High School Sports

EXCLUSIVE: Observer-area high school football team-by-team capsules

Vance high's full back Jeremiah Hall gets stopped bay a A.L. Brown tackler during Monday night's football game played at Rocky River High School, Oct. 5,2015.
Vance high's full back Jeremiah Hall gets stopped bay a A.L. Brown tackler during Monday night's football game played at Rocky River High School, Oct. 5,2015. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Here are the Observer’s county-by-county high school football previews for Mecklenburg County. Other areas are linked below.

Correspondent Jay Edwards has compiled capsules for the Observer’s area schools.

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Mecklenburg County Football Capsules 2016

ARDREY KELL

Head Coach: Joe Evans (2nd year as Ardrey Kell head football coach; 27-12 overall)

2015 Record: 7-6 (4-3 MECKA 4A conference)

Key Returning Starters: Jon Rowe, Sr., OL/DL (6-3, 285); Jaylen Erwin, Sr., WR/DB (6-1, 175); Jackson Sinclair, Sr., TE/LB (6-2, 225); Grant Pease, Jr., OL (6-4, 235); Merrick Haston, Sr., RB/CB (6-0, 185); Nicco Crew, Jr., RB/LB (5-11, 200); Justin Lawson, Sr., RB/LB (6-3, 230); Josh Ausberry, Sr., DT/TE (6-2, 220).

Key Newcomers: Luke Hefferly, Jr., QB (6-3, 185); J.J. Skinner, Jr., WR (5-10, 180); John Fierick, Jr., LB/S (5-11, 210).

Returning Starters: 12

Returning Lettermen: 20

Outlook: Ardrey Kell has proven it can hang with best of the SoMeck8 conference, but is still chasing Charlotte Catholic for the top spot in the league. The Knights will need junior QB Luke Hefferly to prove he can run the show with experienced playmakers and an offensive line that gives Ardrey Kell a chance to be a factor the in the league race and into the playoffs.

BUTLER

Head Coach: Brian Hales (6th year as Butler head football coach)

2015 Record: 10-3 (5-1 Southwestern 4A conference)

Key Returning Starters: Davis Cheek, Sr., QB (6-3, 180); Christian Dixon, Sr., LB (6-0, 200); Dirk Cureton, Sr., WR/DB (5-9, 185); Maurice McClain, Sr., OL (6-1, 305); Devin Smith, Sr., OL/DL (5-10, 245); Nejuan Worthy, Jr., DE (6-4, 215); D.J. Little, Jr., WR/DB (6-2, 185); Kedron Smith, Sr., OL/DL (5-10, 295); Cam Taylor, Sr., OL/DL (6-1, 290).

Key Newcomers: Nijere Peoples, Jr., RB (5-10, 195); Tristan Quick, Sr., DL (6-2, 210); Keyon Lesane, So., WR/DB (5-9, 175); Kaleb Simmons, Jr., LB/TE (6-0, 230).

Returning Starters: 14

Returning Lettermen: 31

Outlook: When a 10-win season is a disappointment, you know how good your program has become. With 14 starters back led by senior QB Davis Cheek, the Bulldogs want nothing less than another 4AA state championship banner.

CAROLINA PRIDE

Head Coach: Mike Hawks (1st year as Carolina Pride head football coach)

2015 Record: 4-7

Key Returning Starters: James Theirfelder, Sr., QB (6-4, 225); Thomas Broussard, Jr., WR/DB (5-10, 165); Destiny Evans, Sr., RB/DB (5-11, 195); Thomas Theirfelder, Jr., Slot/LB (6-3, 200).

Key Newcomers: Christopher Bacon Jackson, So., TE/LB (6-3, 215).

Returning Starters: 9 (6 offense; 3 defense)

Returning Lettermen: N/A

Outlook: Former Charlotte Latin assistant Mike Hawks takes over a program that has talent, led by 6-foot-4 senior QB James Theirfelder. The Pride had their first losing season (4-7) in five years last year, making them eager to get back to their winning ways.

