Union County High School Football Previews

By Jay Edwards and

Langston Wertz Jr.

Weddington High football: chasing a repeat state title

Since 2014, Weddington High School has been in three state championship games. This season the Warriors will try to repeat as NC 3AA champions. Thirteen starters are back along with 5-star All-American Will Shipley By
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Since 2014, Weddington High School has been in three state championship games. This season the Warriors will try to repeat as NC 3AA champions. Thirteen starters are back along with 5-star All-American Will Shipley By

Preseason all county team

Offense

QB – Sully McDermott, Marvin Ridge, 6-4, 210, Jr.

RB – Will Shipley, Weddington, 5-11, 205, Jr.

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RB – Jadus Davis, Metrolina Christian, 5-9, 165, Sr.

RB – Connor Purser, Piedmont, 5-10, 175, Sr.

WR – Gavin Blackwell, Sun Valley, 6-0, 170, Jr.

WR – Shaleek Knotts, Monroe, 6-3, 175, So.

WR – Derek Young, Union Academy, 6-3, 195, Sr.

OL – Phifer Griffin, Union Academy, 6-5, 295, Sr.

OL – Michael Gonzalez, Sun Valley, 6-5, 270, Sr.

OL – Lucas Rogers, Weddington, 6-0, 230, Sr.

OL – Omarion Rushing, Monroe, 6-3, 265, Jr.

OL – Ethan Head, Parkwood, 5-11, 260, Sr.

Specialists

ATH – Ian Hutter, Marvin Ridge, 5-11, 185, Jr.

SPEC – Salen Streater, Monroe, 5-10, 175, Sr.

K/P – Ian Williams, Weddington, 6-3, 210, Sr.

Defense

DL – Davidson Carroll, Porter Ridge, 6-3, 190, Sr.

DL – Joe Zovitoski, Weddington, 6-0, 190, Jr.

DL – Tezien Grier, Monroe, 6-0, 205, Sr.

DL – Romel Wright, Forest Hills, 6-3, 240, Jr.

LB – Alec Mock, Weddington, 6-3, 230, Sr.

LB – Trey Alsbrooks, Weddington, 6-2, 215, Sr.

LB – Dylan Burdette, Porter Ridge, 5-11, 185, Sr.

DB – Brooks Gsell, Piedmont, 6-1, 185, Sr.

DB – Colby Girard, Metrolina Christian, 5-11, 180, Sr.

DB – Jack Makarewicz, Marvin Ridge, 6-0, 175, Sr.

DB – Jackson Cheek, Cuthbertson, 6-2, 185, Sr.

Union County Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Will Shipley, Weddington RB, Jr.

Union County Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Alec Mock, Weddington, LB, Sr.

School Previews

CUTHBERTSON

Head Coach: Trey Kavanaugh (1st year as Cuthbertson head coach).

2018 Record: 3-8 (3-4 in the Southern Carolinas’ conference (SCC).

2019 Conference: SCC/3A.

Returning Starters: 12

Returning Letterman: 20

Key Returning Starters: Nick Robinson, Sr., OL (6-2, 285); Myles Lopez, Jr., OL (6-2, 290); Jay Rector, Jr., WR (5-10, 160); Jackson Cheek, Sr., DB (6-2, 185); Robbie Crump, Sr., DB (6-0, 175); Daylen Teasley, So., DB (5-11, 165); Jack Rhinehart, Sr., RB (5-10, 165).

Key Newcomers: Evan Bernard, Jr., (6-0, 175); Cole Glass, Sr., OL (6-2, 290); Anthony Goodloe, So., LB (5-11, 175); Miles Teasley, Jr., (5-10, 160).

Outlook: Former Appalachian State player and Ardrey Kell assistant Trey Kavanaugh takes over a Cuthbertson team that has struggled the last last two years going 8-16 in that span. Kavanaugh, nephew of former App coach Jerry Moore, will have a huge challenge with a younger overall team in a tough league. The Cavaliers will need veterans like WR/KR Jay Rector and RB Jack Rhinehart to play well on offense as well as DBs Jackson Cheek and Robbie Crump on defense to make a move towards the postseason.

