Prep Insider Blog

Gaston County high school football previews

South Point's Nick Farmer, center, celebrates his interception of a pass meant for Rocky Mount wide receiver Kevjorick Edwards, right, during action on Saturday, December 17, 2016 at BB&T Field on the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. South Point defeated Rocky Mount 16-7 to win the 3A Championship.
South Point's Nick Farmer, center, celebrates his interception of a pass meant for Rocky Mount wide receiver Kevjorick Edwards, right, during action on Saturday, December 17, 2016 at BB&T Field on the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. South Point defeated Rocky Mount 16-7 to win the 3A Championship. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Here are high school football previews for Gaston County, compiled by Observer correspondent Jay Edwards

PREVIEW LINKS

Preseason All-State Team Released

Observer-area County previews

2017 high school football schedules

ASHBROOK

Head Coach: Brian Andrews (1st year as Ashbrook football coach).

2016 Record (Conference): 4-8 (3-4 in the Big South conference).

2017 Conference: Big South conference/3A.

Returning Starters: 10

Returning Lettermen: 10

Key Returning Starters: British Brooks, Sr., RB (5-10, 185); Hayden Welle, Sr., QB (6-0, 187); Antwan McClee, Jr., FB/LB (6-1, 230); Bobby Watson, Sr., LB (5-11, 165); Daquan Brown, Jr., DT (6-3, 250)

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Former South Point assistant (part of three state championships), Brian Andrews, takes over an Ashbrook team with a strong senior class (15 seniors) and some major pieces, including seniors, RB British Brooks (1,253 yards rushing, 17 touchdowns) and QB Hayden Welle. The Green Wave believe they can make a move up the Big South standings and get into better playoff position.

--JAY EDWARDS

BESSEMER CITY

Head Coach: Larry Boone (14th year as Bessemer City football coach/65-92 overall).

2016 Record (Conference): 9-4 (5-1 in the South Piedmont 1A conference).

2017 Conference: Piedmont Athletic conference (PAC) 7.

Returning Starters: 12 (6 offense; 6 defense).

Returning Lettermen: 25

Key Returning Starters: Emanuel Bido, Sr., OL (6-3, 245); Tre Corry, Sr., OL (6-0, 320); Brandon Gunter, Jr., DL (6-1, 180); Bruce Gunter, Jr., DL/LB (6-2, 180); Jay Sadler, Sr., DB (6-4, 160).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Yellow Jackets made a big jump from four wins in 2015 to a 9-4 campaign last season. This year, with 12 starters back, they look to keep the momentum going and will look to a stout defense (allowed 13 points per game) -- led by senior DL, Tre Corry (51 tackles, 15 tackles for loss) and junior DL’s Bruce (92 tackles, 35 tackles for loss, 12 sacks) and Brandon Gunter (92 tackles, 32 tackles for loss, nine sacks) – while the offense reloads and gains the confidence to again be a conference contender and make a playoff run.

--JAY EDWARDS

CHERRYVILLE

Head Coach: Tim Pruitt (2nd year as Cherryville football coach/49-82 overall)

2016 Record (Conference): 3-9 (3-2 in the South Piedmont 1A conference).

2017 Conference: Piedmont Athletic Conference (PAC) 7.

Returning Starters: 12

Returning Lettermen: 18

Key Returning Starters: Ben Deviney, Sr., LB (6-2, 275); J’son Pitts, Jr., LB (5-10, 175); Sean Kostiuk, Jr., LB/OG (6-0, 180); John Crain, Jr., RT (6-4, 290); Chapel Moss, Jr., FB (6-0, 190); Justin Lemmons, Jr., HB (5-9, 160); Jacob Harden, Sr., QB (6-1, 165); Quay Fleurine, Jr., FS (6-0, 160).

Key Newcomers: Andrew Beam, So., LB (6-0, 190).

Outlook: The Ironmen have struggled in recent years with only eight wins combined in last three seasons. But Coach Tim Pruitt says interest in the program is way up as 47 players participated in spring practice. With 12 starters back, led by all-conference LT Ben Deviney and LB J’son Pitts, Cherryville has reasons to believe they can be a bigger factor in the PAC 7 conference race.

--JAY EDWARDS

EAST GASTON

Head Coach: Sean Joyce (7th year as East Gaston football coach/24-42).

2016 Record (Conference): 3-8 (2-5 in the Big South conference).

2017 Conference: Southwestern 2A (SW2A).

Returning Starters: 10

Returning Lettermen: 12

Key Returning Starters: Landon Van Dyke, Sr., OL/DL (6-3, 272); Chase Blackburn, Sr., DL/HB (6-2, 240); Cody Johnson, Sr., OL (6-3, 255); Kellen Wilbanks, Sr., OL (6-1, 280); Jay Gwinn, Sr., LB (5-11, 170); Kobe Creamer, So., QB (5-10, 160); K.J. Dagout, So., WR (6-0, 165).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: East Gaston moves into the tough, SW2A conference, where the Warriors look to be more competitive with experienced offensive/defensive fronts, led by all-conference performer, Landon Van Dyke (73 tackles, five sacks), Chase Blackburn, and Kellen Wilbanks. East Gaston should get better as the season progresses as sophomore QB, Kobe Creamer, gains confidence.

