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Burke County high school football previews

Here are Burke County high school football previews, as compiled by Observer correspondent Jay Edwards

PREVIEW LINKS

Preseason All-State Team Released

Observer-area County previews

BURKE PREVIEWS

DRAUGHN

Head Coach: Scott Lambert (8th year as Draughn football coach/28-52 overall).

2016 Record (Conference): 2-9 (1-7 in the South Mountain Athletic conference).

2017 Conference: Northwest Foothills 2A conference.

Returning Starters: 10

Returning Lettermen: 16

Key Returning Starters: Will Viggers, Sr., OL/DL (6-3, 290); Derrick Monroe, Sr., OL/DL (6-1, 215); Kimoni Money, Sr., WR/DB (5-11, 175); Christian Campbell, Sr., RB/LB (6-1, 185); Griffin Martin, Jr., OL/DL (5-10, 195); Matt Harman, Sr., RB/LB (5-9, 165); Caleb Bias, Sr., RB/LB (5-9, 205); Stephen Lipford, Sr., RB/LB (5-9, 185).

Key Newcomers: Tyler McKinney, Jr., QB/DB (5-11, 180); Devantae Reid, Jr., RB/DB (6-0, 180); Daniel Melton, Jr., RB/LB (5-10, 180); Colton Singleton, Jr., TE/LB (6-2, 205).

Outlook: Draughn hasn’t had a winning season since 2011, and lost nine of their final games last year to finish 2-9. But the Wildcats have some reasons for optimism as they return 10 starters on what will be a physical team -- led by three-time, all-conference OL/DL, senior Will Viggers – that has the work ethic to get back in the win column often and into the playoff picture.

--JAY EDWARDS

EAST BURKE

Head Coach: Mark Buffamoyer (1st year as East Burke football coach).

2016 Record (Conference): 2-9 (2-6 in the South Mountain Athletic conference).

2017 Conference: Northwest Foothills 2A conference.

Returning Starters: 6 (4 offense; 2 defense).

Returning Lettermen: N/A.

Key Returning Starters: Jon Palmer, Sr., OL (6-2, 295); Josh Langer, Sr., OL (6-3, 265); Grant Fulbright, Sr., WR/DB (5-8, 165); Colby Stroud, Sr., LB (6-0, 200); Ayden Lail, Sr., WR (6-1, 170).

Key Newcomers: Josh Moore, So., RB (6-0, 170); Seth Pruitt, So., QB (5-11, 175); Chase Childers, So., RB (5-8, 165).

Outlook: East Burke had had only one winning season in last seven years (8-6 in 2015), which doesn’t bode well for first-year coach, Mark Buffamoyer (East Burke defensive coordinator), with only six starters back from a team that averaged only 11 points per game. But Coach Buffamoyer and company believe they can be more competitive in the new, Northwest Foothills 2A conference, but will need some standouts to emerge on a young team.

--JAY EDWARDS

FREEDOM

Head Coach: Jim Bob Bryant (1st year as Freedom football coach/14 years overall (160-35)).

2016 Record (Conference): 6-6 (4-3 in the Northwestern 3A/4A).

2017 Conference: Northwestern 3A/4A (3A).

Returning Starters: 11

Returning Letterman: 17

Key Returning Starters: C.J. Hayden, Jr., RB/WR/DB (5-8, 160); Tristan Somerville, Sr., RB/DB (5-11, 161); James Boyd, Jr., OL (6-0, 287); Justin Fortune, Sr., OL (6-0, 269); Kelvis Dula, Sr., WR/DB (5-11, 173).

Key Newcomers: Jayden Birchfield, So., QB (6-1, 175); Jee Hardy, Jr., RB/LB (5-11, 185); Jaxon McMahon, Jr., WR/DB (5-10, 160).

Outlook: After averaging 11 wins per season from 2010 to 2015, the Patriots came back to earth with just six wins in 2016. Now, the challenge for first-year, Freedom head coach, Jim Bob Bryant, who won three state titles at Havelock (two-time Associated Press N.C. coach of the year), is get his team back on top of the Northwestern 3A/4A conference and more. Just how good Freedom can be this season will depend on how fast playmakers like junior RB, C.J. Hayden (1,067 yards rushing, 18 touchdowns), promising sophomore QB, Jayden Birchfield adjust to their new offense/defensive schemes.

--JAY EDWARDS

PATTON

Head Coach: Tom Eanes (4th year as Patton football coach/13-23 at Patton).

2016 Record (Conference): 8-5 (4-3 in the Northwestern 3A/4A).

2017 Conference: Northwest Foothills 2A.

Returning Starters: 9 (4 offense; 5 defense).

Returning Lettermen: 24

Key Returning Starters: Joe Eakin, Sr., QB (5-10, 175); William Brawley, Sr., B-Back/LB (5-11, 190); Ty Causby, Sr., A-Back/LB (5-11, 160); Matt Anders, Sr., OL/DL (5-11, 245); Clayton Greene, Sr., LB/TE (5-11, 165); Mason Streppa, Jr., DB (5-10, 165); Travis Alvis, Sr., DL/OL (6-1, 180); Cody Davis, Sr., DE/WR (6-3, 190).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Panthers have made a steady climb under Coach Tom Eanes, winning one game in 2014, four in 2015 and had eight wins last season. Patton returns one of the best rushing duos in the state in all-conference seniors, QB Joe Eakin (2,152 yards rushing/29 touchdowns) and B-Back, William Brawley (1,571 yards rushing, 14 touchdowns) as they look to run their way to being a conference contender and a dangerous postseason matchup with their punishing running game.

--JAY EDWARDS

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