CHARLOTTE CATHOLIC

Head Coach: Mike Brodowicz (3rd year as Charlotte Catholic head football coach; 29-2 overall)

2015 Record: 15-0 (7-0, SoMeck8 conference champions, 4A state champions)

Key Returning Starters: Reid Brandt, Sr., DE (6-2, 210); Angel Marrero, III, Sr., RB (5-9, 160); John Newman, Sr., WR (6-2, 188); Ben Brodowicz, Sr., CB (5-11, 165); Jim Hurney, Sr., LB (6-0, 180); Jack Brigham, Sr., RB (5-9, 175); Rob Dumser, Sr., FS (6-0, 172); Connor Demaine, Sr., K/P (6-1, 200).

Key Newcomers: Wesley Alexander, Sr., FB (6-1, 205); Brady Berger, Sr., QB (6-1, 170); Brian Macuga, Sr., OG (6-1, 233); Jimmy Abate, Sr., TE (6-2, 205); Matt Beltrondo, Sr., LB (6-0, 190).

Returning Starters: 13

Returning Lettermen: 25

Outlook: Charlotte Catholic coach Mike Brodowicz has set an impossibly high standard in his years as head coach going 29-2, including a perfect season and 4A state title last year. But with 13 starters back, including loaded offensive/defensive lines, the Cougars want nothing less than a chance to win their second straight state championship.

CHARLOTTE CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Jason Estep (10th year as Charlotte Christian head football coach; 78-27 overall)

2015 Record: 7-4 (3-0, CISAA conference champions)

Key Returning Starters: Justus Woods, Jr., RB (6-2, 200); Garrett Shrader, So., QB (6-5, 200); Bryden Reed, Sr., DL (6-3, 245); Beau Suggs, Sr., FS (6-2, 180); Christian VanSickle, Sr., K/P (6-0, 180).

Key Newcomers: Ricky Kofoed, So., LB/TE (6-3, 200); J.T. Killen, So., TE/LB (6-3, 200); Obi Egbuna, So., WR/DB (5-11, 170).

Returning Starters: 9

Returning Lettermen: 25

Outlook: The Knights were one win away from playing for 4th consecutive NCISAA Division I state title last year. This season, they look to get back on top with sophomore QB Garrett Shrader and junior RB Justus Woods, leading a potent offense.

CHARLOTTE COUNTRY DAY

Head Coach: Drew Witman (2nd year as Charlotte Country Day head football coach)

2015 Record: 3-7 (0-3 in the CISAA conference)

Key Returning Starters: Luca Katz, Sr., OL/DL (5-11, 215); Nicholas Radford, Sr., RB (6-0, 210); Broadhus Robertson, Jr., LB/ATH (6-3, 195); Owen Engel, Sr., OL/DL (6-0, 200); Shaffer Day, Sr., OL/DL (6-1, 255); Connor Fewin, Jr., FB/LB (6-0, 175).

Key Newcomers: Triston Miller, So., TE/DL (6-5, 220); Rylan McLauren, So., RB/DB (5-8, 150); Myles Browner, So., WR/DB (6-0, 165).

Returning Starters: 10

Returning Lettermen: 21

Outlook: The Bucs struggled to put points on the board last season (17.8 ppg), but managed to stay in games. This season, Coach Witman and company hope to turn some tight losses into victories this year, but it won’t be easy in the unforgiving CISAA conference, where every game is a bitter rivalry.

CHARLOTTE LATIN

Head Coach: Larry McNulty (31st year as Charlotte Latin head football coach)

2015 Record: 8-4 (1-3 in CISAA)

Key Returning Starters: Melvin Rouse, Sr., WR/DB/KR (5-9, 175); Bates Jones, Sr., QB (6-7, 200); Demarkes Stradford, Jr., RB (6-0, 175); Chris Elliott, Sr., WR (6-0, 190); Robert Fuller, Sr., OL/DL (6-0, 230); Eddie Crutchfield, Sr., DE (6-1, 240); Conrad Song, Sr., WR/DB (5-9, 165).

Key Newcomers: Kevens Grammont, So., DE (6-3, 230); Todd Hartert, Jr., WR/DB (6-2, 170).

