In recent years, the Concord boys' basketball team has dominated not only the South Piedmont Conference, but also most of the rest of the state, averaging 27 wins per season and making three appearances in the state championship in the last five seasons.
This season, the Spiders are again the favorite to win the SPC and challenge for a state title, as eight of last year's top 10 scorers are back from a team that narrowly lost in the 3A state championship last year.
"We expect to win and have a chance to be one of the top teams in the state every year," said Concord basketball coach Scott Brewer. "It's tough being the hunted every year, but I think that it's a good problem to have."
One of the main obstacles for the Spiders in the SPC is Central Cabarrus, where Brewer last coached before Concord.
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But coach Brian King and the Vikings, who have made significant strides in the last two years, are hoping this is their year to win the conference and possibly make some noise in the playoffs.
To do that, they will have to go through Concord.
"We feel like we have a team that can challenge Concord for the conference title," said King, whose team won 19 games last season after winning only four in 2008-09. "But we will have to go out and prove it on the court."
While it's still early in the season, when the Vikings host the Spiders on Tuesday night, it should be one of the best games of the year in Cabarrus County.
Brewer and Concord will again play at their usual frenetic pace this season, and so far it looks like they have the perfect team to do it.
After losing their opener to always tough Mount Tabor, the Spiders have looked strong, handily beating defending 4A state champion Lake Norman and Hopewell.
The Spiders go 11-deep with a team led by a wealth of guards, including all-SPC shooting guard Jacquise Moore. Moore is not only their Spiders top offensive weapon, but also the front man in Concord's vaunted full-court press.
Moore has a lot of help, especially in the backcourt where guards Kendall Knorr, Darren Black, Patrick Jenkins, Will Vanderburg and Kriston Beasley allow the Spiders to go full throttle all game.
The only potential weakness for Concord might be inside, where Xavier Stywall is the only proven returning force.
The Vikings were one of the most improved teams in the state last year going from four wins in 2008-09 to 19 last season. But King and company want even more.
The dynamic L.C. Cooks and Aaron Johnson form one of the better backcourts in the state. Cooks is averaging 19 points per game already, running the show.
But Cooks and Johnson will need help, especially against the constant Concord pressure.
They could find it in DeyQuan Heath, the leading scorer on the JV team a year ago, who is developing nicely. Forward Xavier Deer will also have to step up and help convert easy chances to make Concord pay for their high pressure defense.
Central has a chance to grab a lot of momentum if they can hold serve at home against Concord. How well they handle the full-court pressure will determine if they have a chance to win.