High School Sports

Prep Football Preview: Catawba County

UNC recruit Elijah Burris out for titles, records in 2019

UNC recruit Elijah Burris of Mountain Island Charter has a shot to become a top 10 rusher in NC high school history. But he's out for much more than that.
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UNC recruit Elijah Burris of Mountain Island Charter has a shot to become a top 10 rusher in NC high school history. But he's out for much more than that.

Preseason all-county team

Offense

QB – Bain Sipe, Maiden, 5-9, 165, Sr.

RB – Corey Siemer, Fred T. Foard, 6-2, 205, Sr.

RB – Cody Young, Hickory, 5-8, 170, Sr.

WR – Davis Amos, Hickory, 6-7, 216, Sr.

WR – Dylan Abernathy, Maiden, 6-0, 165, Sr.

WR – Zach Lee, St. Stephens, 6-4, 178, Sr.

OL – Grayson Lineberger, Hickory, 6-2, 250, Sr.

OL – Cole Howard, Bandys, 6-3, 300, Jr.

OL – Presley Poovey, Fred T. Foard, 5-11, 225, Sr.

OL – Casey Bolick, Bunker Hill, 6-2, 240, Sr.

OL – Wayne Carroll, Bandys, 6-2, 230, Jr.

Specialists

ATH – Allan Wilfong, Newton Conover, 5-10, 185, Sr.

ATH – Justice Craig, Newton Conover, 5-11, 170, Jr.

K/P- Daniel Lackey, Fred T. Foard, 6-2, 180, Sr.



Defense

DL – Daniel Harris, Maiden, 6-2, 240, Jr.

DL – Sebastian Parrish, Hickory, 6-2, 230, Sr.

LB – Josh Williams, Bandys, 6-2, 225, Sr.

LB – Chris Morgan, Maiden, 6-0, 230, Sr.

LB – Marcus Sigmon, Bunker Hill, 5-11, 165, Sr.

LB – Kylan Bradshaw, Newton Conover, 6-1, 235, Sr.

LB – Christian Sigmon, Bandsy, 6-3, 185, Sr.

DB – Zay Huitt, Hickory, 5-9, 155, Sr.

DB – Deandre Carlton, Hickory, 5-8, 165, Sr.

DB – Hunter Jones, Bandys, 5-10, 165, Sr.

DB – Desmond Anderson, Bunker Hill, 5-9, 140, Sr.

DB – Tristan Rankin, Hickory, 6-1, 197, Sr.

Catawba County Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Corey Siemer, Fred T. Foard, RB, Sr.

Catawba County Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Josh Williams, Bandys, LB, Sr.

Catawba County Preseason Coach of the Year: Will Byrne, Maiden.

School Previews

BANDYS

Head Coach: Tom Eanes (2nd year as Bandys’ head coach; 31st year overall).

2018 Record: 12-2 (7-0 in the South Fork 2A conference).

2019 Conference: South Fork 2A Conference/2AA.

Returning Starters: 6 (3 offense; 3 defense).

Returning Letterman: 15

Key Returning Starters: Josh Williams, Sr., MLB (6-2, 225); Hunter Jones, Sr., DB/LB (5-10, 165); Christian Sigmon, Sr., LB/WR (6-3, 185); Wayne Carroll, Jr., OL/DL (6-2, 230); Cole Howard, Jr., OL/DL (6-3, 300); Blake Reynolds, Sr., DB (6-1, 180).

Key Newcomers: Jackson Spicer, Jr., QB/AB/DB (6-0, 175); Isaiah Gilchrist, Jr., BB/LB (5-8, 170); Parker DeHart, So. QB/AB/DB (6-0, 165); Dylan Thompson, Jr., WR/LB (5-11, 180); Maddox Spires, Jr., OL/DL (6-2, 210); Cage Stamey, Jr., OL/DL (5-11, 235).

Outlook: Coach Tom Eanes has had a history of rebuilding programs and jumped Bandys to a 12-2 record in his first season in 2018. Now, the challenge is for Eanes and company to build on that with only six starters back. Bandys will need senior MLB Josh Williams (102 tackles, three fumble recoveries, Catawba County defensive player of the year) to lead the offense that averaged nearly 40 points last season but returns three starters.

BUNKER HILL

Head Coach: Patrick Clark (2nd year as Bunker Hill head coach).

2018 Record: 2-9 (2-4 in the Northwest Foothills’ 2A conference).

2019 Conference: Northwest Foothills’ 2A conference.

Returning Starters: 19 (9 offense; 10 defense).

Returning Letterman: 23

Key Returning Starters: Casey Bolick, Sr., OT (6-2, 240); Lawson York, So., C (6-1, 280); Desmond Anderson, Sr., SS (5-9, 140); Marcus Sigmon, Sr., OLB (5-11, 165); Aaron Bryant, Sr. DE (6-1, 210); Matt Garcia, Sr., OLB (5-10, 165); Parker Garrison, Sr., ILB (5-11, 175); Carson Sigmon, Sr., ILB (6-2, 170).

