Before West Charlotte beat North Mecklenburg 38-21 Friday night to win for the first time in nearly a year, interim Lions coach Josh Harris had a simple message for his players:
“We deserve to win,” he told the Lions. “You guys worked for it, and let’s make it happen.”
West Charlotte led 24-14 in the second half before North Mecklenburg scored to close to within 24-21. North got the ball back and the Lions’ defense came up with an important stop, which set up a 55-yard scoring run from Jekoya Patton.
On North Meck’s next possession, the Vikings were driving until Lions free safety Jadarius Horton intercepted a pass and returned it 80 yards for a game-sealing score.
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For the Lions, that score -- and this win -- meant so much.
Harris was promoted from junior varsity coach two weeks ago after Lions coach Daren Hart resigned, citing lack of support. Harris jumped into his first varsity head coaching job at a school that was once Mecklenburg County’s premier program, but one that has had seven coaches in nine seasons before him, and a program that has had one winning season since 2010.
And Harris, whose team lost 45-7 to reigning state champion Mallard Creek in his debut last week, knew how important winning was for West Charlotte.
“It feels great,” he said. “The kids were happy and that’s the main thing. The kids worked very hard this week and last week. They had a different mentality and they stepped up their focus. And the coaches did the same.”
West Charlotte (1-6, 1-1 MECKA) hadn’t scored more than 13 points all season and hadn’t won since beating Hopewell 26-21 in October 2015. It was the most points West Charlotte has scored since beating Harding 40-16 in September of last year.
North Meck (2-5, 0-2) lost for the third straight week.
“Last week (against the three-time state champion Mavericks), the goal was to have fun,” Harris said. “But we knew what we had all along, and things happen for a reason and we knew we were a big family and it all clicked. We expected to win (against North Meck).
“Our record doesn’t show the talent we have in terms of the players we have or the experience we have as coaches. So what better time to start showing that than now? We had tremendous support from the administration and the alumni. You can feel the different vibe. You can feel the different atmosphere, and the boys’ hard work paid off tonight.”
Observations: Dale Jr. attends first high school game in 20 years -- and bumps into his brother
Guess who came to the Mooresville High football game Friday?
Well, it was NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr., all dressed in Blue Devil blue. Wearing a Mooresville T-shirt and cap, Earnhardt saw his former high school beat North Lincoln 38-7 on homecoming. Earnhardt posted to Twitter that he was attending the game with fiancee’ Amy Reimann and that it was his first high school football game in 20 years.
He didn’t realize, at first, that he was sitting two rows away from his brother, Kerry.
He tweeted that, too, and sent out a photo.
Earnhardt is out for the NASCAR season since suffering a concussion during a race at Michigan International Speedway in June. He has missed 10 races.
▪ In one of the night’s biggest upsets, Central Cabarrus beat Concord 20-14. Concord had six turnovers, including an interception near the Central end zone with less than two minutes to play. The Spiders (4-2, 3-1) had a 29-game conference win streak snapped. Central Cabarrus (2-4, 1-3) ended a four-game losing streak. Concord had won four straight games since an opening-week loss to Kannapolis Brown.
▪ Hunter Huss beat South Point for first time since 2006. Akeythio Carson intercepted a pass in the end zone to seal the win for the Huskies.
Providence Day 49, Cannon 7: Tailback Gabe Montgomery ran for four touchdowns in the win. Max Pearson ran for two and Chargers quarterback Dane Horton hit Porter Rooks for one score. Providence Day led 28-0 at halftime. Cannon got an 8-yard scoring pass from Mason McLaughlin to Will Exson for its only points.
Porter Ridge 44, Independence 0: The Patriots were shut on their 50th anniversary homecoming and have equaled their worst start since the 1978 team went 0-7. It’s the third time this season that Independence has been shut out. The Patriots have a bye next week and play Garinger Oct. 14. Porter Ridge (4-2) has won two of its past three and plays Garinger Friday.
Mallard Creek 69, Hopewell 8: After struggling to score in the first month of the season, the Mavericks have now scored 114 points in two weeks. Mallard Creek will need to have its offense clicking as it will hit the heart of its conference schedule over its next three games: at Hough next week, Vance at home Oct. 14 and at A.L. Brown Oct. 21.
