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Cabarrus County high school football previews

AL Brown head football coach Mike Newsome will see his team leave a league of Mecklenburg County 4A teams and return to a 3A league of mostly Cabarrus County teams in 2017
AL Brown head football coach Mike Newsome will see his team leave a league of Mecklenburg County 4A teams and return to a 3A league of mostly Cabarrus County teams in 2017 rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Cabarrus County high school football previews, compiled by Observer correspondent Jay Edwards

PREVIEW LINKS

Preseason All-State Team Released

Observer-area County previews

2017 high school football schedules

A.L. BROWN

Head Coach: Mike Newsome (7th Year as A.L. Brown head coach) (54-24 at A.L. Brown; 148-41 overall).

2016 Record (Conference): 9-4 (4-2 in the MECKA 4A).

2017 Conference: South Piedmont Conference (SPC)/3A.

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

Returning Lettermen: 33

Key Returning Starters: Jordan Medley, Jr., QB/DB; Equarius Baldwin, Sr., RB (5-10, 160);

Cordarius Butler, Sr., QB (6-1, 180); Justin Rodgers, Sr., TE/LB (6-2, 200); Omari White, Sr., DB (6-0, 180); Jeremy Davis, Sr., OL/DL (6-0, 260); Malachi Lyles, Sr., OL/DL (6-0), 270); Najee Williams, Sr., DE (6-1, 200); C.C. Huntley, Sr., DL (5-11, 240); Brian Gutteriz, Sr., K (5-10, 180).

Key Newcomers: Nick Lyerly, Jr., Slot (5-8, 175); Jaran Cooper, Jr., RB (6-1, 210); B.J. Foster, So., OL/LB (6-2, 230); Justin Holsclaw, Jr., LB (6-2, 200); Jatarius Mason, So., OL (6-1, 240); Kendrick Bingley-Jones, So., DL (6-5, 230).

Outlook: The Wonders had plenty of success at the 4A level, winning 19 games in the last two years, but now they return to the all-Cabarrus County, SPC, where they were a perennial state power. Coach Mike Newsome and company will have to rely on a young core on both sides of the ball. The Wonders have several all-conference playmakers upfront, including seniors, OL/DL Jeremy Davis, Malachi Lyles and DE, Najee Williams (24 tackles for loss, 10 sacks last year) to a be serious SPC contender and a dangerous playoff matchup as the team gains experience and confidence.

--JAY EDWARDS

CABARRUS STALLIONS

Head Coach: David Whichard (1st year as Cabarrus Stallions’ football coach/Defensive coordinator previous four seasons).

2016 Record (Conference): 5-4 (5-2 in the Pioneer Football League).

2017 Conference: Pioneer Football League.

Returning Starters: 8

Returning Lettermen: N/A.

Key Returning Starters: Silas Wertz, Sr., QB.

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Cabarrus Stallions were Pioneer Football League runner-up in 2015, but were up and down last year at 5-4. This season, senior QB Silas Wertz headlines eight returning starters as they look to put the Stallions back into PFL championship contention.

--JAY EDWARDS

CANNON SCHOOL

Head Coach: Brad Hoover (3rd year as Cannon School football coach/12-12 at Cannon School, 22-27 overall).

2016 Record (Conference): 6-6 (3-3)

2017 Conference: NCISAA Piedmont Athletic conference (PAC) 6/NCISAA Division II

Returning Starters: 14

Returning Lettermen: 28

Key Returning Starters: Will Exson, Sr., DB/WR (6-1, 180); Gabe Ortiz, Jr., WR (5-9, 170); Patrick Carlson, Jr., WR/DB (5-10, 175); Nick Whitley, Sr., C/MLB (6-0, 205); Drew Balsbough, Sr., DE/OL (6-1, 220).

Key Newcomers: Connor Yang, Sr., RB/DB (6-0, 180) (missed last season with injury).

Outlook: Former Carolina Panther standout, Brad Hoover, had made progress in two seasons at Cannon School, taking the Cougars to back-to-back-, NCISAA Division II semifinals. Cannon will take on a new challenge in the PAC 6 conference, but has 14 starters back -- led by all-state WR/DB, Will Exson, junior RB/WR, Gabe Ortiz -- as look to get over the hump and play for a state title.

--JAY EDWARDS

CENTRAL CABARRUS

Head Coach: Kenneth McClamrock (1st year as Central Cabarrus football coach/14-22 overall).

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

2017 Conference: South Piedmont conference (SPC)/3A.

Returning Starters: 7 (3 offense; 4 defense).

Returning Lettermen: 15

Key Returning Starters: Derek Boykins, Jr., RB/LB (6-2, 220); Grayson Baker, Sr., QB (6-3, 180); Brandon Hamilton, Sr., OL/DL (6-2, 285).

