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Prep Football Preview: Mecklenburg County private schools

Country Day QB Russell Tabor gets chance he always dreamt of

A lifer at Charlotte Country Day, junior quarterback Russell Tabor would watch the team play as a kid, and win big, and dreamt of the day he would get his chance. A year ago, he led the Bucs to its first state title since 2010.
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A lifer at Charlotte Country Day, junior quarterback Russell Tabor would watch the team play as a kid, and win big, and dreamt of the day he would get his chance. A year ago, he led the Bucs to its first state title since 2010.

Preseason Mecklenburg County Independent School team

Offense

QB – Cody Cater, Providence Day, 6-0, 200, Sr.

RB – Quentin Cooper, Charlotte Country Day, 5-7, 165, Sr.

RB – Nickel Fields, Providence Day, 5-9, 165, Jr.

WR – Logan Jones, Charlotte Christian, 6-3, 175, Sr.

WR – Jessiah Davis, Providence Day, 6-2, 170, Jr.

TE/WR – Nicko Henderson, Covenant Day, 6-3, 190, Sr.

OL – Mason Diel, Charlotte Christian, 6-1, 240, Jr.

OL – Jackson Concannon, Providence Day, 6-3, 280, Sr.

OL – Nick Metallo, SouthLake Christian, 6-0, 250, Sr.

OL – Julian Swann, Charlotte Country Day, 6-2, 285, Sr.

OL – David Billiard, Covenant Day, 6-3, 265, Sr.

Specialists

ATH – Carter Stockwell, Charlotte Latin, 5-11, 195, Sr.

SPEC – J.B. Awolowo, Charlotte Christian, 5-7, 167, Sr.

K/P – Edward Dellinger, Charlotte Country Day, 6-3, 170, Sr.

Defense

DL – Jacolbe Cowan, Providence Day, 6-5, 275, Sr.

DL – Kedrick Bingley-Jones, Providence Day, 6-5, 270, Sr.

DL – Grayson Cadd, Charlotte Christian, 6-3, 235, Sr.

DL – Jack Stajos, Charlotte Country Day, 6-6, 295, Sr.

LB – Caleb Stephens, Charlotte Christian, 5-11, 225, Sr.

LB – Spencer Wood, Providence Day, 6-0, 180, Sr.

LB – Mekhi Moore, VC/NC Royals, 5-10, 215, Jr.

DB – Andrew Sumichrast, Charlotte Latin, 6-2, 185, Sr.

DB – L.J. Brown, Charlotte Christian, 5-9, 175, Sr.

DB – Luca Lutzel, SouthLake Christian, 6-0, 165, Sr.

DB – Randy Johnson, Charlotte Latin, 6-0, 170, Sr.

DB – Edwin Barnes, Covenant Day, 6-1, 190, Sr.\u0009

Mecklenburg County Public School’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: J.B. Awolowo, Charlotte Christian, ATH, Sr.

Mecklenburg County Private School’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Jacolbe Cowan, Providence, DL, Sr.

School Previews

CHARLOTTE CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Jason Estep (13th year as Charlotte Christian football coach; 109-30 in career).

2018 Record: 11-0 (3-0 in CISAA conference).

2019 Conference: NCISAA Big South conference/NCISAA Division II.

Returning Starters: 11

Returning Letterman: 35

Key Returning Starters: Henry Rutledge, Jr., RB (5-10, 175); Logan Jones, Sr., WR (6-3, 175); J.B. Awolowo, Sr., ATH (5-10, 180); Hudson Jones, So., DL (6-2, 230); Philip Slaughter, Jr., DL (6-1, 230); Caleb Stephens, Sr., LB (5-11, 225); L.J. Brown, Sr., DB (5-9, 175); Mason Diel, Jr., OL (6-1, 240); Chase Preston, Sr., OL (6-7, 260); Nick Greene, Sr., OL (6-1, 250); Grayson Cadd, Sr., DE (6-3, 235).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The defending NCISAA state champions return 11 starters from a team that is used to winning, going 31-3 in the last three seasons. While the Knights do have a lot of new starters to break in, they also have playmakers in multi-position star J.B. Awolowo, WR Logan Jones and RB Henry Rutledge to go with an experienced offensive line that help them score a lot of points. The Knights’ defensive line is also strong with Hudson Jones, Grayson Cadd and Philip Slaughter back to lead the way.