Key Newcomers: Chadz Stevenson, So., ATH (5-10, 160); Jay Abrams, Jr., WR (6-0, 145); Cooper Watts, Jr., DE (6-0, 185); Kaden Robinson, So., RB/LB (6-1, 170); Carson Elder, So., QB (5-10, 160).

Outlook: Bunker Hill is 6-49 in the past five years. But this year’s team returns 19 starters, with a real hope for improvement. Senior OL Casey Bolick anchors a veteran offensive line. Sophomore QB Carson Elder and RB Kaden Robinson have had strong preseasons. But Bunker Hill will need its defense, which returns 10 starters, to be strong. That unit is led by senior DB Desmond Anderson (84 tackles) and senior LBs Marcus Sigmon (90 tackles) and Carson Sigmon (65 tackles).

FRED T. FOARD

Head Coach: Ryan Gettys (1st year in 2nd stint as Fred T. Foard head coach; Fred T. Foard coach from 2002-2010; 30-58 overall at Foard).

2018 Record: 6-6 (5-1 in the Northwest Foothills’ 2A Conference).

2019 Conference: Northwest Foothills’ 2A Conference/2AA.

Returning Starters: N/A.

Returning Letterman: N/A.

Key Returning Starters: Corey Siemer, Sr., RB (6-2, 205); Daniel Lackey, Sr., WR/K (6-2, 180); Brandon Alderman, Jr., FB (5-11, 180); Case Parker, Sr., RB (5-11, 180); Cameron Gore, So. RB/CB (5-11, 160); Marcus Cilino, Sr., WR/DB (6-0, 175);

Other Key Returnees: Will Frye, Sr., QB (6-0, 150).

Key Newcomers: Carson Butts, Jr., OL/DL; Derek Pressler, Jr. QB/WR/DB; Justin Simpkins, Jr., WR/DB; Landen Calloway, Jr., WR/DB.

Outlook: Former Fred T. Foard coach Ryan Gettys (2002-2010) returns to lead a Tigers’ program that has 15 wins in the past two seasons. In 2019, the Tigers will depend on a strong running game, featuring one of the state’s most prolific rushers in senior RB Corey Siemer (2,501 yards rushing, 28 touchdowns) and junior FB Brandon Alderman. Foard also has a special teams’ weapons in senior kicker, Daniel Lackey.

HICKORY

Head Coach: Russell Stone (3rd year as Hickory head coach; 41st year overall; 273-166 overall).

2018 Record: 5-6 (3-4 in the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference (NW3A/4A)).

2019 Conference: NW3A/4A Conference/3A.

Returning Starters: 11 (6 offense; 5 defense).

Returning Letterman: 26

Key Returning Starters: Cody Young, Sr., RB (5-8, 170); Davis Amos, Sr., WR (6-7, 216); Grayson Lineberger, Sr., OT/DL (6-2, 250); Tristan Rankin, Sr., SS (6-1, 197); Deandre Carlton, Sr., DB (5-8, 165); Zay Huitt, Sr., DB (5-9, 155); Sebastian Parrish, Sr., DE/LB (6-2, 230); Demonta Bryant, Jr., DL (6-1, 267).

Other Key Returnees: Jason Martin, Sr., QB (6-2, 230); Malachi Sumner, Sr., WR/DB (6-0, 195); Elijah Reid, Sr., DT (6-2, 331); Mykah Stone, Sr., LS/DB (5-11, 175).

Outlook: After winning only four games combined from 2014-16, Hickory has been 11-12 in the past two seasons under Stone. This year, with 11 starters back, the Red Tornadoes look to take another step forward. Hickory will have an explosive offense led by seniors in RB Cody Young (1,690 yards rushing, 22 touchdowns last year) and WR Davis Amos (27 catches for 724 yards, seven touchdowns) along with OL Grayson Lineberger. The Red Tornadoes’ defense should also be solid with senior leaders in DBs Deandre Carlton (leading tackler last year), Zay Huitt (six interceptions), Tristan Rankin and DE/LB Sebastian Parrish.

HICKORY HAWKS

Head Coach: Clifton Bennett (1st year as Hickory Hawks’ head coach).

2018 Record: 3-8 overall.

2019 Conference: Freelance/Homeschool Team.

Returning Starters: 8

Returning Letterman: 16

Key Returning Starters: Garrett Sain, Sr., QB (5-8, 160); Jackson Bennett, Jr., WR/CB (6-0, 150); Brandon Messer, Sr., LB/FB (6-0, 180); Jerah Jacumin, Sr., OL/DL (6-4, 250); Isaiah Ramsey, So., OL/DT (6-1, 235).

Key Newcomers: Zach Lucas, Sr., LB/FB (5-8, 185); Tre Sherrill, Jr., LB (5-8, 150); Tristan Bailey, Jr., WR/S (5-7, 135).