Returning Starters: 13 (7 offense; 6 defense)

Returning Lettermen: 28

Outlook: The reigning NCISAA Division I state runner-up have the weapons with 13 starters returning -- led by seniors WR/DB Melvin Rouse and senior QB Bates Jones -- to be serious contenders for both a CISAA conference and state championship. Also former Independence High head coach Justin Hardin joins the staff as defensive coordintor.

CHRIST THE KING

Head Coach: Jay Alverson (1st year as Christ the King head football coach; 9-1-1 overall)

2015 Record: 1st year team

Key Players: Joe Chaney, Sr., QB (6-3, 215); Bradley Loften, Sr., DE/C (6-1, 210); Drew Brenner, Fr., TE (5-9, 160).

Returning Starters/Lettermen: 1st year team

Outlook: Coach Jay Alverson is excited about his new team that is loaded with athletes, but understands the growing pains that go along with starting a program from the ground up with a lot of freshmen playing key roles.

COMMUNITY SCHOOL OF DAVIDSON

Head Coach: T. J. Albert

2015 Record: 12-3 (6-0, Southern Piedmont 1A conference champions)

Key Returning Starters: Luke Watts, Jr., QB (6-3, 175); Myles Dark, Sr., RB/LB (5-11, 200); Jack Ficara, Sr., TE/LB (6-2, 215); Jeff Smith, Jr., OL/LB; Jameson Coughlin, Sr., WR/

Key Newcomers: Will Webb; Tyler Lewis; Hunter Robinson.

Returning Starters: 12

Returning Lettermen: 24

Outlook: The Spartans not only won a school-record 12 games last year, but also won the SPC 1A conference title and got to the 1A state semifinals. This season, junior quarterback Luke Watts (2,122 yards passing, 24 touchdowns) and 11 other starters return looking to make the similar run in both the regular and postseason.

DAVIDSON DAY

Head Coach: Chad Grier (6th year as Davidson Day head football coach; 57-6 overall)

2015 Record: 12-0 (NCISAA Division III State champions)

Key Returning Starters: Chase Monroe, Sr., LB (6-2, 230); Garrett Groulx, Sr., OL/DE (6-2, 245); Sam Hartman, Jr., QB (6-1, 175); Ryan Titus, Sr., OL/LB (6-2, 225); Tommy Lawley, Sr., TE/LB (6-2, 220); Jack Carter, Jr., OL/DL (6-5, 250); Nolan Groulx, So., WR/DB (5-11, 180)

Key Newcomers: Bryan Rogers, Jr., OL (6-5, 300); Connor Beasley, Jr. OL/DL (6-2, 250); Aedon Johnson, Sr., WR/DB (5-11, 175); Keygan Mayfield, Jr., WR/DB (5-9, 165).

Returning Starters: 11

Returning Lettermen: 26

Outlook: The Patriots made a major statement beating Charlotte Latin 31-13 to win their first NCISAA state title at the Division I level. With junior QB Sam Hartman (Wake Forest commit) and a strong defense back, the Patriots have a lot of reasons to believe they can repeat a state champions.

EAST MECKLENBURG

Head Coach: Barry Shuford (3rd Year as East Mecklenburg head coach)

2015 Record: 6-6 (4-2 in the Southwestern 4A conference)

Key Returning Starters: Khamal Howard, Jr., RB (5-10, 190); T.J. Elliott, Sr., LB (6-0, 197); Chris Allen, Sr., DE (6-2, 221); Mathias Poku Kan-Kam, Sr., OG (6-0, 250); Trey Hodge, Jr., FS (5-10, 160); Khalil Gilliam, Jr., QB (6-3, 195).

Key Newcomers: Khalil Woods, Jr., RB (6-0, 180).

Returning Starters: 18

Returning Lettermen: 38

Outlook: After winning seven games in the previous five seasons combined, East Meck had a breakout season in 2015-- and with 18 starters back, led by SW4A conference player of the year RB Khamal Howard and playmaking safety Trey Hodge (6 interceptions), the Eagles believe they contend for a league title.

GARINGER

Head Coach: Melvin Peterson (1st year as Garinger head football coach).

