High School Sports

Prep Football Preview: Iredell County

How Hickory Ridge football coach Jupiter Wilson lost nearly 100 pounds

Using his faith in God and a lot of want to, Hickory Ridge's Jupiter Wilson, a former UNC Tar Heel offensive lineman, has lost nearly 100 pounds, heading into his first season as a high school football coach.
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Using his faith in God and a lot of want to, Hickory Ridge's Jupiter Wilson, a former UNC Tar Heel offensive lineman, has lost nearly 100 pounds, heading into his first season as a high school football coach.

Preseason all-county team

Offense

QB – Nebanye Moore, Statesville, 6-3, 205, Jr.

RB – Chavion Smith, Statesville, 5-9, 190, Jr.

RB – Emmanuel Long, West Iredell, 6-0, 235, Sr.

WR – Ky’wuan Dukes, Statesville, 6-1, 190, Sr.

WR – Darius Smyre, South Iredell, 5-9, 155, Sr.

WR – Cullen Smith, South Iredell, 6-1, 180, Sr.

OL – Seth Williams, Statesville, 6-4, 305, Sr.

OL – Austin Reeves, Lake Norman, 6-6, 240, Sr.

OL – Za’Heir Barnes-Vaughn, Mooresville, 6-0, 220, Jr.

OL – Peyton Davis, Lake Norman, 6-2, 250, Jr.

OL – Sam Buff, South Iredell, 6-1, 275, Sr.

Specialists

ATH – Hunter DeBerardino, Mooresville, 6-1, 180, Sr.

SPEC – Will Gordon, Lake Norman, 5-9, 185, Sr.

K/P – Isaac Riffle, Mooresville, 6-0, 170, Sr.

Defense

DL – T.J. Boller, South Iredell, 6-0, 240, Sr.

DL – Ashton Crooks, Mooresville, 6-1, 240, Sr.

DL – Kinstin Reaves, Statesville, 6-0, 260, Jr.

LB – Malik Birchett, Mooresville, 6-3, 205, Sr.

LB – Ryan Jackson, Mooresville, 6-0, 175, Sr.

LB – Say’Qwon Miller, West Iredell, 6-1, 195, Sr.

LB – Zach Morlidge, Pine Lake Prep, 5-11, 215, Sr.

DB – Will Sauder, Lake Norman, 6-0, 185, Jr.

DB – Sam Cornacchione, Pine Lake Prep, 6-2, 180, Jr.

DB – Hunter Bolden, North Iredell, 6-0, 170, Sr.

DB – Holden Henderson, Statesville Christian, 6-2, 190, Sr.

Iredell County Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Nebanye Moore, Statesville, QB, Jr.

Iredell County Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Malik Birchett, Mooresville, LB, Sr.

School Previews

LAKE NORMAN

Head Coach: Jonathan Oliphant (2nd year as Lake Norman head coach).

2018 Record: 3-9 (1-6 in the I-Meck 4A).

2019 Conference: I-Meck 4A/4A.

Returning Starters: 8

Returning Letterman: 22

Key Returning Starters: Austin Reeves, Sr., OL/DL (6-6, 240); Zach Zipadelli, Sr., WR/DB (5-9, 175); Will Gordon, Sr., RB/DB (5-9, 185); Joseph Young, Sr., RB/LB (5-10, 205); Max Williamson, Jr., TE/LB (6-3, 250); Will Sauder, Jr., WR/DB (6-0, 185).

Key Newcomers: Kris Petroski, Sr., RB/LB (5-10, 185) (Pine Lake Prep transfer); Will Kobuszewski, Jr., WR/DB (6-2, 180); Tanner Schmidt, Jr., LB/RB (5-9, 215).

Outlook: Lake Norman has struggled in the last two years going 5-18 overall, including 2-12 in the I-Meck 4A. This year, help is on the way from a junior varsity team that went 10-0 last year. Add in seniors in RB Will Gordon (721 yards rushing last year), OL Austin Reeves (6-6, 240) and Pine Lake Prep transfer Kris Petroski (695 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns) -- plus a strong junior class -- and Lake Norman will have more playmakers on both sides of the ball.