FOREST HILLS

Head Coach: Cory Smith (4th year as Forest Hills’ head coach; 8-26 at Forest Hills).

2018 Record: 3-8 (2-2 in the Rocky River conference).

2019 Conference: Rocky River conference/2A.

Returning Starters: 15

Returning Letterman: 29

Key Returning Starters: Romel Wright, Jr., TE/DE (6-3, 240); Jake Mullis, Jr., OL (6-3, 240); Brian Smith, Jr., OG/DL (6-2, 275); Rowen Starnes, So., OL (6-2, 265); J.J. Williams, Jr., WR/SS (6-3, 185); Tyquan Rushing, Jr., WR/S (6-2, 175); Brent Springs, Sr., LB (5-9, 170).

Key Newcomers: Cannon Davis, Jr., QB (6-2, 210); Ahmahd Stafford, Jr., RB/DB (5-9, 165).

Outlook: Forest Hills has struggled in recent years with a total of eight wins in the last three seasons. This year, with 15 starters back, the Yellow Jackets have a chance to improve. On defense, DE Romel Wright (61 tackles, 10 sacks), LB Brent Springs (81 tackles) return to lead an experienced unit. The Forest Hills’ offense will also get some help with junior varsity standouts in QB Cannon Davis and RB Ahmahd Stafford, joining a veteran offensive line. After taking their lumps with a younger team the last few years, Coach Cory Smith finally has the experience to contend for a Rocky River conference title and be a factor in the postseason.

MARVIN RIDGE

Head Coach: Aubrey Carter (5th year as Marvin Ridge head coach; 32-18 at Marvin Ridge).

2018 Record: 6-6 (3-4 in the Southern Carolinas’ Conference (SCC)).

2019 Conference: SCC/3AA.

Returning Starters: 10 (5 offense; 5 defense).

Returning Letterman: 27

Key Returning Starters: Ian Hutter, Jr., WR (5-11, 185); Aidan Twombly, Sr., TE (6-4, 210); Chase Speicher, Sr., CB/WR (6-0, 175); Jeb Despard, Jr., LB (6-0, 200); Jack Makarewicz, Sr., S (6-0, 175); Josiah Snapper, Sr., OL (6-1, 220); Sean O’Brien, Sr., OL/DL (6-2, 225).

Key Newcomers: Sully McDermott, Jr., QB (6-4, 210); Tanner Blackwell, Jr., LB (6-0, 210); Caden Noonkester, Jr., K/P (6-5, 215); Owen Barr, Jr., CB/S (5-11, 165); Jacob Terwilliger, So., RB/LB (6-1, 215); Devin Reed, So., DT (6-0, 260).

Outlook: Marvin Ridge averaged eight wins per season over Carter’s first four seasons, before slipping to 6-6 last year. This year, junior QB Sully McDermott and junior WR Ian Hutter (74 catches for 874 yards last year) will have to step up on offense, while senior DBs Jack Makarewicz and Chase Speicher will lead the defense.

METROLINA CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Thomas Langley (10th year as Metrolina Christian football coach, 59-32).

2018 Record: 8-4 (4-0 in the NCISAA Western Conference).

2019 Conference: Piedmont Athletic Conference/NCISAA 4A.

Returning Starters: 12

Returning Letterman: 23

Key Returning Starters: Jadus Davis, Sr., Slot/RB/DB (5-9, 165); Colby Girard, Sr., FS/WR (5-11, 180); Angel Gonzalez, Sr., QB (6-0, 175); Jed Wooten, Sr., WR (6-1, 175); Colton Fitch, Jr., LB (6-0, 200); Luke Roffler, Sr., DB (5-9, 170); Tommy Miller, So., S (5-10, 165); Indiana Moen, Sr., LB (6-0, 200).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Metrolina Christian has averaged eight wins per season over the last five years, and had one of their best seasons in school history at 8-4 in 2018, finishing as NCISAA Div. II runner-up to Charlotte Country Day. This season, the Warriors have plenty of firepower, starting with senior RB Jadus Davis (2,194 all-purpose yards, 23 touchdowns last year) and senior QB Angel Gonzalez (823 yards passing, eight touchdowns in four starts). On defense, senior all-state free safety Colby Girard (40 tackles, five interceptions), LB Indiana Moen (71 tackles) and junior LB Colton Fitch (81 tackles) are back to lead an experienced unit.

