The landscape of Union County football changed dramatically this offseason, as five of the area’s 12 head-coaching positions were filled by new faces.
Tad Baucom (Sun Valley), Zach Bevilacqua (Porter Ridge), Robert Forshee (Union Academy), Brad Hoover (Marvin Ridge) and Scott Smith (Central Academy) are all in their first year with their respective programs, and each hopes to re-energize their teams.
Some things haven’t changed, however: 10-year veteran Monroe coach Johnny Sowell is coming off Monroe’s first trip to a state-championship game in 24 years.
With 12 starters returning, Monroe will be favored to win the Rocky River Conference again. With 29-year veteran coach John Lowery, Forest Hills will also be vying for that conference title.
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Parkwood would love to continue its postseason run from last season, where the team won three straight road-playoff games against Franklin, Forest Hills and Hunter Huss before falling in the 2AA state semifinals to Monroe.
Weddington and Sun Valley shared the Southern Carolinas’ Conference title last season but will challenged by a deep conference in which Cuthbertson, Marvin Ridge and Piedmont have shown promise.
Porter Ridge moved to the Southwestern 4A conference last year and was one of four teams – with Butler, Independence and Rocky River – that had a chance to win the league title in the final week of the regular season. While the Pirates didn’t win, they did go to toe-to-toe with some of the state’s most successful programs.