The South Iredell football team has proved to be one of the most consistent winners in the state over the past three seasons under coach Scott Miller, winning 38 games in that time span.Last year, the Vikings went all the way, going 14-2 to win the 2AA state championship, to claim the school’s first football title.While Miller and his team have had a whole offseason to relish their championship, highlighted by the official ring ceremony on Valentine’s Day, the Vikings are eager to prove that they can be a contender again, even as they move up to class 3A.“We’re still hungry to prove ourselves every day, whether it’s in practice or in games,” said senior linebacker Garrett Barnett. “A lot of people say we just won it in 2AA, so we want to prove ourselves against 3A and 4A teams. We have a lot of guys who want to prove they can help this team get right back where we were last year.”Miller said his team is ready to move on.“Our kids understand that last year was last year,” he said. “This is a whole new team, a whole new dynamic. But I think these guys are anxious to prove they can be just as good. They know what it takes to win a championship.”The Vikings move to the North Piedmont 3A/4A conference, where will take on Iredell County teams, including Statesville, Lake Norman and Mooresville, as well as Alexander Central and North Lincoln.Miller has a lot of reasons to feel good about this season, returning 11 starters from the state championship team.Senior Alex Crosby (6-0, 185) will take over a spread offense that averaged 37 points per game, after starting at linebacker for most of last season.“Alex is going to be like a linebacker playing quarterback,” Miller said. “He is a hard-nosed kid that won’t be afraid to take a hit or give one. He runs well and throws well. He is going to be a great leader for us.”Crosby will have several strong options in the passing game as seniors Michael Fisher (55 catches for 777 yards and seven touchdowns) and Jaylon Stockton (40 catches for 529 yards and four TDs) are back.The running back spot will be done by committee as the Vikings adjust to losing LaChaston Smith (Virginia), Rasheed Degree and Eythan Kramm.No matter who has the ball, the offensive line will be of big help. The unit is led by sophomore center Alex Gourley, a 6-foot-1, 260-pounder who is already a major college target after starting as a freshman and attending multiple college camps this summer Miller notes Gourley already has the size and talent to be dominant.The South Iredell defense hopes to have an even bigger impact on the Vikings’ success after allowing only 13 points, and recording shutouts last season.Back to lead the way up front are a pair of defensive ends in seniors Jon Jon King, who had 88 tackles last year, and Tay Smith, who had four sacks.The linebacking corps also looks good with Barnett (89 tackles last year) and senior Briggs Lunsford (94 tackles) back in the fold.“We have a lot of guys who got a lot of playing time, but not as much recognition as others,” Barnett said. “I think those guys are eager to prove they can be stars for this team.”The secondary should be in good shape with Fisher, who was the state championship game’s most valuable defensive player in December, back after picking off seven passes and making 59 tackles in 2012. Stockton will also play in the secondary.South Iredell established itself as perennial conference and state contender in 2A. The Vikings hope they can continue that in the NPC and 3A.But Miller, whose team has had at least a share of its last three conference titles, knows there’s a lot of work left to do.“Every year is like a big puzzle and you dump the pieces out on a table and put them where they fit,” said Miller. “We’ve have very unselfish kids who will do whatever we ask and play wherever we need them. That team approach has been the secret to our success.”
Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013
South Iredell looks to build off last year’s state title
South Iredell Coach: Scott Miller (Fourth season). 2012 record: 14-2. Starters returning: 11. Key players: • WR/DB Michael Fisher, 5-9, 165, Sr.: 2AA state championship game defensive MVP, who also had 777 yards receiving last year, will be expected to do more of the same this season. • C Alex Gourley, South Iredell, 6-1, 260, So.: Lineman is already getting major college interest as a sophomore. Can’t-miss games: Lake Norman, Oct. 11; at Mooresville, Nov. 1; Statesville, Nov. 8.
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at email@example.com.
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