2015 Record: 0-11 (0-6 in Southwestern 4A conference).

Key Returning Starters: Jackie Jones, Jr., OT/DL (6-4, 310); Jamari White, Jr., DE (6-2, 225); Phinius Fields, Sr., OG/DL (5-10, 230); Daveon Ray, Sr., QB (6-2, 215); Kellan Wilson, Sr., DB (5-9, 175); Lance Gibbs, Sr., LB (5-11, 205); Tamara Jn-Marie, Sr., DB (5-11, 155).

Key Newcomers: Anthony Hill, Jr., DB (5-10); Quintell Simmons, Sr., OT (6-5, 305).

Returning Starters: 6

Returning Lettermen: 13

Outlook: The Wildcats have lost 41 straight games, and return six starters for first-year coach Melvin Peterson.

HARDING

Head Coach: Sam Greiner (2nd year as Harding head football coach)

2015 Record: 1-10 (0-7 in the SoMeck8 conference)

Key Returning Starters: Quavaris Crouch, So., RB/LB (6-2, 210); Jaquan Rankins, Jr., RB/WR (5-9, 170); Prince Ngewenah, Jr., DE (6-4, 215); Trayvon Corbett, So., CB (5-9, 175); Michael Hudson, Jr., OT/DT (6-3, 315).

Key Newcomers: N/A

Returning Starters: 11 (6 offense; 5 defense)

Returning Lettermen: 22

Outlook: Second-year Harding head coach Sam Greiner says his team is "bigger, faster and stronger this season," and believes the Rams can make a move up the SoMeck8 conference ladder and contend for a playoff sport with young talent like left tackle Michael Hudson and sophomore RB Quavaris Crouch, leading the charge.

HICKORY GROVE

Head Coach: Mike Pondo (3rd year as Hickory Grove head football coach; 7-15 overall)

2015 Record: 4-7

Key Returning Starters: Alec Parsons, Sr., OL/DL (6-0, 210); Jaylyn Hargett-Boyce, Jr., QB/DB (5-11, 165); Kaleb Johnson, Jr., DB/WR (6-0, 160); Christian Little, Jr., OL/DL (6-4, 250); Caleb Small, Jr., OL/DL (5-10, 230).

Key Newcomers: Hayden Turner, Jr., OL/DL (6-4, 230); Jonathan Goforth, So., OL/LB/FB (5-11, 185); Noah Toadvine, Sr., OL/LB (6-0, 190).

Returning Starters: 12

Returning Lettermen: 20

Outlook: The Lions have had back-to-back losing seasons, but have the experience and size on both lines and a strong senior class to get back above .500 and be a factor in the NCISAA Division II postseason.

HOUGH

Head Coach: Miles Aldridge (3rd year as Hough head coach)

2015 Record: 12-2 (6-0, MECKA 4A conference champions)

Key Returning Starters: Andrew Dziuk, Sr., MLB (6-0, 210); Jackson Gibbs, Sr., QB (6-0, 190); Rashad Williams, Jr., RB (5-7, 170); Jarrett Nagy, Jr., RB/LB (5-10, 190); Zack Stearns, Sr., K/P (6-2, 170); Tyus Fields, So., DB/RB (5-10, 175).

Key Newcomers: N/A

Returning Starters: 5

Returning Lettermen: 10

Outlook: Hough proved they can play with anyone in the state, beating three-time N.C. 4AA state champion Mallard Creek in the regular season. But the Huskies 44-0 playoff loss to the same Mavericks’ team gives them plenty of motivation this season as senior QB Jackson Gibbs and company look to make another run at conference title and go deep into the postseason.

INDEPENDENCE

Head Coach: Scott Young (1st year as Independence head football coach)

2015 Record: 8-5 (5-1 in the Southwestern 4A conference)

Key Returning Starters: Jacob Benfield, Sr., OL/DL, (6-0, 240); Tyrek Smith, Sr., LB (6-0, 220); Noah Ingram, Sr., LB (5-10, 220); Tylon Clawson, Jr., LB (6-0, 215); Xavier Lenear, Sr., OL/DL (5-10, 215).

