University City

Victory over Lake Norman may get Vance back on track

It was great to see Vance get back to winning this week after struggling for much of the year.

They defeated Lake Norman 20-14 last week, for only their second win of the season, but looked good doing it. The offense was efficient and the defense was stifling - a recipe for success they have been looking for since beating Garinger the second game of the year.

The Cougars put a decent showing together against Mallard Creek the week before and played them as tough as anyone had since Butler to open the season. The Mavericks game was somewhat surprising after Vance had been bad in the previous two games: a 33-0 loss to Mooresville and a 21-7 loss to Hough.

Now, the Cougars can carry that momentum and close out the rest of the season on a high note.

Vance was thought to be the team to challenge the Mavericks this year, after being the only team to beat them a season ago. The Cougars were returning 12 starters from a team that won 11 games.

This year has not gone as planned, mainly due to an inconsistent offense and coaching shake-ups.

Phil Culicerto, the Cougars' head coach, was forced to resign and Billy Leeson took over just days before the season. Culicerto has since returned, and Leeson has done a good job filling in.

One steady performer, junior star running back Larenz Bryant, has carried the load much of the year and ran for 85 yards against Lake Norman to help snap a five-game losing streak.

The Cougars problems have been compounded by playing one of the toughest schedules in the area, with games against Mallard Creek, Butler, Independence and Phillip O Berry - all teams ranked in the Sweet 16.

The defense has given up more than 35 points a game and has been outscored 282-140 so far. Hopefully, the Lake Norman win sets the tone and gets them back on track.

Vance's defense was the difference last week and was able to hold Lake Norman to just two first downs and 25 total yards. The remaining three games for the Cougars are against North Meck, Hopewell and West Charlotte, who have a combined 7-16 record.

Winning the remaining games is manageable and would put the Cougars, led by Bryant and fellow junior, quarterback Jalen Latter, in good shape for next year, when they could compete for the conference title.

Vance was one team that has been hard to figure out this year and has far too much talent to be a 2-6 team. It was great to see them get a hard-fought win.

Now they can build on it and get some momentum going for next year.

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