1. Charlotte Catholic (5-1)
Previous Ranking: No. 2
This week: Sun Valley (5-1)
The Cougars owned the Southern Carolinas Conference last season and they made a strong statement on Sept. 28 with a 20-0 shutout of previously unbeaten Weddington a week after escaping upstart Monroe. Nick King and Kevin Coss wreaked havoc on the Warrior offense, shutting Weddington out for the first time since 2013. This week they have Sun Valley and all-American quarterback Sam Howell to contend with, but a win pushes Catholic one step closer to a repeat title.
2. Weddington (5-1)
Previous Ranking: No. 1
This week: Piedmont (2-4)
The Warriors couldn’t get going offensively and were under constant siege from a relentless Charlotte Catholic pass rush last week. The shutout was the first for a Weddington team since they lost 7-0 to AL Brown in September of 2013. However, that team went on to win nine of 10 before falling in the third round of the playoffs. The Warriors will look to get back on track this week against a Panther team that allows an average of 30 points per game and has lost two straight conference games by a combined score of 80-12
3. Sun Valley (5-1)
Previous Ranking: No. 3
This week: Charlotte Catholic (5-1)
Sam Howell threw for 400 yards and six touchdowns as he and his Spartan teammates rolled Parkwood 53-7 in a get right game after losing to Weddington. Sophomore receiver Gavin Blackwell caught three touchdown passes and has been Howell’s top target all season. Jack Wilton and the Spartan D limited the Rebels to just one score. I think the Spartan defense is really good and capable of standing up to Catholic, but the offense will be tested. These two played to a 27-13 Catholic win last year, but I expect it to be closer this time around.
4. Metrolina Christian (4-2)
Previous Ranking: No. 6
This Week: Asheville School (5-1)
Jack Crump ran for 159 yards and a touchdown and Jadus Davis caught two passes, both of which went for touchdowns as Metrolina routed Northside Christian 42-6. The Warriors will have their hands full this week, however. The 5-1 Blues allow about 12 points per game to opposing offenses. On offense, they get 243 rushing yards per game with dual threat quarterback Christopher Hemphill leading the charge. SouthLake Christian is a common opponent this season with Asheville beating SouthLake 34-12 and Metrolina winning 33-8 earlier this season, so it appears to be two similar teams.
5. Monroe (4-2)
Previous Ranking: No. 7
This Week: at Cuthbertson (2-4)
Monroe played Catholic tight the week before, but in beating Marvin Ridge 28-22 the Redhawks officially announced to the world that they are back after a down season. Shaleak Knotts may just be a freshman, but after hauling in both of Trey Shepherd’s touchdown passes on 186 receiving yards he’s coming up big on a weekly basis now. JahTwan Stafford rounds them out on offense, and the defense was big when it mattered as Christian Colon led the way with 16 tackles. Cuthbertson started out 0-4, but has won two straight behind quarterback Davis Walker. However, Monroe wants revenge for last year’s 34-27 Cavs win.
6. Marvin Ridge (4-2)
Previous Ranking: No. 4
This Week: Parkwood (1-5)
The Mavs are using quarterbacks Jake Cameron (7-12, 115 yards) and Matthew Wunder (14-18, 156) in tandem, and they played well as they combined to hit six different receivers. They ran the ball well (5.0 yards per carry), but suffered their second loss in three games at the hands of Monroe. I think the QB change often leads to continuity problems, and especially in late-game situations, but both are playing well. The Rebels should give the Mavs a chance to rebound.
7. Porter Ridge (3-3)
Previous Ranking: No. 5
This Week: at Independence (4-2)
The Pirates have now lost three of their past four games. This week, they spotted Butler a 28-7 lead, but came all of the way back only to give up the game-winning touchdown late in a 34-28 loss. Jaylen Coleman ran for 185 yards and the Pirates averaged nine yards per run, but got too one dimensional with only three pass completions on the night. Independence is 4-2, but that may be deceiving as the Patriots have feasted on bottom feeders Hopewell, Olympic, East Meck and Garinger so far, but a Porter Ridge loss could be catastrophic.
Also receiving votes: Union Academy (3-3)
– Andrew Stark