3 Bold Predictions
North Iredell will end the streak: The team was 0-11 last season and has lost 25 straight games. There are eight starters back, 25 lettermen and plenty of hope. The challenge is to improve on an offense that averaged 9.3 points per game.
Pine Lake Prep will rebound: After a 10-2 season in 2015, the team fell to 8-15 in the past two seasons. This year, 16 starters are back, including junior LB/RB Kris Petroski (894 yards, 9 TDs).
South Iredell will be OK without star QB: All-state QB Brady Pope graduated, and only nine starters return, but there are plenty of lettermen back for a team that’s won 31 games the past three seasons. The Vikings have a veteran offensive line led by senior lineman Jack Cutler (6-5, 285) and senior linebackers Derrek Dulin (6-0, 225) and Caleb McCubbin (5-9, 185).
Players To Watch
Holden Henderson, Statesville Christian, QB, 6-3, 180, Jr.: Henderson is a part of a team that has won 21 games in two seasons, including the NCISAA Division III state title in 2016.
Caylon Imes, Statesville, RB, 5-10, 175, Jr.: Imes ran for 1,002 yards and 10 touchdowns and will be one of the leaders of a league title contender. On defense, senior cornerback back Ticara Clark and senior linebacker Kobe Turner lead the group.
Damarcus Mills, Mooresville, OL, 6-7, 320, Sr.: Major Division I recruit will try to help his team improve on a 4-8 record as it joins the powerhouse I-MECK 4A conference.
Statesville at Lake Norman, Aug. 24: Big intra-county rivalry early in the season should draw a big crowd.
Hough at Lake Norman, Oct. 5: These schools are not in the same county but close enough that a big rivalry is forming. The players are familiar with each other.
South Iredell at Statesville, Oct. 5: Both teams figure to be in the North Piedmont 3A championship race (along with West Rowan). Expect a big turnout for this one.
Iredell County Team Capsules
Coach: Jonathan Oliphant (1st year as team’s head coach).
2017 record: 2-9 (1-6 in the I-Meck 4A conference).
2018 conference: I-Meck 4A
Returning starters: 7
Returning letterman: 25
Key returning starters: Steven Testa, Sr., WR (6-1, 175); Austin Swink, Sr., OL (6-4, 250); Will Sauder, So., S (6-1, 180); Matt Eakins, Sr., LB (6-3. 190).
Key newcomers: Cullen Smith, Jr., WR (6-2, 175); Jonathan Fogle, Sr., LB (5-10, 195); Joseph Young, Jr., LB (5-11, 200) (Central Cabarrus transfer).
Outlook: After winning 33 games the previous four years combined, Lake Norman struggled in its first year back in the I-Meck 4A conference last season, when it went 2-9 and 1-6 in league play. Mooresville returns seven for first-year coach in longtime Mooresville assistant Jonathan Oliphant.
Coach: Thad Wells (1st year as Mooresville’s coach, 33-17 overall as head coach).
2017 record: 4-8 (2-5 in the I-Meck 4A conference).
2018 conference: I-Meck 4A
Returning starters: 9
Returning letterman: 80
Key returning starters: Damarcus Mills, Sr., OL/DL (6-7, 320); Ike Byers, Sr., RB/DB (5-8, 160); Sean Hill, Sr., DB/WR (6-2, 190); Reggie Spratland, Sr., OL/DL (6-2, 250); Todd Norman, Sr., OL/DL (6-1, 240).
Key returnees: Keyshawn Black, Jr., WR/DB (5-10, 150); Malik Burchett, Jr., DB/WR (6-2, 190); Hunter Debardino, Jr., QB (6-0, 180).
Outlook: Former Blacksburg High (Va.) coach Thad Wells will try to get Mooresville back on track after a 4-8 record in its first year back in the I-Meck 4A last season. A Blue Devils offense that averaged only 14 points returns an experienced offensive line, led by 6-foot-7, 320-pound Damarcus Mills, a major Division I prospect, along with Todd Norman and Reggie Spratland.
Coach: David Lewis (3rd year as North Iredell head coach; 0-22 at North Iredell).
