by Aaron Garcia
Of the nine Union County football teams that qualified for the state playoffs, six are still in action after Week 1. This week offers another exciting slate of games. Here’s a breakdown of the Friday, Nov. 19, matchups:
Class 4A West
Sun Valley (10-2)
at Asheville Reynolds (11-1)
Sun Valley coach Scott Stein must’ve envisioned a matchup like this when putting together his 2010 schedule. This season, the Spartans traversed the state, playing in Wilmington, Bessemer City and Asheville before conference play started, so the Spartans are road-tested. The Rockets, though, are 7-0 at home this year and 93-34 all time at R.L. Dalton Stadium.
The reigning Class 4A state champs are led by quarterback Caleb Pressley, who’s thrown for 2,045 yards and 23 touchdowns. Running back A.J. Marion is also a threat (1,563 yards, 21 touchdowns). The Spartans are led by quarterback Ryan Smith, running back Jadarrius Williams and receivers Jody Fuller, Steven Cole and Chris Duffie.
West Charlotte (8-4)
at Porter Ridge (11-1)
It’s not like Porter Ridge really has anything left to prove, but beating a traditional power like West Charlotte would certainly enhance the Pirates’ profile.
The Lions beat Alexander Central last week, paced by dynamic running back Scoot Simmons, a Duke recruit. West Charlotte uses a single-back, three wide Spread attack similar to that of Sun Valley and Marvin Ridge, so it won’t be new to the Pirates. The defense, anchored by another Duke signee – Britton Grier – is where West Charlotte is the most dangerous. But the spectre of the unknown vanished when the Pirates won their first playoff game last week, so don’t expect the home team to be very wide-eyed when West Charlotte’s bus pulls up to the Pirate Ship.
Class 3AA Midwest
at Charlotte Catholic (12-0)
The Warriors earned their first playoff win in school history last week when they downed rival Marvin Ridge, 28-14. This week, they’re faced with one of the state’s top teams in Chrlotte Catholic. The Cougars employ a throwback, Wing-T offense which chews up nearly 323 yards per game at an 8.3 yards-per-carry clip. But Weddington coach Justin Hardin has seen it before. He was 2-0 against Catholic as an assistant at Charlotte Latin.
Class 2AA Midwest
Charlotte Berry (10-2)
at Piedmont (11-1)
These conference rivals meet for the second time in three weeks, and it’s a shame one of these Rocky River 1A/2A teams will be eliminated. On Nov. 4, Piedmont held Berry to its lowest point total of the season in the Panthers’ 28-14 win, but Piedmont was aided by sloppy conditions which nullified much of Berry’s athleticism. Forecasts for Friday look clear, so the Panthers should see a better Berry this time around. Rain or shine, though, the Panthers’ rushing attack is built for this time of year and should limit Berry’s offensive opportunities.
Forest Hills (8-4)
at Salisbury (9-3)
In a week full of exciting games, this might be the most even matchup. The Yellow Jackets might be the hottest team in the county after winning six consecutive games, including last week’s 31-30 nailbiter against South Iredell. Running back Jamal Little scored three times, while quarterback Jared Lee chipped in three of his own. But Salisbury will move the ball, too, and mostly on the ground. In last week’s 56-21 win over North Surry, the Hornets racked up 415 rushing yards, including 130 from quarterback John Knox.
Class 1AA Midwest
West Montgomery (7-5)
at Monroe (8-4)
Well, we all knew this was bound to happen, didn’t we? Last season, the Warriors upset the Redhawks in the second round, giving Monroe its first loss of the season and squashing its title hopes. While Monroe coach Johnny Sowell hasn’t harped on the loss this season, the Redhawks undoubtedly would like to prove that last year was a fluke. But it won’t be easy. West Montgomery is rolling after winning five of its last six games, sparked by a game-changing defense. In last week’s 14-0 win over North Rowan, the Warriors forced seven turnovers and cycled in nine different defensive linemen. But will it be enough to stop Monroe’s explosive (35 points per game), payback-minded offense?