MONROE

Head Coach: Johnny Sowell (14th year as Monroe head coach; 127-62 at Monroe).

2018 Record: 7-6 (3-4 in the Southern Carolinas’ Conference (SCC)).

2019 Conference: SCC/3A.

Returning Starters: 9

Returning Letterman: 11

Key Returning Starters: Salen Streater, Sr., RB/WR/DB (5-10, 175); Max Helms, Sr., WR/DB (6-0, 180); Omarion Rushing, Jr., OL/DL (6-3, 265); Jemarion Rushing, Jr., OL/DL (6-3, 265); Shaleak Knotts, So., WR/DB (6-3, 175); Jordan Black, Jr., WR/DB (5-7, 155); Elliott Reid, So., DB/WR (5-8, 165); Chris Andon, Sr., K/P (5-3, 180); Tezien Grier, Sr., DE/RB (6-0, 205).

Key Newcomers: Ricardo Brown, Jr., RB/LB (5-10, 175); Jakhob Covington, So., WR/DB (5-8, 165); Jalen Smith, So., DE/WR (6-3, 175); Jaqulin Burch, Sr., LB/WR (6-0, 200); Montavious Waters, So., OL/DL (5-10,, 220); Jadarian Perry, So., OL/DL (5-10, 225); Omarion Huntley, Jr., OL/DL (6-7, 270).

Outlook: Monroe has been up and down in the last two years, going 12-13 in that span. This season, Sowell return nine starters and will look to playmakers like sophomore WR Shaleak Knotts (51 catches, 10 touchdowns last year; 9 D-I offers), senior WR Salen Streater and junior OLs Jemarion and Omarion Rushing on offense. LB/DE Tezien Grier and DB Elliott Reid will lead the defense.

PARKWOOD

Head Coach: Tim Speakman (3rd year as Parkwood head coach; 4-18 at Parkwood; 75-37 overall).

2018 Record: 2-9 (1-7 in the Southern Carolinas’ Conference (SCC)).

2019 Conference: SCC/3A.

Returning Starters: NA

Returning Letterman: NA

Key Returning Starters: Austin Cain, Sr., TE/LB/P (6-1, 225); Brock Cain, Sr., QB (6-0, 210); Daniel Morrison, Sr., LB/TE (6-2, 240); Kyle Knox, Sr., DB/WR (5-11, 155); Wyne McGriff, Sr., DB/WR/KR (5-11, 150); Matthew Isom, Sr., OL/DL (6-0, 230); Makiya Evans, Jr., WR/DB (5-10, 150); Sametrius Drakeford, Sr., RB/DB (5-10, 175).

Key Newcomers: Cody Hardy, So., TE/LB (6-3, 215).

Outlook: Parkwood is 4-18 in the last two years, including 1-13 in the SCC. The Rebels should be better this year with a veteran team also getting a boost from a junior varsity that went 8-3 last year. Senior QB Brock Cain (1,117 yards passing last year), RB Sametrius Drakeford and WRs Kyle Knox and Wyne McGriff are back to lead the offense. Meanwhile, LBs Austin Cain (84 tackles), Daniel Morrison (87 tackles) and DB Makiya Evans headline the defense.

PIEDMONT

Head Coach: Johnathan Castator (1st year as Piedmont football coach).