Outlook: The Hickory Hawks slipped to 3-8 last year after averaging eight wins per season from 2014-17. This year, new head coach Clifton Bennett returns eight starters. Senior QB Garrett Sain hopes to help improve an offense that averaged 15 points per game last season.

MAIDEN

Head Coach: Will Byrne (4th year as Maiden head coach/27-9 at Maiden).

2018 Record: 8-4 (4-3 in the South Fork 2A Conference).

2019 Conference: South Fork 2A Conference/2A.

Returning Starters: 14 (7 offense; 7 defense).

Returning Letterman: 17

Key Returning Starters: Chris Morgan, Sr., ILB/TE (6-0, 230); Dylan Abernethy, Sr., WR/DB (6-0, 165); Bain Sipe, Sr., QB (5-9, 165); Brennan James, Jr., WR/DB (6-2, 170); D.J. Murph, Jr., RB/DB (5-11, 150); Daniel Harris, Jr., OL/DL (6-2, 240); Carson Hansley, Sr., LB/WR (6-2, 175); Presley Poovey, Sr., C (5-11, 225).

Key Newcomers: Ethan Rhodes, So., QB/DB (6-1, 185); Dru McClough, So., LB/DL (6-2, 230); Aaron Lefevers, So., OL/DL (5-11, 210).

Outlook: Maiden has won eight games in each of the past four seasons, and with 14 starters back have the experience to be as good or better in 2019. The Blue Devils will feature senior QB Bain Sipe (1,935 yards passing, 19 touchdowns last year) and senior WR Dylan Abernethy (45 catches for 1,000 yards, 15 touchdowns) on an offense that averaged 30 points per game last year. The Maiden defense, which allowed 16 points per game last season, returns leaders in senior LB Chris Morgan (130 tackles, 12 tackles for loss) and junior DL Daniel Harris (60 tackles).

NEWTON CONOVER

Head Coach: Steven Pack (2nd year as Newton Conover head coach/6-16 overall).

2018 Record: 4-7 (2-5 in the South Fork 2A Conference).

2019 Conference: South Fork 2A Conference/2AA.

Returning Starters: 16 (8 offense; 8 defense).

Returning Letterman: 22

Key Returning Starters: Justice Craig, Jr., QB (5-11, 170); Allan Wilfong, Sr., RB (5-10, 185); Brandon Johnson, Jr., WR/DB (5-10, 170); Garrette Kurz, Sr., OL/DL (6-0, 250); Keagan Covington, Jr., WR/DB (5-9, 160); Josh Nichols, Sr., WR/DB (5-11, 175); Kylan Bradshaw, Sr., LB/HB (6-1, 235); Ryan Walker, Jr., OL/DL (5-10, 235).

Key Newcomers: Sakarri Morrison, So., LB (6-0, 175).

Outlook: Newton Conover suffered its first losing season since 2013, going 4-7, and not making the playoffs in 2018. This year with 16 starters back, it hopes for a big bounce back. Senior QB Justice Craig (1,636 yards passing, 15 touchdowns) and senior RB Allan Wilfong (1,502 yards rushing, 15 touchdowns) return to lead the offense. Senior LB Kylan Bradshaw (67 tackles) is one of eight starters back on defense.

ST. STEPHENS

Head Coach: Wayne Hicks (7th year as St. Stephens’ head coach; 23-45 overall).

2018 Record: 4-7 (3-4 in the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference (NW3A/4A)).

2019 Conference: NW3A/4A/3A.

Returning Starters: 9 (6 offense; 3 defense).

Returning Letterman: 14

Key Returning Starters: Zach Lee, Sr. WR (6-4, 178); Matt Hancock, Sr., FB (5-10, 202); Gabe Thomas, Sr., ILB (6-2, 182); Garrett Bolling, Sr., S (6-0, 150); Zak McLauchlin, Jr., CB/KR (5-7, 151); Connor Williams, Sr., QB (6-4, 182).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Indians have had only one winning season in the last decade (7-6 in 2015). Nine starters return but depth is a question mark, according coach Hicks. St. Stephens has some offensive pieces in senior QB Connor Williams (1,120 yards passing, 10 touchdowns last year), senior RB Matt Hancock (325 yards rushing) and senior WR Zach Lee (58 catches, nine touchdowns). But the Indians return only three starters on defense.

Catawba County Conference Predictions

Northwestern 3A/4A

  1. Watauga; 2 (tie). Alexander Central; 2 (tie). Freedom; 4. Hickory; 5. St. Stephens; 6. South Caldwell; 7. McDowell.

Northwestern Foothills’ 2A

  1. Hibriten; 2. Fred T. Foard; 3. West Iredell; 4. Patton; 5. Bunker Hill; 6. Draughn; 7. East Burke; 8. West Caldwell.

South Fork 2A Conference

  1. North Lincoln; 2. Maiden; 3. Bandys; 4. East Lincoln; 5. Newton Conover; 6. West Lincoln; 7. Lincolnton; 8. Lake Norman Charter.

--JAY EDWARDS

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