--JAY EDWARDS

FORESTVIEW

Head Coach: Chris Medlin (11th year as Forestview football coach/70-54).

2016 Record (Conference): 7-5 (5-2 in the Big South conference).

2017 Conference: Big South conference/3A.

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

Returning Lettermen: 28

Key Returning Starters: Jake Lee, Jr., QB (5-10, 175); Jacob Ash, Jr., LB (5-11, 175); Holt Cloninger, So., K (5-9, 180); Cole Kelchner, Jr., OL (6-3, 250); Aveon Reid, Sr., DB (6-1, 180); Anthony Nance, Sr., DB (6-3, 165); Cameron Bame, Jr., LB (5-9, 185).

Key Newcomers: Anthony Bennett, Sr.; Turner Edwards, Jr., LB (5-10, 215); Gabe Duff.

Outlook: The Jaguars believe they can contend in the Big South conference, but need a young team to grow up quickly to be a factor in the league. Junior QB, Jake Lee and his classmate, Jacob Ash (61 tackles), will play major roles in their team success as leaders on each side of the ball as Forestview looks to be a major player in both the league race and into the postseason.

--JAY EDWARDS

HIGHLAND TECH

Head Coach: Darren Shepherd (2nd year as Highland Tech football coach).

2016 Record (Conference): 1-10 (0-6 in the South Piedmont 1A conference (SPC 1A)).

2017 Conference: Piedmont Athletic conference (PAC) 7/1A.

Returning Starters: 11 (7 offense; 4 defense).

Returning Lettermen: 18

Key Returning Starters: Gavin Davis, Sr., CB/WR; Caleb Hill, Jr., QB/ATH (5-10, 165); Alex Hardin, Jr., G/NT (6-1, 280); Wiley Van Martin, Jr., QB/CB (5-10, 160); Jeremiah Wallace, Jr., RB (5-8, 160); Bryson Law, So. RB (5-8, 150); Kobe Christian, So., WR (6-2, 180).

Key Newcomers: Drew Burton, Jr., DB/WR (5-10, 160); Keon Kennedy, Jr., DT/G (6-0, 235).

Outlook: The Rams struggled again last year, going 1-10 while scoring just 47 points. But Coach Darren Shepherd will look to build on Highland Tech’s 2nd win in six seasons with 11 starters back -- led by all-conference senior, WR/DB, Gavin Davis, junior NT/G Alex Hardin – and his team believing they can compete in the new PAC 7 conference. But the Rams will have to prove they can but points on the board if they are going to get in the win column more frequently.

--JAY EDWARDS

HUNTER HUSS

Head Coach: Jamal McKoy (4th year as Hunter Huss football coach).

2016 Record (Conference): 10-4 (7-0 in the Big South conference).

2017 Conference: Big South conference/3A.

Returning Starters: 15

Returning Lettermen: 8

Key Returning Starters: Anthony Davis, Jr. ATH (6-2, 187); Crawford Chandler, Sr., QB (5-10, 190); Prince Bemah, Jr., Rover (6-1, 210); Marcus Mauney, Jr., OL (6-3, 215); Dallas Danner, Sr., RB (5-10, 205): Tez Price, Sr., DB (6-1, 175); Nigel Hatten, Jr., OL/DL (6-2, 255); Zo Wallace, So., QB (6-2, 195); Nick Wiggins, Sr., OL (6-0, 270); Isaiah Brown, Sr., OL/DL (6-0, 260); Chase Nixon, Sr., FS (6-2, 190).

Key Newcomers: Dondre Burris, Jr., FB/DL (5-9, 240); Tyson Danner, Jr., Slot (5-8, 150); Anthony Dye, So., LB (5-10, 190); Kendall Corey, Fr., ATH (5-10, 160); Dontavious Nash, Fr., ATH (6-1, 170).

Outlook: The Huskies took a huge step with their first winning season in a decade with 10 wins and a Big South conference title. This year, Huss will have a tough task with Crest and Kings Mountain in the league, but have 15 starters back -- led by RB Dallas Danner (821 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns), ATH Anthony Davis, Rover, Prince Bemah and QB Crawford Chandler -- to help contend for a conference title, and make a move in the postseason.

--JAY EDWARDS

MOUNTAIN ISLAND CHARTER

Head Coach: Robert Washington (3rd year as Mtn. Island Charter head coach)

2016 Record (Conference): 10-4 (2-3)

2017 Conference: Piedmont Athletic Conference (PAC) 7 (new conference)/1A

Returning Starters: 12

Returning Lettermen: 10

Key Returning Starters: Kyle Holcomb, Sr., QB (5-11, 170); C.J. Stephens, Sr., ATH (6-1, 185); Elijah Burris, So., RB (5-10, 205); Michael Spivey, Sr., LB (5-10, 205); Bryson Howell, Jr., S (6-1, 170); Maurice Evans, Sr., LB (6-0, 240).

