High School Sports

Friday’s Observations: After turmoil, Ardrey Kell wins again, hits rare air

Ardrey Kell High’s senior class of football players have been through a lot.

New Knights coach Greg Jachym, a former Ardrey Kell assistant, is the school’s third head coach in four years.

That senior class, going through new systems and new coaching staffs almost every year, never got to know what a winning season felt like. They were 6-6 as freshman, 3-9 as sophomores and 5-7 as a juniors.

That all changed this season under Jachym.

Ardrey Kell routed West Mecklenburg 31-7 Friday and won its seventh straight game. No Knights team has ever won seven straight games before. And the Knights (7-1, 4-0 SoMECK) assured themselves of their first winning season since 2015 and will play at Berry (1-6, 0-3) next week with a chance to win a share of the league title.

“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” Jachym said, “and we’re working hard every day and trying to do the little things right and trying not to look too far ahead.”

Jachym knew this senior class could be good, having watched it grow up through adversity. When he got the job he just focused on putting players he knew in the right positions to make plays.

Like a good chess player, Jachym moved his pieces around and used some of the knowledge he gained working under four different head coaches since he came to the school in 2007.

And it’s all working out.

“We knew we had a really good senior class coming up,” Jachym said, “full of really good leaders and really good football players. I just tried to do my job and help the team win. We knew we had a talented group and wanted to send them out the right way.”

I asked Jachym an age-old sportswriter’s question: “If I had told you back in the spring that you would be 7-1 now, what would you say?”

Jachym paused. Then he giggled.

“I would say 7-1 is awesome,” he said. “I’d wish we’d won the other one.”

Friday’s Videos

Friday’s Quick Links

Friday’s NC/SC scores, Sweet 16, next week’s schedule

Friday’s top performers l 10.18.19

No. 1 Mallard Creek routs Hopewell

No. 2 Myers Park routs Hickory Ridge after challenge

After Independence stadium vandalized, teams play Friday

Northwest Cabarrus rallies to stop Central Cabarrus

On Senior Night, Crest springs upset of Hunter Huss

Butler takes down Independence for 5th straight season

Elevator

Mooresville: beat Lake Norman for the 13th time Friday, 17-14, and leads the all-time series against its arch rival 13-5.

Rasheed Burns, Anson Senior: 11.5 tackles, three assists in Friday’s 34-21 win over Mount Pleasant.

Myers Park: Mustangs averaging 53 points per game after Friday’s 52-14 win over Hickory Ridge.

Friday’s #BIG5 Top Performers

Jadus Davis, Metrolina Christian: 350 yards total offense in a 26-6 win over the Cabarrus Warriors: 20 carries, 248 yards rushing and two touchdowns plus six catches for 102 yards.

Caleb Hood, Richmond Senior: Quarterback was 14-for-20 passing for 253 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-14 win over Hoke County. Hood ran eight times for 118 yards and two more scores.

Jared Joseph, Ardrey Kell: Quarterback connected on 33-of-47 passes for 333 yards and four scores in a 31-7 win over Olympic. He went 15-of-18 for for 167 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.

TJ Ruff, Crest: Junior running back/quarterback sparked a 36-29 upset over Hunter Huss. He had an interception to go with his three rushing touchdowns, one 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown while throwing the winning touchdown pass.

Nick Wilds-Lawing (Northwest Cabarrus): In basically one half of play in a 21-17 win over Central Cabarrus, Wilds-Lawing accounted for 178 total yards and threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Marquan Williams with 1:01 left. Wilds-Lawing was injured early in the game but was cleared to return at halftime.

Three Quick Thoughts

1. Charlotte Country Day won the Division II state championship in private school last season, but is looking like its ready for a Division I berth now. Friday’s 13-7 win over Arden Christ School was Country Day’s fourth in a row. The Bucs are 8-1 with a huge game with Charlotte Latin ahead next week.

The eight wins matches last season’s total and is the most since 2012.

All four Big South teams are 1-1 in league play. Next week, Latin plays Country Day and Providence Day plays Charlotte Christian in regular-season finales.

2. So how has Charlotte Catholic responded to a 45-0 loss to Weddington a few weeks ago? The Cougars haven’t given up a point. Catholic followed up last week’s 20-0 win over Indian Trail Sun Valley with a 49-0 win over Monroe Parkwood Friday.

Those are not powerhouse teams this season, but Catholic -- unranked and under-the-radar -- is trying to work out its scoring issues before the postseason. The defense is championship good, despite the Weddington result. From here, it looks like the Cougars are still going to be big factor in the 3A playoffs.

3. The one downside to having all of the big conference showdowns in Mecklenburg County so early is that the final few weeks of the regular-season possibly -- possibly -- won’t have much drama.

Myers Park in the Southwestern 4A, Ardrey Kell in the SoMECK and Mallard Creek in I-MECK have one game leads and will be favored in all of their regular-season games the rest of the way. Mallard Creek (7-0-1, 4-0), however, will have to play Hough (5-3, 4-0) Nov. 1. Hough has won four straight.

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Langston Wertz Jr. is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked at the Observer since 1988. He’s covered everything from Final Fours and NFL to video games and Britney Spears. Wertz -- a West Charlotte High and UNC grad -- is the rare person who can answer “Charlotte,” when you ask, “What city are you from.”
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