Lake Norman & Mooresville

Former Lions fitting in, contributing for Vikings

With Hough High's opening, many former North Mecklenburg football players, including most of the Vikings' JV team, moved to the new school.

With realignment, a young North Meck squad gained a handful of players who had played for conference foes West Charlotte last season.

Coach Mike Bradley is glad his Vikings have them.

"They've played key roles for us this season," said Bradley. "I don't think we would be as successful as we are without them."

Junior wide receiver Terrence Clyburn, who is second in the team in receiving yards, along with safety Darnell Foster, who is one of the Vikings' top tacklers, have made big contributions for the Vikings.

Other former Lions on the squad are Sheldon Kinard, Jonny Harrison and Christopher Dickerson, who has split time between the North Meck varsity and JV teams.

"They're great players, but better than that they're great kids and they've been a good fit for our team.," said Bradley.

"There's a stereotype that all these kids from West Charlotte are thugs and gang bangers and all that kind of stuff, but nothing could further from the truth for these kids."

Harrison said the team atmosphere has been better at North Meck.

"At West Charlotte last year, we had a lot of talent and a lot of athletes, but to me we weren't really a team," he said. "We're more like brothers here."

Harrison added that the former Lions bonded almost instantly with their new team.

"The first day we came here, they were already joking with us," the junior said. "I remember my first day at West Charlotte and I didn't talk to anybody."

Over the summer, some of North Meck's leaders like linebacker Andrew Yost and quarterback Mike Irvin had players - both new and old - over at their houses to play video games and come together as a team.

"Our seniors have been accommodating, they made them feel welcomed from day one," said Bradley.

Clyburn, who was thinking about going to Providence Day when realignment was announced, agreed, explaining that the transition was easy.

"All my family was here," he said. "I fit right in when I first came."

Clyburn may have had the biggest impact on the North Meck squad this season, as he has come up big at times for the Viking offense, which has seen its ups-and-downs.

"We're young, we're inexperienced, but we're getting better," said Bradley. "Our defense has done really well, but our offense has put them in some precarious positions. We've been a little bit too generous in the turnover battle."

Against Hough, Clyburn orchestrated a 90-yard drive, in which he gained 88 of those yards, running the "wildcat" offense to put his Vikings on top for good in the fourth quarter.

The 6-foot, 200 pounder did that after turning the ball over earlier in that game.

Clyburn has also contributed on the ground, seeing some time at running back and rushing for two touchdowns heading into last Friday's game against Mallard Creek.

The Vikings are amidst a tough stretch of their season. After losing to the No. 2 team in the state, Mallard Creek, 48-0 Friday, the Vikings (3-4, 2-2 in the I-Meck) face Vance, Mooresville and Hopewell to close out the regular season.

That's a big reason why North Meck will need these former Lions to step up down the stretch.

"We'll just see if we're playoff worthy or not," said Bradley.

"I'd love to see this team go - we have a bunch of good kids and it would be a good experience for them."