Lake Norman & Mooresville

Devils hope to keep momentum

Mooresville was one of the most surprising teams in the state last season.

Finishing with a 8-4 record under first-year coach Hal Capps following a winless 2009 season, the Blue Devils hope to carry over some of that momentum.

But suffering several key loses, especially on the offensive end, Capps knows it won't be easy.

"I think it's a whole new team," he said.

The Blue Devils will be without their quarterback, Patrick O'Brien, after he led the team by passing for more than 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Mooresville will have to also replace its four wide receivers - including Kyle Haslett and senior Shawn Lester, who has decided not to play football this year to focus on basketball - as well as its tight end and most of its offensive line.

"We're still trying to piece together an offense that fits our players," said Capps. "Our jobs as coaches are to put our kids in a position where they have a chance to be successful, so that's what we're trying to do."

Senior Deonte Black will take over at quarterback after playing behind O'Brien last year. Capps said he's been impressed by Black's leadership in the offseason.

Junior Dre Howell will have to step up at tight end to give Black and Mooresville a consistent passing game - something which the Blue Devils heavily relied upon last season.

"I don't see us throwing the ball all over the field like we did last year," said Capps.

The coach added that his biggest concern is how the line, which only returns one starter, will come together.

On the other side of the ball, the defensive line might be the team's strength.

With returning senior Charles Wilkes and junior Deandre Coleman, the unit could be among the I-Meck's most talented.

The Blue Devils will also count on senior linebacker Scott Markofski, who returns after having 99 tackles last season. Its two outside linebackers, senior Matt Davis and sophomore Raphael Montgomery, should also be a big boost.

"We feel really good about our front seven," said Capps. "They have good size, good strength, good quickness. They have a great understanding of the defense."

Senior B.J. Stockton will lead the Mooresville secondary, a unit for which Capps has high expectations.

Capps said the team's weakness going into the season is its kicking game, which the coach knows can be a game-changer in close games.

"We have five kickers right now, so somebody surely has got to step up," he said.

Capps hopes his Blue Devils can have another competitive season in the I-Meck, as they learn what it takes to be a championship.

"We have great opportunities to beat some good teams," he said. "I really take those opportunities seriously."

Capps said his main goal is to make an impact in the playoffs after losing in the first round last season.

After surprising in the I-Meck last year, going 5-2 to finish third in the conference, Capps knows that won't be the case this go-around. His team is ready for that challenge.

"I'd rather coach a group that expects to win than a group that hopes to surprise somebody," he said.