2017 record: 0-11 (0-5 in the North Piedmont conference).
2018 conference: North Piedmont 3A.
Returning starters: 8
Returning letterman: 15
Key returning starters: Riley Williams, Sr., OL (6-4, 265); Tyrus Turner, Sr., LB (6-0, 190); Donya Stevenson, Sr., RB/LB (5-9, 200); Hunter Bolden, Sr., WR/DB (6-0, 180); Charles Starnes, Sr., OL/DL (6-2, 220).
Key newcomers: Antonio Allison, Sr., RB/WR/DB (5-8, 165); Ethan Moreau, Jr., DL (5-10, 285); Cody Nicholson, Jr., WR/DB (5-11, 160).
Outlook: North Iredell has lost 25 straight, including back-to-back 0-11 seasons. But Coach David Lewis and his team have reasons to believe they can turn things around this season with a strong senior class led by Donya Stevenson, Tyrus Turner and Riley Williams. North Iredell must score more (averaged 9.3 points per game last year) if they want to get program going back in the right direction.
PINE LAKE PREP
Coach: Brett Hayford (5th year as Pine Lake Prep head coach; 26-21 at Pine Lake Prep).
2017 record: 3-8 (2-5 in the Piedmont Athletic 7 1A).
2018 conference: PAC 7 1A.
Returning starters: 16
Returning letterman: 27
Key returning starters: Kris Petroski, Jr., LB/RB (5-9, 175); Jack Long, Sr., RB/LB; Zach Morlidge, Jr., LB (6-0, 190); Sam Cornaccione, So., TE/DB (6-2, 180); Drew Fellows, Jr., OL/DL (6-0, 195).
Key newcomers: N/A.
Outlook: After going 10-2 in 2015, Pine Lake Prep is 8-15 since, including a 3-8 record last season. This season, the Pride returns 16 starters, led by junior Kris Petroski (894 yards, nine touchdowns rushing last year) on offense and linebackers Jack Long (88 tackles last year) and Zach Morlidge (112 tackles) on defense. Pine Lake Prep’s combination of experience and talent should allow the team to move back into the upper half of the PAC 7 1A standings and into the playofs.
Coach: Scott Miller (9th year as South Iredell head coach; 84-24 at South Iredell).
2017 record: 11-3 (5-0 to win the North Piedmont 3A title).
2018 conference: NPC 3A.
Returning starters: 9 (5 offense; 4 defense).
Returning letterman: 25
Key returning starters: Jack Cutler, Sr., OL (6-5, 285); Ty Everheart, Sr., WR (6-4, 190); Sam Buff, Jr., OL (6-1, 275); Holland Dowdy, Sr., WR (5-10, 165); Derrek Dulin, Sr., LB/DE (6-0, 225); Jermie Greene, Sr. OLB (5-11, 210); Will Gordon, Jr., ATH (5-8, 170); Caleb McCubbin, Sr., LB (5-9, 185); Darius Smyre, Jr., LB/WR (5-9, 155); Matthew Campbell, Sr., OL (6-0, 290).
Key newcomers: Alterek Adams, Jr., RB (5-10, 190); Devin Lackey, Sr., RB (5-11, 205); Juan Gomez, Jr., OL (5-9, 235).
Outlook: South Iredell has 31 wins in the past three seasons, including an 11-3 record with a NPC title last year. The Vikings will have to reload with the loss of all-state quarterback Brady Pope, now a college freshman at Charlotte. South Iredell will look to a veteran offensive line led by senior Jack Cutler and playmaking wideouts Ty Everheart (10 touchdowns receiving last year) and Holland Dowdy. The Vikings’ defense should be strong with senior linebackers Derrek Dulin and Caleb McCubbin leading the unit.
Coach: Randall Gusler (12 years as Statesville head coach; 90-63 at Statesville, 23 years overall).
2017 record: 9-3 (4-1 in the North Piedmont conference).
2018 conference: North Piedmont 3A.
Returning starters: 12 (7 offense; 5 defense).
Returning letterman: N/A.
