WEDDINGTON – You could pick any of the hundreds of choices for exemplary adjectives and each and every one could be used to describe the way Weddington thoroughly demolished rival Charlotte Catholic in a 45-0 win on Oct. 4.
The win not only ended the Cougars’ decade-long streak of not losing a conference game, but the ease with which it was done should make a statement that this Warrior team may be better and more complete than the one that ran the table through the playoffs to win the 3-AA championship last year.
And they have the numbers to back it up.
Coach Andy Capone said the Warriors, who had lost to Catholic all six previous meetings including 42-7 in 2017 and 20-0 last season, began thinking about this game months ago.
Part of the reason for the Cougars’ success has been the Wing-T, a complex running offense of misdirection with multiple running backs in the game at once.
It’s tough to prepare for, but nobody has done it as well as Weddington.
“It was a lot of work,” Capone said. “We spent time this summer going over what they do because we needed to and we did a lot of film work. The kids were really zoned in mentally for this game and physically they’re in a good spot. It’s a lot of work to get ready for them and that’s why they’ve been so successful. I’m glad the way the kids came out and rose to the challenge. This is a special group. We’re hard on them, but all we ask is for them to give us 48 minutes of effort out here and they definitely rose to the challenge. I couldn’t be happier for them for this week’s performance.”
The defense was everywhere in the shutout.
Stars Alec Mock (eight tackles and a recovered fumble) and Trey Alsbrooks (seven tackles and a sack) cleaned up as usual, but this team is full of playmakers.
Malik Mustapha, an Ardrey Kell transfer, continued his strong play with one of two Warrior interceptions and seven tackles, including three for loss.
Mustapha said this is a game he had circled on his calendar since his days as a Knight and one that he was happy he could make an impact in.
“This was a great team win,” he said. “We don’t play as individuals, we play as one. We told each other before the game we were going to go into this one and dominate. For me, knowing when I was at AK I never beat them and they haven’t beaten them here, I knew we had a point to make and we came together as one, followed our Warrior code, played our hearts out and had a tremendous game.”
Colby Barsz (six tackles), Jalen Newman (five tackles and a pick-6 interception), Joe Zovistoski (seven tackles and two quarterback hurries), Cole Weisman (five tackles and a sack) and Noah Neidmeyer (six tackles and a fumble recovery) all had standout defensive games to Mustapha’s point.
The collective team effort is how the Warriors have gotten by this season, and it’s paying off in a big way.
The Warriors are allowing just 6.67 points per game, which is nearly a touchdown less than the previous school record.
Although it will likely inflate as the conference season wears on and into the playoffs, it’s impressive nonetheless.
“We’re a team to look out for,” Mustapha said. “We were the underdogs. They were ranked higher than us, people didn’t give us a chance but all we need is each other. We believed we could and our defense helped us do it. We don’t need anyone hopping on the bandwagon or anything. We have each other and that’s all we need.”
While the defense was sensational against Catholic and has been great all season, the offense is no slouch either.
Catholic doesn’t allow teams to score 45 points on it very often, but that’s actually just a tick over the Warriors’ 40.0 point-per-game average, which is also a school record and over two points better than last season.
It obviously starts with Will Shipley, the all-American running back who holds scholarship offers from nearly every major power.
He’s already over 700 total yards and 12 touchdowns and is averaging over nine yards every time he touches the ball.
But he’s far from alone.
The Warriors have shuffled between Dante Casciola, who has thrown for over 500 yards, and Dusty Mercer, who offers more of a running threat. Sometimes Shipley takes the direct snap, but whoever is under center has been effective.
Kyle Parsons, Landyn Backey, Barsz and Mercer have all had their hand in the offensive side of the ball.
While the Warriors are 6-0 and clearly the toast of the county, there are still five regular season games and the grind of the playoffs.
As Capone walked off the field after the biggest regular season win of his life, he was happy.
But not satisfied.
“People will look it the (Catholic game) and see the score, but to us, I think we had confidence that we could come in and win this game,” he said. “That’s where we’re at, but we have to keep getting better. This is a tough conference and it’s a tough 3A, so we have to come back Monday and get ready for Piedmont. We have to be zoned in on them and we’re taking it each week.”