CHARLOTTE COUNTRY DAY

Head Coach: Drew Witman (5th year as Charlotte Country Day head coach; 22-25 at Charlotte Country Day).

2018 Record: 8-5 (0-3 in the NCISAA Big South conference).

2019 Conference: NCISAA Big South Conference/NCISAA Division II.

Returning Starters: 14

Returning Letterman: 19

Key Returning Starters: Jack Stajos, Sr., OL/DL (6-6, 295); Quentin Cooper, Sr., RB (5-7, 165); Julian Swann, Sr., OL/DL (6-2, 285); Stephen Payne, Sr., WR/DB (5-10, 165); John Archer, Sr., OL/DL (6-2, 265); Andrew Wilks, Sr., TE/LB (6-2, 205); Thomas Shields, Sr., WR/LB (5-10, 175); Russell Tabor, Jr., QB (6-2, 185).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Charlotte Country is team on the rise as 14 starters return from a team that went 8-5 and won the NCISAA Division II state title. This year, the Bucs will be strong on both the offensive and defensive line with 6-foot-6, 295-pound Jack Stajos and 6-foot-2, 285 Julian Swann leading the way. Country Day will also need senior RB Quentin Cooper (1,304 yards rushing) and junior QB Russell Tabor to make plays if the Bucs want to contend for another championship.

CHARLOTTE LATIN

Head Coach: Justin Hardin (2nd year as Charlotte Latin head coach).

2018 Record: 6-5, 1-2 in the CISAA.

2019 Conference: NCISAA Big South Conference/NCISAA Division II.

Returning Starters: 11

Returning Letterman: 16

Key Returning Starters: Andrew Sumichrast, Sr., WR/CB (6-1, 190); A.J. Tolber, Sr., DT/OL (5-11, 200); Carter Stockwell, Sr., RB/WR/LB (5-11, 195); Randy Johnson, Sr., WR/CB (6-0, 170); Bennett Smith, Sr., TE/DE (6-4, 215); Jake Helfrich, Jr., QB (6-0, 180).

Key Newcomers: Javaris Bufford, Jr., RB/CB (5-9, 160); Daniel Haughton, So., ATH/QB/DB (5-11, 160); Tyler Hendley, Fr., WR/DB (6-0, 160).

Outlook: Charlotte Latin averaged nine wins per season from 2013-17, before slipping to 6-5 last year. This season, the Hawks return 11 starters giving them the experience to get right back in the thick of the Big South conference race. Junior QB Jake Helfrich (1,900 yards, 18 touchdown passes), senior RB Carter Stockwell (970 yards rushing) and senior WR Andrew Sumichrast are back to lead the offense. Latin senior’s DE Bennett Smith (6 sacks) and CB Randy Johnson (all-state, two interceptions) to lead a defense that allowed only 17 points per game a year ago.

COVENANT DAY

Head Coach: Peter McSparin (1st year as Covenant Day head coach).

