Lake Norman & Mooresville

Game of the week: East Lincoln at SouthLake

Only six miles separate East Lincoln High and SouthLake Christian along N.C. 73 on opposite sides of the Catawba River.

But until last season, the two school's football teams had never played each other.

Friday, the two teams revisit what could grow to become a rivalry, as East Lincoln looks to win for the second time, after last year's 56-6 win, while SouthLake Christian looks to avenge that loss.

The Mustangs, who have won 53 games in the past five seasons, have struggled out of the gates this season, losing their first two games to 2A power Newton-Conover and Oak Ridge Military Academy.

Meanwhile, the Eagles appear to be vastly improved, as they already had more wins - three - than they did all last year when they went 2-8.

"The East Lincoln game is a big deal for us," said SouthLake Christian football coach Rich Landis. "We know they are bigger and a more established program, but we think we can be a lot more competitive this year."

East Lincoln coach Mike Byus is equally excited to play against the Eagles

"It never hurts to have another rival," he said.

"I think our fans have enjoyed the rivalries we've played with East Gaston, Bandys and of course all of the Lincoln County and conference games. (SouthLake) has a chance to be another great game on our schedule."

East Lincoln (2-2)

After struggling early, East Lincoln got back in their usual form, beating East Gaston 30-10 two weeks ago.

The Mustangs did it on the ground, rolling up 435 rushing yards.

East Lincoln kept that up, defeating Bandys 33-7 last week They'll hope to keep that momentum going against the Eagles Friday.

Junior quarterback Patrick Rendleman has all the skills to beat teams with his arm and his legs. Rendleman already has two 150-yard-plus performances on the ground. Junior Marcus "Bubba" McDowell also broke out against East Gaston, exploding for 234 yards rushing.

The Mustangs might rely on their running game, but Byus and company hope to be more balance. Wideout Devin Easter should be East Lincoln's primary target in the air.

Senior offensive lineman Dylan Stortz is huge upfront, and will need to help the Mustangs control the line of scrimmage against a much smaller SouthLake Christian team.

The Mustangs are gaining confidence and experience with every week, which is bad news for the Eagles. If East Lincoln gets their running game going early, with Rendleman and McDowell clicking, it could be a long night for SouthLake Christian.

SouthLake Christian (4-1)

After winning only two games last season, the Eagles have looked like a new team this year.

The offense has been led by quarterback Sam Remick, who became the team's play caller after playing tailback last year.

He has been operating at a high level this season. He led the Eagles to a 25-0 shoutout of Hickory Grove Friday. Remick is a threat to run or pass on every down. When he isn't running, he has junior tailback Ashton Stroud to lead the ground attack.

When Remick passes, senior Travis Hallman is his all-state level target. The 6-foot-2, 200 pounder can give any secondary matchup problems.

The Eagles will be hard pressed to challenge East Lincoln, who has much more depth than the small Huntersville school.

If SouthLake can contain the Mustangs' rushing attack early on, they might have a chance to stick around and make the game competitive.

The longer this game stays close, the more the Eagles and their home crowd will believe they can win, and the pressure will mount on a rebuilding East Lincoln team.