Key Newcomers: Ka’Daiffe Harvey, Sr., RB/CB (5-10, 170); Isa’ah Summers, So., LB (5-10, 210).

Outlook: Central Cabarrus had a lot of success in Coach Donnie Kiefer’s five-year tenure, but fell below .500 last season (5-7). This year, former East Rowan, Concord coach, Kenneth McClamrock, looks to help the Vikings climb back up the SPC ladder. While his players will have to learn a new system, McClamrock has some key pieces, including senior QB Grayson Baker, junior RB Derek Boykins, to try to get back in the SPC race and get into better playoff position.

--JAY EDWARDS

CONCORD

Head Coach: Glen Padgett (9th year as Concord head football coach) 87-27 at Concord; 159-87 overall.

2016 Record (Conference): 8-4, 7-2 in the South Piedmont Conference (SPC)

2017 Conference: South Piedmont Conference

Returning Starters: 9

Returning Lettermen: 21

Key Returning Starters: Rick Sandidge, Sr., DE (6-5, 275); Isaac Cochran, Sr., OL (6-6, 290); Antonio Campbell, Sr., WR (6-0, 190); J.D. Miller, Sr., DL/LB (6-1, 220).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Spiders have averaged 11 wins per season for the last eight years under Coach Glen Padgett. However, Concord will be tested with 95 percent of their offense graduated.

The Spiders will depend on a stout defense, led by senior DE, Rick Sandidge (30 D-I offers) while some young offensive playmakers emerge. No one will be surprised if Concord finds a way to be in the mix for an SPC title and more.

--JAY EDWARDS

CONCORD FIRST ASSEMBLY

Head Coach: Craig Kean (5th year as Concord First Assembly football coach).

2016 Record (Conference): 8-3 (NCISAA Division III quarterfinalist).

2017 Conference: NCISAA Piedmont Athletic conference (PAC) 6/NCISAA Division III

Returning Starters: 5

Returning Lettermen: 16

Key Returning Starters: D’Wayne Crawford, Sr., WR/DB (5-8, 160); Nick Treco, Jr., RB (5-11, 175); Seth Sturdivant, Sr., QB (6-0, 170); Jonathan Montague, Sr., OL/DL (6-2, 240); Kyle Howard, Jr., DB/WR (6-1, 177).

Key Newcomers: Jaylen Galette, So., WR/DB (5-10, 150).

Outlook: The Eagles enjoyed their best season since 2011, averaging 40 points per game. While they only return five starters from that 8-3 squad, they return plenty of offensive firepower -- from senior QB, Seth Sturdivant (1,800 yards passing, 20 touchdowns) to all-state WR, D’Wayne Crawford (967 yards receiving, 13 touchdowns) to RB Nick Treco – that will allow them to remain a dangerous team in the new PAC 7 conference and into NCISAA Division III playoffs.

--JAY EDWARDS

COX MILL

Head Coach: Craig Stewart (5th year as Cox Mill football coach/16-29).

2016 Record (Conference): 3-8 (3-6 in the South Piedmont conference).

2017 Conference: South Piedmont conference (SPC)/3A.

Returning Starters: 11

Returning Lettermen: 23

Key Returning Starters: Terrell Dawkins, Jr., DL (6-4, 230); Spencer Hill, Sr., DE (6-4, 230); Michael Lewis, Jr., WR (6-0, 185); John Brosnahan, Sr., K/P (6-0, 180); Fred Pearce, So., RB (5-11, 180); Eric Bone, Jr., QB (6-1, 225); Ryan Bregan, Sr., DB (6-0, 180).

Key Newcomers: Wesley Poindexter, So., QB (5-10, 165); Bodan N’Dala, So., DB (5-11, 167); DeNorris Hunscucker, So., DB (5-11, 170).

Outlook: The Chargers have struggled of late with just five wins combined in the past two seasons. This year, Cox Mill is eager to make the climb back up the SPC ladder and has 11 starters -- including junior QB, Eric Bone, sophomore, Fred Pearce and all-conference senior, K, John Brosnahan -- as look to get back in the mix in the league race and into playoff contention.

--JAY EDWARDS

HICKORY RIDGE

Head Coach: Jason Seidel (2nd year as Hickory Ridge football coach).

2016 Record (Conference): 12-3 (7-2 in the South Piedmont conference (SPC)).

2017 Conference: Southwestern 4A (SW4A).

Returning Starters: 12

Returning Lettermen: 28

Key Returning Starters: Jarett Garner, Sr., WR (6-4, 195); Connor Helm, Sr., ILB (5-11, 215); Cal Wallerstedt, Sr., ILB (5-11, FILL); Jeremiah Boyd, Sr., RB (5-10, 220); Dalton Haywood, Sr., OL/DL (6-1, 260).

Key Newcomers: Logan Cruce, Jr., WR (5-11, 175); Aden Soloman, Jr., RB (5-10, 180); Elijah Metcalf, Fr., RB (5-10, 170).