Key Newcomers: Gabe Stephens, Fr., WR (6-1, 180); Christian Hunter, Fr., CB (5-6, 140); Jaden Robinson, Fr., ATH (5-6, 140).

Outlook: The Raptors have improved each season in the short history of the program winning 10 games last year. This year, Coach Robert Washington believes his team with 12 starters back, including senior QB Kyle Holcomb (3,136 yards passing, 40 touchdown passes last year) and an opportunistic defense led by DB C.J. Stephens (three pick sixes last year), LB Michael Spivey (130 tackles) can win their new conference, PAC 7, and be a factor in the 1A playoffs.

--JAY EDWARDS

NORTH GASTON

Head Coach: Mike Patton (6th year as North Gaston football coach /17-49 overall).

2016 Record (Conference): 1-10 (0-7 in the Big South conference).

2017 Conference: Big South conference/3A.

Returning Starters: 10 (5 offense; 5 defense).

Returning Lettermen: 18

Key Returning Starters: Ethan Costner, Sr., LB/FB (5-11, 190); Isaiah McNeil, Jr., QB (6-2, 185); Arthur Kennedy, Sr., RB (5-6, 140); Michael Watson, Sr., OL/DL (6-4, 270).

Key Newcomers: Justin Donovant, So., DL.

Outlook: The Wildcats lost their final seven games last season and have not had a winning record in a decade now. While life isn’t getting any easier in the Big South conference, North Gaston has playmakers like, junior QB, Isaiah McNeil, and senior, LB, Ethan Costner (106 tackles) to be more competitive in 2017.

--JAY EDWARDS

SOUTH POINT

Head Coach: Adam Hodge (1st year as South Point head football coach, 13 years as assistant/former South Point offensive lineman).

2016 Record (Conference): 12-4, 6-1 (3A state champions)

2017 Conference: Southwestern 2A

Returning Starters: 14

Returning Lettermen: 26

Key Returning Starters: Jake Alexander, Sr., FB (6-2, 200); Matthew Robinson, Sr., LB/DE (6-3, 210); Phillip Davis, Sr. DL (6-1, 315); Scottie Lee, Sr., QB (6-2, 160); Nate Hamilton, Sr., LB (6-1, 205); Ray Grier, So., SE/LB (6-3, 190); Larry Dowdy, Jr., OL (6-4, 250); Ethan Jackson, Sr., OL (5-10, 195).

Key Newcomers: Nick Gange, So., RB/DB (6-2, 185); C.J. Jennings, So., RB/DB (6-0, 165).

Outlook: The Red Raiders turned a 1-3 start into a 3A state championship run last season. While former South Point offensive lineman, assistant coach, Adam Hodge, takes over for Mickey Lineberger, nothing will change in the Red Raiders’ "blue collar," approach as they will continue to run right at opponents, and with FB Jake Alexander (1806 yards rushing, 20 touchdowns), QB Scottie Lee, back to lead the way on team that expects to compete to conference and state championships every year.

--JAY EDWARDS

STUART CRAMER

Head Coach: Brad McMillan (5th year as Stuart Cramer football coach/13-21).

2016 Record (Conference): 7-5 (4-3 in the Big South conference).

2017 Conference: Big South conference/3A.

Returning Starters: 10

Returning Lettermen: 18

Key Returning Starters: Robert Truesdale, Sr., LB (5-11, 195); Jaylen Rocquemore, Sr., QB (6-3, 210); Adam Hannibal, Sr., DL (5-10, 210); Dylan Collins, Sr., DE (6-3, 200); Landon Helton, Sr., DB (6-0, 160); Kaiser Kayton, Jr., RB (5-11, 185); Jackson Concannon, FILL, OL (6-2, 240); Denorrian Lindsay, Jr., WR/RB (5-10, 165); Devon Bain, Sr., OL (6-3, 250).

Key Newcomers: Tyrese Morris, So., RB (5-9, 165; Jack Hough, Jr., OL (6-3, 325); Kendall Karr, So., TE (6-4, 210); Devan Polk, Jr., LB (6-0, 195); Montana Gardner, Sr., DL (6-0 275).

Outlook: The Storm will have another suffocating defense with four-year senior starters in LB Robert Truesdale (165 tackles), DL Adam Hannibal (107 tackles, 16.5 sacks) and DE Dylan Collins (84 tackles, 12.5 sacks) leading the unit. Coming off a program-best, seven-win season, Stuart Cramer believes they can compete in the brutal, Big South conference, but will need QB Jaylen Rocquemore, RB Kaiser Kayton, to make more big plays if they are going to a contender in the conference race and a factor past the opening round of the playoffs.

--JAY EDWARDS

  Comments