2018 Record: 2-9 (0-7 in the Southern Carolinas’ Conference).

2019 Conference: Southern Carolinas’ Conference (SCC)/3A.

Returning Starters: 16

Returning Letterman: 24

Key Returning Starters: Brooks Gsell, Sr., WR/S (6-1, 185); Connor Purser, Sr., RB/LB (5-10, 175); Troy Hagin, Sr., RB/DB (5-9, 180); Ty Nicholas, Jr., DT/TE (6-4, 260); Quame McClendon, Sr., DE/WR (6-3, 215); Henry Saunders, Jr., QB (6-1, 175); Eli Venn, Sr., DT/FB (5-11, 265).

Key Newcomers: Evan Sawyer, So., RB/WR/DB (5-11, 165); Caleb Baucom, So., RB/WR/DB (5-9, 160); Luke James, Jr., OL/DL (6-4, 275).

Outlook: Piedmont has struggled in the last three years going 8-25, including a 2-9 campaign last year, when they were winless in league play (SCC). This season, Castador -- a former Porter Ridge offensive coordinator -- looks to open up the usually, conservative, Piedmont offense but will still look to the running game with senior RBs Connor Purser (1,228 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns last year), Troy Hagin (572 yards rushing) and junior QB Henry Saunders playing big roles. Defensively, Piedmont returns a veteran group led by senior safety Brooks Gsell (75 tackles, also kick returner) and junior DT Ty Nicholas (49 tackles).

PORTER RIDGE

Head Coach: Michael Hertz (4th year as Porter Ridge head coach; 25-15 at Porter Ridge).

2018 Record: 10-5 (4-2 in the Southwestern 4A (SW4A)).

2019 Conference: Southwestern 4A (SW4A) conference/4A.

Returning Starters: 12 (10 offense; 2 defense).

Returning Letterman: 23

Key Returning Starters: Sean Simelane, Sr., LT (6-1, 220); Connor Henderson, Sr., LB (6-2, 215); Dylan Burdette, Sr., LB (5-11, 185); Davidson Carroll, Sr., DE (6-1, 180); Kirkland Harris, Sr., RB/LB (5-9, 185)); Alex Chapman, Sr., RB/S (6-1, 175); Malik Jordan, Jr., DT (6-0, 245).

Other Key Returnees: Mason Cox, Jr., QB (6-2, 200); Cris Caper, Sr., DE (6-5, 215).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Pirates have won 18 games in the last two years and held their own in one of the toughest conferences (SW4A) in the state. While Porter Ridge has some key positions to replace (former QB Grayson McCall/RB Jaylen Coleman), they have players capable of filling the void in junior QB Mason Cox and senior RBs Alex Chapman and Kirkland Harris. The Pirates’ defense is led by all-SW4A LB Dylan Burdette (94 tackles).

SUN VALLEY

Head Coach: Tad Baucom (6th year as Sun Valley head coach; 40-24 at Sun Valley).

2018 Record: 10-3 (5-2 in the Southern Carolinas’ Conference (SCC)).

2019 Conference: SCC/3AA.

Returning Starters: 6

Returning Letterman: 18

Key Returning Starters: Christian McIntosh, Sr., WR/DB (5-10, 185); Gavin Blackwell, Jr., WR (6-0, 170); Michael Gonzalez, Jr., OL (6-5, 270); Jacob Bowman, Jr., QB/K/P (6-0, 170); Aaron Brannock, Jr., LS/LB/OL (6-1, 210); Michael Wilson Jr., RB/DB (5-9, 170); Jimmy Kerley, Jr., OL (6-2, 260).

Key Newcomers: Carson Black, Fr., QB; Toney McFadden, Fr., RB; Mason Tinsley, So., TE/DE; Andrew Macchiavello, So., OL/LB.

Outlook: The Sam Howell era is over at Sun Valley. New quarterback Jacob Bowman will look to get the ball to RB Deuce Wilson (740 yards rushing last year), WRs Gavin Blackwell (51 catches for 1,136 yards and 19 touchdowns) and Christian McIntosh (37 catches for 501 yards). Sun Valley will also need a young defense to grow up quickly if they are going to stay in the middle of the pack in the SCC and return to the playoffs.