Outlook: Hickory Ridge is coming off a school record 12-win season, where they advanced to the 3AA state semifinals, so they won’t be intimidated as they move into the SW4A conference. With 12 starters back -- including senior playmakers in WR Jarett Garner (60 receptions for 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns), RB Jeremiah Boyd (1,328 yards rushing, 14 touchdowns) and LB’s Connor Helm (180 tackles) and Cal Wallerstedt (160 tackles) – they have many reasons to believe they can be SW4A contender and make another playoff run.

--JAY EDWARDS

MOUNT PLEASANT

Head Coach: Michael Johns (19th year as Mount Pleasant football coach/113-113 at Mount Pleasant).

2016 Record (Conference): 7-6 (4-1 in the Rocky River conference).

2017 Conference: Rocky River conference/2A.

Returning Starters: 13 (4 offense; 9 defense).

Returning Lettermen: 30

Key Returning Starters: Gage Redmond, Sr., DT/OL (6-2, 270); Warren McClure, Sr., WR/DB (6-0, 180); Dustin Barnhardt, Sr., OL/DL (6-1, 280); Landon Parker, Sr., FS/WR (6-2, 180); Hayden Radford, Sr., RB/LB (5-10, 195); Chance Daquilla, Jr., QB (6-2, 185).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Tigers have won 27 games in the last three years, more than holding their own in the Rocky River conference. This year, Mount Pleasant returns 13 starters and 30 lettermen on a veteran team that has the pieces to challenge for a league title (where Monroe, now in the SCC is no longer in their path) with seniors, DT/OL Gage Redmond (108 tackles) and OL/DL Dustin Barnhardt lead the way up front. The Tigers will also need playmakers -- from junior QB, Chance Daquilla (started every game as sophomore), to seniors WR/DB Warren McClure, WR/FS, Landon Parker (runs 4.5, 40-yard dash) and RB/LB Hayden Radford -- to step up as their high-powered offense (33 points per game last season) will give them a chance to make a postseason run.

--JAY EDWARDS

NORTHWEST CABARRUS

Head Coach: Brandon Gentry (2nd year as Northwest Cabarrus football coach)

2016 Record (Conference): 2-9 (2-6 in South Piedmont conference (SPC)).

2017 Conference: South Piedmont conference/3A.

Returning Starters: 9

Returning Lettermen: 22

Key Returning Starters: Ben Coates, III, Sr., TE/DE (6-3, 215); I.J. Sturdivant, Jr., WR/S (5-8, 160); Joe Camara, Jr., OL/DT (6-3, 255); DeAnthony Barnhardt, Sr., OL/DT (6-3, 285); George Miller-Duncan, So., RB/S (5-9, 170).

Key Newcomers: Ja’len Cannon, Sr., WR (5-11, 175); Tyrese Blake, Jr., RB (5-8, 194); Caleb Funderburke, Jr., CB (5-11, 175).

Outlook: The Trojans have won only six games in the last three years combined. While Northwest Cabarrus has some bright spots in senior TE, Ben Coates, III (35 catches for 615 yards) and sophomore RB, George Miller-Duncan (780 yards rushing), they return only nine starters from a team that averaged 10 points per game last year. Northwest Cabarrus faces an uphill battle in trying to climb from near the bottom of the SPC standings.

--JAY EDWARDS

JAY M. ROBINSON

Head Coach: Joe Glass (4th year as Jay M. Robinson football

coach/27-32 at Jay M. Robinson).

2016 Record (Conference): 10-3, 8-1 in the South Piedmont conference (SPC).

2017 Conference: South Piedmont conference/3A.

Returning Starters: 10

Returning Lettermen: 18

Key Returning Starters: Dawson Williams, Sr., RB/S (5-11, 200); Que

Reid, Sr., RB/S (6-0, 200); Elijah Hinson, Sr., WR/DB (6-0, 170);

Trevon Miller, Sr., DB (6-1, 170); Jalan Miller, Sr., OL (6-3, 320);

Matthew Quates, Sr., OL (6-1, 305); Dom Wiley, Jr., LB (6-0, 195).

Key Newcomers: Chris Caldwell, Jr., QB (6-2); Jahari Young, Sr., RB/LB

(6-0, 205); Andrew Horlbeck, Jr., WR/DB (6-0, 160).

Outlook: After winning one game over the 2013 and 2014 seasons, Jay M. Robinson has stepped up their game in the SPC, going 18-8 over the past two seasons, including a 10-3 mark a year ago. The Bulldogs look to continue to win big and will lean on senior RB, Que Reid, and a massive offensive line, including seniors, Jalan Miller (6-3, 320) and Matthew Quates (6-1, 305), to put them right back into league contention and be a dangerous team in the postseason.

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