Key Newcomers: Tyree Davis, Sr., DB (5-9, 165); Carbon Berkovics, Jr., OL (6-2, 265); Xavier Marshall, So., DB (6-1, 185).

Returning Starters: 6

Returning Lettermen: 15

Outlook: The entire Independence community and team is rallying around new head coach Scott Young, who had a heart transplant in May. While Young is a proven winner (at West Rowan), the Patriots return only six starters, which will make winning right away a huge challenge from the opening game at Dutch Fork (SC), led by former Independence coach, Tom Knotts.

LAKE NORMAN CHARTER

Head Coach: Mark Steele (3rd year as Lake Norman Charter head football coach; 7-16 overall)

2015 Record: 4-7, 2-5 in the Big South conference

Key Returning Starters: Teddy Spooner, Sr., QB/DB (6-0, 180); Matt Scott, Sr., WR/DB (6-2, 170); Sean Dugan, Sr., RB/DB (5-10, 195); Matthew Francomano, Sr., DB/RB (5-9, 165).

Key Newcomers: N/A

Returning Starters: 4

Returning Lettermen: 10

Outlook: The Knights have struggled since joining the Big South conference, and with only four starters back, moving up the league standings will be a difficult task even with a tight-knit team led by senior QB Teddy Spooner.

MALLARD CREEK

Head Coach: Mike Palmieri (10th year as Mallard Creek head football coach)

2015 Record: 14-2 (5-1 in the MECKA 4A conference)

Key Returning Starters: Ryan Jones, Sr., WR (6-3, 220); Grant Gibson, Sr., C/DL (6-2, 285); Travaris Moores, Sr., OL (6-6, 285); Eric Douglas, Sr., OL (6-5, 290); Darnell Walker, Sr., RB (5-10, 215); Kalen Allen, Sr., MLB (6-1, 230); Isaac Hampton, Sr., DL (6-2, 265); Larry Matkins, Sr., LB (6-2, 220); Deonte Grier, Sr., CB (5-10, 175).

Key Newcomers: Chauncey Caldwell, Sr., QB (6-2, 220); Cameren Lowery, Jr., LB (6-0, 235); Jacobe Clement, Sr., CB (6-1, 180).

Returning Starters: 11 (5 offense; 6 defense)

Returning Lettermen: 46

Outlook: The three-time, defending 4AA state champion Mavericks’ goal is to "end every year with a ring," according to Coach Mike Palmieri. With another loaded roster, led by senior WR Ryan Jones (North Carolina commit), and senior linemen Grant Gibson (N.C. State) and Eric Douglas (South Carolina commit), Mallard Creek (46-3 in the last three seasons) will be the favorite to win it all again.

MYERS PARK

Head Coach: Scott Chadwick (3rd year as Myers Park head football coach; 124-75 overall)

2015 Record: 7-6 (3-3 in the Southwestern 4A conference)

Key Returning Starters: Jack Davidson, Sr., QB (6-3, 220); Ben Norris, Sr., LB (6-3, 225); JaMykal Neal, Sr., OL/DL (6-3, 290); Said Patrick, Sr., WR/DB; Tyler Hewitt, Sr., OL (6-3, 265); Nate Urrestta, Sr., MLB (5-11, 205); Damien Vines, Sr., DT (6-2, 265); Cory Mobley, Sr., DL (6-2, 240); Conner Collins, Jr., C (6-4, 250); Tyler Dameron, Jr., K (5-11, 175).

Key Newcomers: Elijah Bowick, So. WR (6-2, 180); Juwan Truesdale, So., LT (6-5, 240); Jaylen Nichols, So., RT (6-4, 265).

Returning Starters: 11 (7 offense; 4 defense)

Returning Lettermen: N/A

Outlook: The Mustangs made progress in year two of coach Scott Chadwick’s tenure going from five to seven wins, including an upset victory at Mooresville in the playoffs. This season, Myers Park has the talent, led by senior QB, Jack Davidson (led league in passing), and experienced lines on both sides of the ball to be a major player in the SW4A conference race and into the postseason.