UNION ACADEMY

Head Coach: Justin Frashier (4th year at Union Academy; 17-16 at Union Academy).

2018 Record: 4-8 (3-6 in the South Piedmont 1A conference (SPC 1A)).

2019 Conference: SPC 1A.

Returning Starters: 7

Returning Letterman: 7

Key Returning Starters: Phifer Griffin, Sr., OL/DL (6-5, 295); Derek Young, Sr., WR/DB (6-3, 195); Josh Harris, Sr., QB (5-9, 155); Colson Honeycutt, Jr., LB (6-0, 185); Isaac King, Jr., RB/DB (5-10, 190); Hayden Bradley, Jr., FB/LB (6-1, 190); Gavin Melton, Jr., OL/DL (5-10, 270).

Key Newcomers: Connor Bradley, Fr., DE (6-1, 175).

Outlook: Union Academy slipped to 4-8 last season after going 8-5 in 2017. This year, only seven starters return. But the Cardinals will look to a strong senior class, including QB Josh Harris, WR Derek Young (68 catches for 987 yards and 12 touchdowns) and OL Phifer Griffin. Meanwhile, junior LBs Colson Honeycutt (89 tackles) and Hayden Bradley (58 tackles) headline the defense.

WEDDINGTON

Head Coach: Andy Capone (2nd year as Weddington football coach).

2018 Record: 15-1 (6-1 in the Southern Carolinas’ conference (SCC)).

2019 Conference: SCC/3AA.

Returning Starters: 13 (5 offense; 8 defense).

Returning Letterman: 25

Key Returning Starters: Will Shipley, Jr., RB (5-11, 205); Alec Mock, Sr., LB (6-3, 230); Trey Alsbrooks, Sr., OLB (6-2, 215); Ian Williams, Sr., K/P (6-3, 210); Lucas Rogers, Sr., OL (6-0, 230); Alex McLaughlin, Jr., OL (5-11, 235); Joe Zovistoski, Jr., DE/TE (6-0, 185);

Key Newcomers: Chase Turner, Sr., WR/LB (5-10, 180); Dusty Mercer, Sr., ATH (6-1, 205); Cole Wiseman, Jr., DE/FB (5-10, 195).

Outlook: Weddington coach, Andy Capone led his team to a 15-1 record and a 3AA state championship in his first season. What’s he do for an encore? With 13 starters back -- led by All-American RB Will Shipley (1,417 yards rushing, 19 touchdowns), a strong defense featuring LBs Alec Mock and Trey Alsbrooks and major special teams’ weapons in kicker/punter Ian Williams (19 field goals, 41 yards per punt) -- Weddington has all the pieces to battle Charlotte Catholic for an SCC title and make a run to second straight, 3AA state championship.

Union County Conference Predictions

NCISAA Piedmont Athletic Conference

  1. Metrolina Christian; 2. High Point Christian; 3. Cabarrus Warriors; 4. Covenant Day; 5. SouthLake Christian.

South Piedmont 1A Conference (SPC 1A)

  1. Thomas Jefferson Academy; 2. Mountain Island Charter; 3. Bessemer City; 4. Community School of Davidson; 5. Cherryville; 6. Pine Lake Prep; 7. Union Academy; 8. Highland Tech; 9. Christ the King.

Southern Carolinas’ Conference (SCC)

  1. Charlotte Catholic; 2. Weddington; 3. Marvin Ridge; 4. Monroe; 5. Sun Valley; 6. Piedmont; 7. Cuthbertson; 8. Parkwood.

Rocky River Conference

  1. Mount Pleasant; 2. Anson County; 3. Forest Hills; 4. West Stanly; 5. Montgomery Central.

--JAY EDWARDS

Source : https://www.charlotteobserver.com/site-services/newsletters/high-school-sports/article233944287.html

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