Gaston, Lincoln and Cleveland Week 1 Picks
Game of the Week: Crest @ Burns: Look for this game to be a major sellout. Crest brings a 12-4 team from last year to Lawndale to take on Burns, who went 11-2 last year. The Chargers were just one point away from winning the 3AA State Title last year. Burns went down much sooner than people thought they would. They lost 38-35 to Asheville in the second round of the 3A state playoffs. All that is history as these two take the field. The Bulldogs are hoping this match-up is better than last year’s 42-19 thumping by the Chargers. Burns defense looked strong in the Cleveland County Jamboree against East Lincoln, but how will they fare against a high-powered Crest offense? Look to see University of Florida signee Rhaheem Ledbetter and D1 prospect Jonathan Bullard play on both sides of the ball.
My pick: Crest 21 – Burns 14
Clover, SC @ South Point: This has been an interesting off-season for the Red Raiders. South Point and head coach John Devine part ways as he takes the head coaching position at Clover. Mickey Lineberger takes over the reins at South Point and hopes to take the first game in the series against his former boss. While Devine left Lineberger with a stable of talent to work with, Devine himself will be left having to start from scratch especially on offense since they only have three starters back from last year’s squad. After three failed attempts to dispatch the Blue Eagles, this looks like the Red Raiders’ best chance at doing it. The Red Raiders return quarterback Patrick Horne, fullback Troy Leeper, wingback/fullback and Tyler Bray along with many others.
My pick: South Point 27 – Clover 14
Shelby @ Kannapolis-A.L. Brown: Both teams are traditional powerhouses. Both have made consistent runs in the playoffs. However, both teams break in new coaches. Both head coaches (Ron Massey of A.L. Brown and Chris Norman of Shelby) retired. Shelby promotes assistant Lance Ware to take the head coaching job at Shelby. Brown made a bigger splash when they brought in Mike Newsome, the former head coach of Butler. Newsome led Butler to two 4AA State Titles. Newsome looks to continue the trend at A.L. Brown. Ware looks to keep the winning tradition going on at Shelby. This match-up will be the first step in achieving that goal. Shelby will switch from the Double-Wing offense to a Spread attack. It could take a little time for the Golden Lions to adjust, but once they do they will be dangerous.
My pick: A.L. Brown 28 – Shelby 14
Nation Ford, SC @ Forestview: This looks like it’s forming into another over-the-border rivalry. This is the fifth year that the Falcons and Jaguars faced off with each other. The series is even with these two with both going 2-0 in their own stadium. The Falcons rallied to beat Forestview 28-16 last year after trailing 16-7 at the start of the third quarter. The Jaguars are hoping to avenge that loss and could have the tools to do it with runningback Octavius Wallace back and Florida International signee Jamie Collmar to open up lanes for him.
My Pick: Forestview 27- Nation Ford 20
East Gaston @ Hunter Huss: The Warriors and the Huskies open up with each other for the third year in a row. The Warriors will bring a much improved team from last year’s 5-7 team. The Huskies are looking to get back in the playoffs after missing it last year with a 3-8 record including five straight losses to close out the season. Runningback Kerrion Moore returns for the Huskies after off-season surgery. Like last year’s 10-7 East Gaston victory, look for this one to go down to the wire.
My pick: East Gaston 28 – Hunter Huss 20
North Gaston @ Asheville: North Gaston’s new coach Mike Patton could not face a much tougher task to start off the season as his Wildcats get ready for a long road trip to Asheville. The last time these two met, the Wildcats beat the Cougars 35-34 on their way to the 2007 3A State Title game. The Wildcats fell short in that game and it was downhill from there as they amassed only one win in three seasons. Optimism has picked up at North Gaston this off-season and they should make strides this year. But, this will likely be the Cougars’ night.
My pick: Asheville 41 – North Gaston 7
Cherryville @ Bunker Hill: The Bears and the Ironmen open up with each other for 16th straight year. The Bears won the last two match-ups between these two and the Ironmen are hoping to stop that trend from going on another year. Cherryville only returns nine starters from last year’s 7-5 squad so they will face an uphill battle to start the season.
My pick: Bunker Hill 38 – Cherryville 20
Lincolnton @ Maiden: The Wolves are coming off a spectacular season. After finishing the regular season 11-0, the Wolves looked primed to represent the 2AA West in the state title game. But they fell short against a tough Carver team 41-27 in the Western finals. With 15 starters back from that squad, the Wolves could have another shot. Plus, they add East Lincoln transfer Patrick Rendleman. Rendleman will be the Wolves quarterback. Maiden finished 8-4 last year, including a 52-21 blowout by Polk County in the first round of the playoffs. However with 14 starters back from the 2010 squad, the Blue Devils should make strides and possibly compete for the CVAC title. The Wolves might be a little too much for the Blue Devils in this one, though.
My pick: Lincolnton 35 – Maiden 21
North Lincoln @ Fred T. Foard: These two teams square off with each other for the first time. Both teams are trying to forget last year. North Lincoln finished 2-9 while Fred T. Foard was winless at 0-11. Both teams have new head coaches this year and are looking to start a new beginning. A win tonight for either of these two teams would be the first step in that direction.
My pick: North Lincoln 20 – Fred T. Foard 17
Newton-Conover @ East Lincoln: This is the eighth time in six years that these two have gone against each other. The Red Devils have taken seven of those eight games from the Mustangs. The only exception was a 23-17 overtime East Lincoln win in the 2007 playoffs. Both teams are young this year. The Mustangs only return nine starters from last year’s team while Newton-Conover only returns four. Can the Mustangs take advantage of the Red Devils’ youth or does Newton-Conover simply have East Lincoln’s number?
My pick: East Lincoln 24 – Newton-Conover 20
Kings Mountain @ East Rutherford: After rebounding from a 4-7 season to make the playoffs last year, Kings Mountain may find themselves in another uphill battle this year. They return only five starters from last year. However, their defense has looked good in their scrimmage against Mooresville and could give the Cavaliers’ offense trouble.
My pick: Kings Mountain 21 – East Rutherford 14
West Lincoln @ Chase: The Rebels have had their best season in school history last year as they went 8-4. Can they possibly do that again? It will be an uphill climb with some of the talent they lost from last year. This game against Chase could set the tone on how the season may go for West Lincoln.
My pick: West Lincoln 24 – Chase 20
Highland Technology @ Victory Christian Academy: The Rams will play in a real conference this year. It may be a rocky first year back with the big boys. Last year the Rams came real close to taking down the Kings, but fell short in two overtimes.
My pick: Victory Christian 28 – Highland Tech. 21
Did you know? Crest was just 9 points away from an undefeated season last year. Their losses included a 20-17 loss to Ashbrook, a 34-31 loss to A.C. Reynolds, a 29-27 loss to South Point and a 21-20 loss to Northern Guilford in the state title game.