NORTH MECKLENBURG

Head Coach: Brad Baker (5th year as North Mecklenburg head coach)

2015 Record: 7-5 (3-3 in MECKA 4A conference)

Key Returning Starters: Kalvin McCollum, Sr., LB/SS (6-3, 210); Tre Turner, Sr., DE/TE (6-5, 220); K.J. Buford, Sr., WR/DB (6-1, 165); Emanuel Wilson, Jr., RB (6-0, 215); Nyree Hardy, Sr., WR (5-11, 180).

Key Newcomers: Jaelan Anderson, Sr., QB (6-3, 200); Yancey Hairston, Jr., DE/TE (6-5, 225).

Returning Starters: 10 (6 offense; 4 defense).

Returning Lettermen: 29

Outlook: After winning just nine games combined in his first three seasons at North Meck, Coach Brad Baker and the Vikings made a major step forward going 7-5 last year. With playmakers like junior RB, Emanuel Wilson and senior LB Kalvin McCollum back to lead the way, the Vikings be able to stay near the top of the MECKA 4A standings again this season.

NORTHSIDE CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Greg Tally (2nd Year as Northside Christian head football coach)

2015 Record: 1-8

Key Returning Starters: Tyshawn Miller, Sr., OL/DL (6-1, 250); Tanner Tally, Sr., SS/ATH (6-1, 182); James Kostrzynski, Jr., DE/TE (6-1, 220); Blake Ferguson, So., LB/C (6-0, 200).

Key Newcomers: Indiana Moen, Fr., TE (6-1, 195); Elijah Fitchue, Sr., (5-11, 175); Elijah Johnson, So., QB (5-11, 170); Isaiah Nathaniel, RB/CB (5-10, 170).

Returning Starters: 12

Returning Lettermen: 14

Outlook: The Knights took their lumps in their first year as a program winning one game, the season opener over Fayetteville Christian. But Coach Greg Tally has an athletic team -- led by seniors, OL/DL, Tyshawn Miller and SS/ATH, Tanner Tally – that is capable of taking another step forward this season.

OLYMPIC

Head Coach: Keith Wilkes (3rd Year as Olympic head football coach)

2015 Record: 5-7 (3-4 in the SoMeck8 conference)

Key Returning Starters: Isaiah Boswell, Sr., WR (6-2, 180); David Boggs, Sr., WR (5-8, 150); Tyler Massey, Sr., LB/SS (6-0, 195); Elias Crawford, Jr., DB (6-0, 175); Isaiah Robinson, Sr., OT/DT (6-2, 270); Dylan Earney, Jr., QB (6-4, 170).

Key Newcomers: N/A

Returning Starters: 12 (7 offense; 5 defense)

Returning Lettermen: N/A

Outlook: The Trojans’ Wing-T offense makes them a difficult matchup each week, and they will lean on that side of the ball including an experienced offensive front early, while looking for a younger defense to develop as they try to move into upper half of a brutal, SoMeck8 conference.

PROVIDENCE

Head Coach: Brad Bowles (2nd year as Providence head football coach)

2015 Record: 5-6 (4-3 in the SoMeck8 conference)

Key Returning Starters: Drake DeIuliis, Sr., TE (6-6, 220); Blake Proehl, Sr., WR/DB (6-1, 165); Mayowa Ogunmola, RB/DL (6-0, 235); Caleb Bellamy, Sr, DB (5-9, 155); Bryce DeIuliis, Sr., OL (6-2, 245).

Key Newcomers: Nate Kibambe, Jr. RB (5-11, 180); Harrison Poe, Sr., RB, (5-8, 160); Worth Page, Sr., LB (6-1, 200)

Returning Starters: 9

Returning Lettermen: N/A

Outlook: Providence had some moments last season, including a season-opening victory at Summerville (SC). But the Panthers will have put more points on the board if they are going to contend in always competitive, SoMeck8 conference and into the postseason.

PROVIDENCE DAY

Head Coach: Adam Hastings (2nd year as Providence Day head coach; 42-23 overall)

2015 Record: 6-4 (2-1 in the CISAA conference)

Key Returning Starters: Gabe Montgomery, Sr., RB (5-9, 210); Madison Young, Sr., DB (6-0, 185); Arman Azad, Sr., DE (6-2, 220); Greg Truong, Sr., OL (5-10, 210); Elijiah Brown, Jr., DL/OL (6-4, 270).