Davidson Day 42, Northside Christian 0: Davidson Day quarterback Sam Hartman threw five touchdown passes, including two to Nolan Groulx in the win. Groulx also had a rushing score. Patriots defensive back Keegan Mayfield had two interceptions and Tommy Lawley had two touchdown catches.
Weddington 55, Charlotte Country Day 7: Weddington led 49-7 at halftime en route to winning on Country Day’s homecoming. Wil Brunson had 85 rushing yards and a score and 24 receiving yards and a score. Weddington quarterback Max Bayha was 9-for-16 for 126 yards and three touchdowns.
Charlotte Latin 38, Southside Christian 7: The Hawks led 28-0 at halftime and cruised. Latin quarterback Bates Jones completed 18-of-24 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns. Latin has a showdown with Davidson Day next week in a rematch of last season’s Division I private school state final.
Charlotte Christian 69, Victory Christian 0: Christian outgained Victory Christian 375-151. The Knights ran 24 offensive plays to 42 for Victory. Christian quarterback Garrett Shrader was 8-for-9 for 194 yards and four scores for the Knights, who led 49-0 at halftime. Aaron Walker ran 13 times for 73 yards for Victory.
South Meck 58, Berry 0: The Sabres (4-2, 2-0 SoMeck 8) won for the second straight week. South Meck has shut out five of its past 16 opponents dating to last year. Berry is 1-5, 0-2, dropping its second straight.
Ardrey Kell 31, Olympic 24: The Knights (3-3, 1-1 SoMeck 8) rallied to avoid the upset. Ardrey Kell ended a two-game losing streak. Olympic (2-4, 0-2) lost its third straight.
Charlotte Catholic 46, Harding 12: Catholic (5-1, 2-0 SoMeck) won its fifth straight game. The Cougars have scored 46 or more points in their past three games. Harding (2-4, 0-2) lost its third straight.
Friday’s Top Performers
Luke Bricken, Metrolina Christian: 247 yards rushing in Friday’s 27-14 win over North Raleigh Christian.
D’Wayne Crawford, Concord First Assembly: 232 yards receiving, two scores in Friday’s 51-21 win over Village Christian.
Marcus Graham, East Lincoln: Ran 15 times for 174 yards and one touchdown in the Mustangs' 42-35 loss to No. 16 Lincolnton.
Kingsley Ifedi, Vance: 19 carries for 85 yards and two scores in Friday’s 24-21 loss to A.L. Brown. He completed 19-of-31 passes for 241 yards.
Jared Jones, Richard Latimer, West Mecklenburg: In a 21-19 win over Providence, Jones ran 17 times for 154 yards and a score. Latimer completed 13-of-27 passes for 201 yards and two scores.
Cordel Littlejohn, Sage Surratt, Lincolnton: Littlejohn threw for 273 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for two more scores (1 and 29 yards) and a key 2-point conversion run late in the fourth quarter of the No. 16 Wolves' 42-35 win over East Lincoln. Surratt caught a season-best 20 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns, including the game winner with 13.5 seconds remaining. Surratt’s single-game catches tie for the second most in N.C. history.
Gage Moloney, Wally Wilmore, Rock Hill Northwestern: Moloney completed 24-of-39 passes for 342 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-0 win over Fort Mill. Wilmore caught 11 passes for 127 yards and two scores.
Nijere Peoples, Davis Cheek, Butler: Peoples had 15 rushes, 293 yards, six touchdowns in a 55-21 win over East Mecklenburg. His rushing total was the 30th best in Mecklenburg County history and broke Butler’s 15-year-old single-game school record of 275 set by Gerrod Rivers in 2001. The six touchdowns rushing tie for second best in Mecklenburg County history. Cheek completed 13-of-18 passes for 254 yards and a score, including four passes for 148 yards to Kusegi Cureton.
Nakohr Wise, A.L. Brown: Had a key interception in Friday’s 24-21 upset win over No. 1 Vance. It ended Vance’s final drive deep in Brown territory in the final seconds.