For the past four seasons, all eight Cabarrus County public high schools battled annually for South Piedmont Conference bragging rights on the gridiron.But as realignment takes effect this season, things are changing.Central Cabarrus, Concord, Cox Mill, Hickory Ridge and Northwest Cabarrus remain in the SPC, but Jesse Carson, East Rowan, South Rowan and West Rowan high schools form the rest of the leagues new version.While it will different without A.L. Brown (now in the MECKA 4A), Jay M. Robinson (MECKA 4A) and Mount Pleasant (Rocky River 2A), the SPC should be just a competitive and just as good.When you look at our league from top to bottom, its probably as talented and deep as any in the state, Concord football coach Glen Padgett said. I think five or six teams have a shot to win it this year. I think that will make it very exciting and a great challenge from the start.ConcordConcord was the most accomplished team in the 2012 postseason. The Spiders went all the way to the 3A state championship game, beating West and East Rowan along the way before falling to Havelock, 55-21, in the finals.While the Spiders will have to reload with only five starters back, they have some big pieces to build on with junior tailback Rocky Reid and senior linebackers Jerry Burk and Logan Sedergren.Hickory RidgeHickory Ridge stole the show in the regular season, going a perfect 7-0 to become the first team other than Brown or Concord to win the SPC title since 1987.The Ragin Bulls (11-2 overall last year) will be looking to prove they can contend in the SPC and beyond again. But theyll have to do so with just eight starters back, led by all-purpose threat Nate Mullen, a senior.Mullen who will play at wide receiver, cornerback and at both kick and punt returner should have a big impact on the game all over the field. Teammates such as senior quarterback Justin Wallace and tackle Almond Young look to emerge as stars.You hope what we accomplished last year is contagious, Hickory Ridge football coach Marty Paxton said. I think every kid in our program understands what we did and wants to do it again.West RowanWest Rowan, who won three state titles 2008-10, had its worst season in nearly a decade last year and still finished 10-3 overall.But no one is feeling sorry for Coach Scott Young and the Falcons with players like senior tailback Daisean Reddick and senior safety Najee Tucker back.In this conference, you are going to have to bring your A game every Friday night, Young said. We not only hope to compete for the conference title, but also get back and contend for a state championship.East RowanEast Rowan (8-5) finished second in the North Piedmont last year, beating West Rowan 13-7 and getting all the way to the 3A state quarterfinals before falling just short in a 21-20 overtime thriller to Concord.The Mustangs return quarterback Sam Wyrick and tailback Calvin Edwards, who could lead them into contention for the SPC title in their first year in the league.Central CabarrusCentral Cabarrus has the chance to make the biggest jump, according to multiple SPC coaches, as coach Donnie Kiefer and his team have made huge strides in his first season, turning a two-win team into a seven-win squad.The Vikings will look to their high-powered offense with senior quarterback Hasaan Klugh and tailback Kenny Purvis.The restCox Mill (7-4) ushers in the new SPC with a brand new coach: former Hickory Ridge offensive coordinator Craig Stewart moved over to replace Greg Neuendorf, now at Porter Ridge, this summer.Carson (4-7 last year) also has a new head coach, as Salisbury Highs Joel Pinyan takes over a squad that looks to climb the league standings.Northwest Cabarrus (3-7) and South Rowan (2-8) both struggled last year, and that wont get any easier in the new-look league.
Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2013
NCHSAA football: New-look S. Piedmont Conference should make interesting league race
Central Cabarrus, Concord, Cox Mill, Hickory Ridge and Northwest Cabarrus remain in the SPC, but Jesse Carson, East Rowan, South Rowan and West Rowan high schools form the rest of the leagues new version.
South Piedmont Conference Member schools: Jesse Carson*, Central Cabarrus, Concord, Cox Mill, East Rowan*, Hickory Ridge, Northwest Cabarrus, South Rowan*, West Rowan* (* indicates a new member). Players to Watch • RB Rocky Reid, Concord, junior: Rushed for 1,590 yards and 14 touchdowns. • LB Jerry Burk, Concord senior: SPC defensive player of the year and 116 tackles. • WR/DB/KR/PR Nate Mullen, Hickory Ridge, junior: All-purpose Bulls’ star will be big at receiver and cornerback and in the return game; already has an offer from UNCC. RB Daisean Reddick, West Rowan, senior: Another talented back in a long line of West Rowan greats looks to build on his 1,100-yard junior season. • QB Sam Wyrick, East Rowan, junior: Passed for nearly 1,500 yards, 16 touchdowns as a sophomore; now looking for more. • RB Calvin Edwards, East Rowan, senior: Helps drives Mustangs’ offense with 1,500 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns last season. • QB Hasaan Klugh, Central Cabarrus, senior: Multitalented athlete passed for more than 1,800 yards, 22 TDs last year. • RB Kenny Purvis, Central Cabarrus, senior: Another big piece of the Vikings puzzle after breakout 1,687 yards rushing last year. • OL Ryan Matson, Cox Mill, junior: 6-foot-7, 300-pound masher is getting interest from Charlotte, Clemson, Duke, North Carolina and Virginia, according to Rivals.com. Must see games Concord at A.L. Brown, Aug. 23 – the season opener. Concord at Hickory Ridge, Sept. 13 – Reigning champion Bulls take on 3A state runner-up Spiders. Hickory Ridge at Central Cabarrus, Sept. 27 – Upstart Vikings host Hickory Ridge in a game that could boost the winner to the top of the league. West Rowan at East Rowan, Oct. 18 – Battle for Rowan County bragging rights will likely have SPC title implications. Concord at West Rowan, Oct. 25 – Spiders-Falcons matchup also has the potential to decide conference title.
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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