Key Newcomers: Osita Ekwonu, Jr., LB/RB (6-1, 190); Hudson Reynolds, So., OL (6-2, 200).

Returning Starters: 13

Returning Lettermen: 35

Outlook: The Chargers made strides in the brutal CISAA conference in Hastings’ first year in charge, and have the talent led by senior RB Gabe Montgomery to contend for a league title and more this season.

ROCKY RIVER

Head Coach: Jason Fowler (6th year as Rocky River head coach; 36-37 overall)

2015 Record: 4-7 (3-3 in the Southwestern 4A)

Key Returning Starters: Kendall Lewis, Sr., WR/DB (6-1, 195); Elijah Henry, Sr., RB/ATH (5-10, 175); Tyshawn Carter, Sr., QB (5-10, 165); Phillip Clay, Sr., SS (6-0, 190); Tyrek Haywood, Sr., DE (6-5, 235).

Key Newcomers: Justice Styron, Sr., RB (5-10, 195); Jaylen Sharpe, So., LB (6-1, 220); Kentrale Groom, Jr., LB (6-1, 220).

Returning Starters: 12

Returning Lettermen: 20

Outlook: After winning 20 in the previous two seasons, the Ravens took a step backwards in 2015 with just four wins. With 12 starters back, including QB Tyshawn Carter and RB Elijah Henry, they look to climb back up the SW4A standings and become factor in the postseason.

SOUTHLAKE CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Mike Causey (2nd year as SouthLake Christian head football coach)

2015 Record: 3-5 (as a J.V. team)

Key Returning Starters: Sam VanWingerden, Sr., OL/DL (6-4, 250); Roman Rubrecht, Sr., WR (6-1, 180); Sam Storie, Jr., C (6-1, 220); Bailey Jones, Jr., QB (5-10, 170).

Key Newcomers: Will Huss, Jr., RB (5-10, 195).

Returning Starters: 8

Returning Lettermen: 15

Outlook: The Eagles won back-to-back state championships in 2013 and 2014 (going 34-4 in that span), but just fielded a junior varsity team last year. This year, Coach Mike Causey says he is "extremely excited to get the (varsity) program back on track," and has the young talent to make an impact.

SOUTH MECKLENBURG

Head Coach: Rocky White (5th year as South Mecklenburg head football coach; 47-59 overall).

2015 Record: 9-3 (5-2 in the SoMeck8 conference)

Key Returning Starters: Jake Lawler, Sr., DE/TE (6-5, 230); Antonio Wallace, Sr., QB (6-3, 180); Josh McNeely, Sr., WR/DB (5-10, 165); Travis Prince, Sr., RB (5-10, 185); Holden Parker, Sr., LB (5-10, 190); Jon Doerer, Sr., K/P (6-3, 175).

Key Newcomers: Angel Rivera, Jr., DE/TE (6-3, 225); DeAngelo Blair, Jr., RB/LB (5-11, 220); Jalen Weddington, Jr., DB/WR (5-11, 185/Vance transfer); Adam George, Jr., OL (6-5, 295); Nick Wilson, Sr., OL/DL (6-0, 320).

Returning Starters: 12

Returning Lettermen: 25

Outlook: The Sabres have improved their record in each year of Coach Rocky White’s tenure. With a strong senior class, led by DE Jake Lawler, three-year starting QB, Antonio Wallace and RB Travis Prince, the South Meck is eager to challenge for Charlotte Catholic for a conference title and make a playoff run.

VANCE

Head Coach: Aaron Brand (3rd year as Vance head football coach)

2015 Record: 6-6 (2-4 in the MECKA 4A)

Key Returning Starters: Kingsley Ifedi, Sr., QB (6-4, 215); Jeremiah Hall, Sr., HB/RB (6-3, 225); Darien Reynolds, Sr., LB/S (6-0, 205); Nate Jones, Sr., TE/DE (6-4, 215); Damir Faison, Jr., DE (6-2, 215); Xavier Williams, Jr., DB (5-10, 175).

