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Where’s The D? High School football teams seem to be playing very little defense

By Langston By Wertz Jr.

By my count, 55 N.C. high school football teams topped 40 points Friday night. There were 20 teams that scored more than 50 points, and in 11 games, two teams combined to score more than 70.

I remember a time when coaches would tell me that defense was always ahead of offense early in the season.

Friday night, Central Cabarrus beat Albemarle 68-34; Asheville Reynolds beat Shelby 49-42; Sun Valley beat Hoke County 40-35; Eastern Alamance beat Burlington Cummings 63-28; and Richmond Senior beat Myrtle Beach (SC) 64-30.

In Week 1, Butler scored 80 points. Friday, Swannanoa Owen beat Brevard 73-6.

So what has happened to the defense?

“It’s trickling down from the NFL,” Hough coach Bobby Collins said. “It’s a quarterback-driven league in the NFL. You’ve got some high school teams now – not Hough – that are only worried about scoring points on offense, and they figure they can just outscore teams.”

Collins figures the bombs-away approach may work in the regular season to some degree, but for the long haul, he still believes in what may be the oldest adage in football: defense wins championships.

Collins noted that 2012 N.C. 4AA champion Butler gave up less than seven points per game last season, and N.C. 4AA semifinalist Mallard Creek was just as strong.

Collins said he wants to mold his team after that model.

“Teams that just score lots of points aren’t winning championships,” Collins said. “But teams that (can stop the opposition) are winning championships. Those teams score a lot, too, but because their defense gives them the ball over and over. At Hough, we’ll run the football, and play great defense and special teams. That’s our formula.”

• Hough is 2-0 this season after Friday’s 45-14 win over rival Mooresville. Since a 2012 season-opening loss to Independence, Hough – now in its fourth season – is 10-1 in regular-season games. Up next is Lake Norman, which beat Hopewell 41-33.

Collins is especially concerned with Lake Norman QB Josh Ladowski, a North Carolina baseball recruit. Ladowski ran 28 times for 156 yards and a touchdown against Hopewell. He threw for 250 yards and five scores. His top receiver, Corey Joyner, had 11 catches for 165 yards and five touchdowns Friday. He had more than 200 yards receiving two weeks ago.

Collins knows his team, up to a school-best No. 7 in the Sweet 16, will have its defense tested Friday.

“I think we’ve got a really good secondary and our defensive line is playing really well right now,” Collins said. “And my kicker, Tim Gawert, is putting the ball in the end zone on kickoffs. That forces the offense to go 80 yards on our defense and it’s pretty hard to do that. But (Ladowski) gave us a lot of trouble last year and I think he’s an all-state caliber player. He can run and throw well. He’s an underrated player and a great athlete. We’ll try to play some man coverage and spy him all game long.”

• Two teams that are off to very hot starts are Independence and West Mecklenburg. The Patriots, No. 4 in the Sweet 16, have beaten South Mecklenburg 49-0 and North Meck 42-0. West Meck beat East Mecklenburg 69-0 and beat rival West Charlotte 61-6 Friday.

The teams are two weeks away from perhaps their biggest games of the year. This week, the Patriots play unbeaten Olympic at home and West Meck will be a big favorite against Garinger at home.

West Meck is scheduled to play at Independence Sept. 12 in a battle of two of the highest-scoring offenses in North Carolina as well as two of the top quarterbacks –Independence junior Kelvin Hopkins and West Meck’s Jalan McClendon, an N.C. State recruit.

• West Meck will play its final home game in its current stadium Friday against Garinger. Hawk athletics director John Yewcic said he got permission from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to host the game on campus even though the stadium is being renovated. West Meck is playing home games currently at Waddell.

Yewcic said West Meck would honor past school officials, booster club members and other key personnel who helped build the original stadium in the early 1970s. West Meck will debut its new stadium on campus in the 2014 season.

Wertz: 704-612-9716; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr; facebook.com/queencitypreps
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