MOORESVILLE

Head Coach: Thad Wells (2nd year as Mooresville head coach; 9-4 at Mooresville; 42-21 overall).

2018 Record: 9-4 (4-3 in the I-Meck 4A conference).

2019 Conference: I-Meck 4A/4A.

Returning Starters: 7

Returning Letterman: 30

Key Returning Starters: Hunter DeBerardino, Sr., QB (6-1, 180); Keshaun Black, Sr., WR (5-10, 160); Malik Birchett, Sr., LB (6-3, 205); Isaac Riffle, Sr., K/P (6-0, 170); Za’Heir Barnes-Vaughn, Jr., OL/DL (6-0, 220); Justin Torrence, Sr., WR (5-10, 180); Elijah Wilson, So., RB/DB (6-0, 175).

Other Key Returnees/Key Newcomers: Ryan Jackson, Sr., ILB/HB (6-0, 174); Devan Joslin, Sr., WR/S (6-0, 185); Glenwood Robinson, Jr., RB/Spur (5-10, 167); Ashton Edstrom, Jr., RB/Spur (6-0, 185).

Outlook: Mooresville was much improved last season, going 9-4 in Coach Wells first season in charge (4-8 in 2017). The Blue Devils will have to overachieve again in 2019 with only seven starters back. Senior QB Hunter DeBerardino (1,854 yards passing, 20 touchdowns last year) and RB/WR Keshaun Black return to lead an offense that averaged 29 points per game.

NORTH IREDELL

Head Coach: David Lewis (4th year as North Iredell head coach; 3-30 at North Iredell).

2018 Record: 3-8 (0-5 in the North Piedmont conference (NPC)).

2019 Conference: NPC/3A.

Returning Starters: 12

Returning Letterman: 16

Key Returning Starters: Hunter Bolden, Sr., WR/DB (6-0, 170); Jayden Turner, Jr., OL/DL (6-4, 265); Ben Gaither, Jr., OL/DL (6-2, 285); C.J. Parise, Jr., TE/LB (6-2, 190).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: After going 0-22 in 2016 and 2017, the Raiders took a big step forward with a 3-8 record in 2018. This year, North Iredell looks to build on that momentum with 12 starters back. The team’s most valuable player, senior WR Hunter Bolden (30 catches for 426 yards last year), will try to help spark an offense that will have to score more points (11 points per game last year) for the Raiders to be more competitive.

PINE LAKE PREP

Head Coach: Austin Trotter (1st year as Pine Lake Prep head coach).

2018 Record: 4-7 (1-6 in the South Piedmont 1A conference (SPC 1A)).

2019 Conference: SPC 1A

Returning Starters: 9

Returning Letterman: 20

Key Returning Starters: Zach Morlidge, Sr., RB/LB (5-11, 215); Sam Cornacchione, Jr., WR/S (6-2, 180); Riley Mauppin, Jr., WR/CB (5-10, 170); Cole Frederick, Sr., OL/DL (6-2, 180).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: New head coach Austin Trotter takes over a Pride program that is 29-29 in the last five years. The former Lake Norman Charter offensive coordinator plans to open up the offense and make the Pride more pass oriented than its Wing-T option of the past. Pine Lake Prep will depend on two-way standouts in senior RB/LB Zach Morlidge (103 tackles last year), and junior WR/DB Sam Cornacchione and junior WR/DB Riley Mauppin.

SOUTH IREDELL

Head Coach: Scott Miller (10th year as South Iredell head coach).

2018 Record: 7-6 (4-1 in the North Piedmont conference (NPC)).

2019 Conference: NPC/3AA.

Returning Starters: 12 (8 offense; 4 defense).

