Game of the Week: Crest @ South Point: After falling to the South Point Red Raiders eight straight times, the Crest Chargers feel that this is their best chance to end the losing streak against their former conference rival. Crest was the 3AA State Runner-up last year while South Point made it no further than the third round of the playoffs. But this a new year for both teams. The Red Raiders only return 9 starters from last year, but are always a dangerous squad. Two of those returning starters are quarterback Jaquan Brooks and Safety Tanner Muse. Muse is currently committed to Clemson. This game could be much closer than last year’s 35-16 South Point victory.
My pick: Crest 28 – South Point 24
Burns @ Ashbrook: These two teams met last year with Burns coming away with a 29-24 victory. However, Burns lost a lot from last year including former head coach Matt Beam. Ashbrook, on the other hand, returns 15 starters from a team that finished second in Big South action. Things could get bad before they get better for the Bulldogs.
My pick: Ashbrook 45 – Burns 14
Forestview @ Nation Ford, SC: This will be the eighth annual meeting between these two interstate rivals. However, this has been one-sided lately as the Falcons have taken four straight from the Jaguars including last year’s 57-56 barnburner. The Jaguars hope to snap the losing streak to Nation Ford. The Jaguars will also be confronted with the task of replacing quarterback Logan Bradley and wide out Mykelti Armstrong and many starters on defense. But one of the key returnees is Division I prospect Moe Neal (RB/SB).
My pick: Nation Ford 35 – Forestview 28
Bessemer City @ North Gaston: Bessemer City is expected to be in the running for the Southern Piedmont 1A conference crown, but it’s usually a different ball game when they visit neighboring 3A teams like North Gaston. The Wildcats will have to replace some key players on offense, but they look to be heading in the right direction. Last year was their best season since 2007 when they were the state 3A runner-ups.
My pick: North Gaston 35 – Bessemer City 14
Kings Mountain @ Hunter Huss: After a tough 1-6 start last year, the Huskies made a big turnaround winning five of their last seven games, including to playoffs wins over West Lincoln and Bunker Hill. Their run ended with a 24-14 loss against Parkwood. The biggest piece of their last year, Kerrion Moore, graduated so it will be up to Senior quarterback Andrew Jordan to lead the Huskies. Jamar McCoy takes over the reins of head coach after Steve Gardner stepped down. Kings Mountain, on the other hand, returns the majority of their starting line-up from last year and should be much better than last season’s disappointing 2-9 record.
My pick: Kings Mountain 35 – Hunter Huss 21
Thomas Jefferson @ Stuart Cramer: Welcome to varsity, Stuart Cramer. Thomas Jefferson won’t necessarily be an easy game to break into varsity play against. They are expected to be in the running for the Southern Piedmont 1A conference. The Storm will also have to play their entire season without starting quarterback Noah Oxendine.
My pick: Thomas Jefferson 42 – Stuart Cramer 13
East Gaston @ East Lincoln: East Gaston is looking to put the hardships of last season behind them. East Lincoln is hoping to return to the state title game. They were eliminated in the third round of the playoffs last year by Monroe 34-13. The Surratt brothers return for the Mustangs and that means their offense will be difficult to stop. Last year, the Mustangs defeated East Gaston, but later on had to forfeit. The Mustangs had to forfeit two more wins after that. East Gaston has switched their offense to a spread offense and hopes that will help steer them to more wins and a chance to return to the playoffs.
My pick: East Lincoln 37 – East Gaston 20
Lincolnton @ North Lincoln: North Lincoln faces the first of three county rivals to start the season given they are in a different conference. Lincolnton, with 16 starters back this year, could seriously challenge county rival, East Lincoln, for the Midwestern 2A conference. Lincolnton advanced to the third round of the 2A state playoffs last year and narrowly lost to Reidsville 13-10. North Lincoln brings back 15 from last year and are hopeful to move up in the North Piedmont 4A/3A conference. Since both of these teams are competing in challenging conferences, that’s what makes this opening game very critical for these two.
My pick: Lincolnton 35 – North Lincoln 21
West Lincoln @ Draughn: West Lincoln started off 7-1 last year before dropping their final four games, including the 30-27 playoff loss to Hunter Huss. The Rebels are hoping for another fast start. Look for this to have a similar outcome to last year’s 28-21 West Lincoln victory.
My pick: West Lincoln 24 – Draughn 20
Bunker Hill @ Cherryville: Bunker Hill has taken five straight from Cherryville. Cherryville is another team that is switching things up offensively to hopefully create more opportunities for more wins. Will that be enough to stop the skid against Bunker Hill?
My pick: Bunker Hill 34 – Cherryville 20
Polk County @ Shelby: The Shelby Golden Lions begin the defense of their 2A state championship tonight as they host Polk County. The Golden Lions defeated the Wolverines 38-21 in last year’s opener. The Wolverines will have their hands full with all the speed the Golden Lions are bringing to the table. Look for Shelby to walk away with a convincing win.
My pick: Shelby 45 – Polk County 21