Key Newcomers: Michael Roberts, Sr., WR (6-4, 205).

Returning Starters: 6

Returning Lettermen: 30

Outlook: The Cougars were within one score of beating both Mallard Creek (4AA state champion/lost 22-21) and Charlotte Catholic (4A state champion/lost in double overtime in playoffs) and dramatically changing their season. This year, Vance will have to reload a team that lost 16 starters, but has some big-time players in seniors QB Kingsley Ifedi (East Carolina commit) and senior HB/RB Jeremiah Hall (Oklahoma commit) to help be a major factor in the league race and in the postseason.

VICTORY CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Leon White (2nd year as Victory Christian head football coach)

2015 Record: 2-7

Key Returning Starters: Gregory Smith, Sr., WR/CB (5-10, 180); Kory Oliver, Sr., OL/DL (6-3, 300); Timothy Baten, Sr., DL/LB/TE/QB (6-6, 285); Trey Pratt, Sr., OL/DL (6-0, 270); Michael Green, Sr., OL/DL (6-2, 310); Jordan Spencer, Sr., CB/WR (6-0, 220); Joshua Brockman, So., WR/CB (5-10, 165); Travion Smith, So., WR/CB (5-8, 135); Justin

Cherry, So., LB/NT/RB (5-5, 215).

Key Newcomers: Eric Davis, Sr., LB/TE (6-1, 235); Justice Nelson, Jr., WR/LB (5-7, 155); Brent White, Fr., RB/WR/DB (5-7, 145).

Returning Starters: 9

Returning Lettermen: 9

Outlook: After winning 22 games from 2012 to 2014, the Kings struggled to put points on the board last season, resulting in only two wins. But Coach Leon White believes his team will be much improved this year with a more experienced roster, led by seniors, Timothy Baten, Kory Oliver and Gregory Smith.

WEST CHARLOTTE

Head Coach: Daren Hart (2nd year as West Charlotte head football coach)

2015 Record: 2-9 (1-6 in the MECKA 4A conference)

Key Returning Starters: Jerko’Ya Patton, Sr., RB/LB (5-10, 185); Jacory Reaves, Sr., WR/DB (6-2, 200); Jordan Stevenson, Sr., WR (6-0, 175); Chris Taylor-Williams, Sr., LB (5-11, 185); Jaylon Blakeney, Sr., DB/WR (6-2, 185).

Key Newcomers: Chris Washington, Sr., RB/LB (5-10, 185).

Returning Starters: 10 (5 offense; 5 defense)

Returning Lettermen: 14

Outlook: Last season was a tough for the Lions after the passing of their former coach, Mo Collins. Coach Daren Hart and his West Charlotte believe they can move up the brutal, MECKA 4A conference standings with players like seniors RB Jerko’Ya Patton (7.5 yards per carry) and WR Jacory Reaves, leading the team.

WEST MECKLENBURG

Head Coach: Jarvis Davis (1st year as West Mecklenburg head football coach)

2015 Record: 5-7 (3-4 in the SoMeck8 conference)

Key Returning Starters: Richard Latimer, Sr, QB (6-2, 185); Dyami Brown, Jr., RB/DB (6-2, 185); Tikwan Johnson, Sr., RB/WR/DB (5-10, 170); Trajan McQueen, Sr., LB (6-2, 225); Tyler Barnes, Jr., WR (6-4, 190); Justin Fields, Sr., DB/WR (5-8, 150).

Key Newcomers: Khafre Brown, So., WR/DB (6-0, 155); Christopher Neal, Jr.

Returning Starters: 13

Returning Lettermen: N/A

Outlook: Coach Jarvis Davis takes over a Hawks’ team that showed it was capable of hanging with top teams in the SoMeck8 conference when they upset, South Mecklenburg last season.

With 13 starters back, including players in senior QB, Richard Latimer, junior RB/WR Dyami Brown and senior RB, Tikwan Johnson, West Meck believes they can be a factor in the conference race and contend for a playoff berth. 

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS  

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/high-school/article88886962.html#storylink=cpy

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