Returning Letterman: 29

Key Returning Starters: Cullen Smith, Sr., WR (6-1, 180); Darius Smyre, Sr., WR/DB (5-9, 155); Alterek Adams, Sr., RB (5-10, 190); T.J. Boller, Sr., DL (6-0, 240); Sam Buff, Sr., OL (6-1, 275).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: South Iredell has been consistent winners averaging 10 wins per season over the last four years. But if the Vikings are going to return to double-digit victories, they will need senior playmakers like RB Alterek Adams (586 yards rushing last year) and WRs Cullen Smith (42 catches, seven touchdowns) and Darius Smyre (63 catches, five touchdowns) to step into lead roles on offense.

STATESVILLE

Head Coach: Randall Gusler (13th year as Statesville football coach, 24 years overall; 99-67 overall).

2018 Record: 9-4 (4-1 in the North Piedmont conference (NPC)).

2019 Conference: NPC/3A.

Returning Starters: 15 (9 offense; 6 defense).

Returning Letterman: N/A.

Key Returning Starters: Seth Williams, Sr., OL (6-4, 305); Nabayne Moore, Jr., QB (6-3, 205); Chavion Smith, Jr., RB (5-9, 190).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Greyhounds have won at least nine games in four of the last five seasons. This year, Statesville returns 15 starters headlined by juniors in QB Nabayne Moore (1,971 yards passing, 19 touchdowns last year) and RB Chavion Smith (908 yards rushing, 17 touchdowns) with 6-foot-4, 305 Appalachian State recruit Seth Williams paving the way.

STATESVILLE CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Jason Howard (1st year as Statesville Christian football coach).

2018 Record: 4-4.

2019 Conference: Independent.

Returning Starters: 15

Returning Letterman: 21

Key Returning Starters: Holden Henderson, Sr., QB/FS (6-2, 190); Josiah Edwards, So., RB/CB (5-9, 155); Jacob Smith, Jr., CB/WR (6-2, 165).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Statesville Christian won 21 games in 2016 and 2017 combined, including the 2016 NCISAA Division III state title, before slipping back to 4-4 last year. This season, the Lions will look to senior QB, Holden Henderson and RB Josiah Edwards to jumpstart the offense. If Statesville Christian’s veteran team can adjust to their third head coach (Jason Howard) in as many years quickly, they have a chance to get back on the winning side of .500.

WEST IREDELL

Head Coach: Monte Simmons (5th year as West Iredell head coach; 13-28 at West Iredell).

2018 Record: 5-6 (4-3 in the Northwest Foothills’ 2A conference).

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

Returning Starters: 12 (5 offense; 7 defense).

Returning Letterman: 23

Key Returning Starters: Say’Qwon Miller, Sr., LB (6-1, 195); Emmanuel Long, Sr. RB (6-0, 235); William Barber, Sr., DB (5-9, 165); Gabriel Kitchens, Sr., WR (6-1, 177); Eli Kitchens, Sr., QB (6-1, 175).

Key Newcomers: Zay Henderson, Sr., QB (6-1, 195).

Outlook: After winning just seven total games from 2012 to 2016, West Iredell has been much more competitive going 10-13 in the last two years. With 12 starters back on a senior-heavy team, the Warriors have a chance to earn their first winning season since 2010. West Iredell will have plenty of firepower on offense with seniors in QB Eli Kitchens (919 yards passing, 11 touchdowns last year) and RB Emmanuel Long (945 yards rushing, 18 touchdowns) returning. The West Iredell defense returns seven starters led by senior LB Say’Qwon Miller.

Iredell County Football Conference Predictions

I-Meck 4A Conference

To be announced when Mecklenburg County previews debut

North Piedmont Conference

  1. Statesville; 2. South Iredell; 3. West Rowan; 4. East Rowan; 5. North Iredell; 6. Carson.

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 Piedmont 1A Conference 7 (SPC 1A)

  1. Thomas Jefferson Academy; 2. Mountain Island Charter; 3. Bessemer City; 4. Community School of Davidson; 5. Cherryville; 6. Pine Lake Prep; 7. Union Academy; 8. Highland Tech; 9. Christ the King.
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