Lincoln game.
            “We’re doing reserved seats this year,” Cloninger said. “First year in a long time we’re doing that. It’s been a madhouse. Last year, people put down blankets on Sunday and Monday for Friday’s game. We could have taken care of the Christian ministries with all the blankets in the stadium.”
            The reason for the excitement this season isn’t only the tradition, but the talent Lincolnton returns this year has the potential to win a state championship.
            The excitement stems from the return of eight players on offense and defense and a team that averaged 40.6 points per game last season, scoring more than 49 points four times and scoring less than 40 only four times. The defense gave up an average of 16.5 points per game.
            Leading the returnees is senior Michael Cunningham (6-0, 205), a running back who is also a dangerous kick returner. Likely the most valuable player on the field, he is a preseason all-state selection by NCPreps and scored five defensive touchdowns last year in helping the Wolves to the N.C. 2A West Regional final.
            Also returning are seniors Dee Littlejohn (6-1, 220 pound, fullback) and another versatile player in Jalen Littlejohn (6-2, 180, wingback, wide receiver, cornerback, safety, outside linebacker).
            Add to that East Lincoln transfer Patrick Rendleman (6-2, 185, quarterback), who passed for 789 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 685 yards and seven scores in only nine games, and it’s easy to see why the excitement has swelled.
            “We’re not a big team,” Cloninger said. “Lincolnton High School has never been a big-bodied team. We’re a quick, very aggressive team on both sides of the ball. And there’s a lot of hype in the city of Lincolnton. There are a lot of people in the city of Lincolnton ready for some football.”


 
 LINCOLNTON
Last year:
14-1, 5-0 Southern Piedmont 1A/2A (advanced to 2A West final before losing 41-27 to Winston-Salem Carver)
What’s new: Former East Lincoln quarterback Patrick Rendleman moved into the Lincolnton district last winter and will be the starting quarterback.
Three to watch:
FB/WB/PR/KR Michael Cunningham (6-0, 205), Sr.: NCPreps preseason 2A All-State as a specialist. All-around, versatile athlete who can run and catch the ball out of the backfield, but he’s more dangerous returning kicks and in the secondary (scored three TDs by interception, returned a fumble and blocked punt for two more scores).
FB Dee Littlejohn (6-1, 220), Sr.: Big, strong, fast fullback who can outrun most people in the secondary.
WB/QB/WR Jalen Littlejohn (6-2, 180), Sr.: Can play multiple positions not just on offense, but defense (OLB, CB, S), as well, and is one of the main leaders on both sides of the ball.
Bet you didn’t know: Team has gone to Lees-McRae the past few summers for football camp. It’s helped team chemistry and given them a chance to play 7-on-7 games against teams they don’t see in the regular season: Watauga (4A), Fred T. Foard (3A) and West Wilkes (2A).
Preview analysis: The skill positions will be strong on both sides of the ball, but depth will be their weakness as a lot of players will have to play both offense and defense.
Schedule: Aug.: 19, at Maiden; 26, Belmont South Point; Sept.: 2, Lake Norman Charter; 9, at Shelby; 16, Gastonia Forestview; 23 Gastonia Highland Tech; Sep. 30, East Lincoln; Oct. 7, at Cherryville; 14, at Bessemer City; 21, North Lincoln; 28, at West Lincoln.

THE SWEET 16
14. ??? To be announced 8/2 at 3 p.m.
15. Lincolnton
16. Albemarle