Key returning starters: Jabril Williams, Sr., OL (6-2, 300); Seth Williams, Jr., OL (6-4, 290); Trae Gaither, Jr., OL (5-11, 300); Joriah Graham, Sr., OL/DL (6-0, 270); Kywaun Dukes, Sr., WR (5-10, 175); Dorreco Davis, Sr., RB (5-8, 180); Caylon Imes, Jr., RB (5-10, 175); Kobe Turner, Sr., LB (5-10, 220); J’quan Harris, Sr., DB (5-9, 170); Tynan Tucker, Jr., LB (5-10, 180); Ticara Clark, Sr., DB (6-0, 250); Justin Bailey, Sr., DL (6-0, 255).
Key newcomers: Nebanye Moore, So., QB (6-3, 190); Chavion Smith, So., RB (5-8, 180); Chris Brown, So., WR (6-1, 165); Josiah Gathings, So., WR (6-1) ; Jason Shuford, Jr., DL (6-4, 260).
Outlook: After winning nine games and finishing second in the North Piedmont conference (NPC), the 2017 season ended with a 48-0 loss to Southwest Guilford in the first round of the 3AA playoffs. With 12 starters back, Gusler’s team should have motivation going into 2018. Statesville has playmakers, too. On offense: Dorreco Davis (609 yards rushing last year) and Caylon Imes (1,002 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns last year). On defense: Ticara Clark (77 tackles, five sacks last year) and Kobe Turner (94 tackles, 26 tackles-for-loss last year).
Coach: Todd Fox (1st year as Statesville Christian head coach).
2017 record: 9-2 (4-1 in the NCISAA PAC 6 conference).
2018 conference: Independent/NCISAA 2A.
Returning starters: 4
Returning letterman: 5
Key returning starters/returnees: Holden Henderson, Jr., QB/FS (6-3, 180); Leon Childers, Sr., OL/DE (6-2, 205); Dylan Sutton, Sr., K/WR (6-0, 205); Sam Thomas, Jr., OL/DL (5-10, FILL); Jamie Menis, So., OL/DL (5-10, FILL); Joey Spry, Jr., WR/DB (5-10, 170); Adam Godwin, Fr., RB/DB (6-0, 165); Jack Henderson, Fr., RB/DB (5-11, 170).
Key newcomers: Daymon Shepherd, Fr., FB/LB (5-11, 205); Johnny Bayne, Sr., OL/LB (6-3, 210); Casey Mangum, Jr., OL/DL (6-1, 215); Greg Simonson, Jr., QB/LB (6-1, 185); Will Barron, Jr., OL/DL (5-9, 170).
Outlook: Statesville Christian has won 21 games in the past two seasons, including the NCISAA Division III state title in 2016. This season, new coach Todd Fox must replace nearly the whole starting lineup. The Lions return four starters. Statesville Christian will look to seniors Leon Childers, Dylan Sutton and Holden Henderson to play bigger roles on an extremely young team.
Coach: Monte Simmons (4th year as West Iredell head coach).
2017 record: 5-7 (3-3 in the Northwest Foothills’ 2A conference).
2018 conference: Northwest Foothills’ 2A conference.
Returning starters: 14
Returning letterman: 28
Key returning starters: Say’Qwon Miller, Jr., S (6-2, 190); Shidarius McHenery, Sr., WR (6-1, 180); Ryan Tenor, Sr., WR/DB (5-10, 185); Chandon Smith, Sr., WR/DB (5-10, 165); Colby McHaurge, Jr., LB/HB (5-10, 225).
Key returnees: Myles Jackson, Jr., RB/LB (5-8, 180); Shawn Pearson, Jr., TE (6-2, 185).
Key newcomer: Eli Kitchens, Jr., QB (6-1, 170).
Outlook: After posting just eight wins in the previous three seasons, West Iredell took a big step forward going 5-7 last year. This season, the Warriors return 14 starters and hope to continue their improvement. West Iredell will need two-way athletes Chandon Smith, Ryan Tenor and Say’Qwon Miller to make big plays to make a move in the conference standings and into the postseason.