2018 Record: 6-5 (2-3 in the Piedmont Athletic Conference).

2019 Conference: NCISAA Piedmont Athletic Conference/NCISAA Division II.

Returning Starters: 18

Returning Letterman: 24

Key Returning Starters: David Billiard, Sr., OL/DL (6-3, 265); Robert Stone, Jr., QB (6-2, 180); Ben Walton, Sr., LB/TE (5-11, 200); Nate Smith, Sr., RB (5-9, 180); Nicko Henderson, Sr., TE/LB (6-3, 190); Seth Shannon, Sr., MLB (6-0, 205); Edwin Barnes, Sr., WR/DB (6-1, 190).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Covenant Day overachieved in its first year as a varsity program, going 6-5, including a trip to the NCISAA Division II playoffs. Now, the challenge is can they be as good or better in year two with a new head coach. Chris James resigned in May to take a job at Ardrey Kell. New head coach Peter McSparin will benefit from the return of 18 starters, led by junior QB Robert Stone (1,340 yards passing, 20 touchdowns last year), senior WR Edwin Barnes (375 yards receiving) and senior OL David Billiard. The entire linebacking corps is back to lead the defense with seniors Nicko Henderson, Seth Shannon and Ben Walton headlining the unit.

HICKORY GROVE

Head Coach: Lynn Coble (1st year as Hickory Grove head coach; 27-45 at Parkwood).

2018 Record: 3-7 (1-4 in the NCISAA Western Conference).

2019 Conference: NCISAA Western Conference.

Returning Starters: 13 (7 offense; 6 defense).

Returning Letterman: 20

Key Returning Starters: Ethan Moore, Sr., WR/DE (6-4, 200); Jake Jeu de Vine, Jr., OL/DL (6-4, 270); Bryce Allen, So., RB/DB (5-10, 165); Sean Dickey, So., WR/DB (5-10, 160); Jeffrey McManus, Jr., RB/LB (6-0, 180).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Former Parkwood coach Lynn Coble looks to breathe new life into a Hickory Grove team that has had only one winning season in the last five years, including a 3-7 campaign last year. The Lions will have to do it with a younger overall team; 90 percent of the roster is made up of sophomores and juniors. Coble will look to senior leader WR/DE Ethan Moore to help spark an offense to put more points on the board (19 points per game last year).

PROVIDENCE DAY

Head Coach: Adam Hastings (5th year as Providence Day head coach; 62-42 in his career).

2018 Record: 6-6 (2-1 in the CISAA).

2019 Conference: NCISAA Big South Conference/NCISAA Division II.

Returning Starters: 17 (offense; 9 defense).

Returning Letterman: 22

Key Returning Starters: Jacolbe Cowan, Sr., DE/TE (6-5, 275); Kedrick Bingley-Jones, Sr., DE/TE (6-5, 270); Spencer Wood, Sr., RB/LB (6-0, 175); Cody Cater, Sr., QB (6-0, 200); Jackson Concannon, Sr., OL/DL (6-3, 280); Mac Hale, Jr., WR/DB (5-10, 170); Jessiah Davis, Sr., WR/DB (6-3, 165); Nickel Fields, Jr., DB/RB (5-9, 175); Thomas Flynn, Jr., WR/DB (6-5, 195).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Providence Day returns 17 starters from a team up and down last year at 6-6. The Chargers will be loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, with their strength on the defensive line with two major Division I senior DE’s in Jacolbe Cowan (6-5, 275) and Kedrick Bingley-Jones (6-3, 270, UNC commit) leading a unit that could be dominant. The Chargers’ offense should be much improved with senior QB Cody Cater and junior RB Nickel Fields back to lead the way. Providence Day has the experience and talent to contend for the Big South conference and NCISAA Division II state title, but will have to prove they can win the “big games,” to accomplish those goals.

SOUTHLAKE CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Cheron Farley (1st year as SouthLake Christian football coach; six years as SouthLake Christian defensive coordinator).

2018 Record: 7-5 (2-1 in the NCISAA Piedmont Athletic Conference).

2019 Conference: NCISAA Piedmont Athletic Conference/Division III.

Returning Starters: 8

Returning Letterman: 12

Key Returning Starters: Luca Lutzel, Sr., FS/WR (6-0, 165); Beau Bullerdick, Sr., RB/DB (5-10, 180); Matt Lutzel, So., DB/WR (5-10, 165); Derek Farley, Jr., DT/OG (6-0, 240); Bryce Duquesne, Sr., LB/RB (6-0, 205); Nick Metallo, Sr., OT/DT (6-0, 250); Zack Murphy, So., K/P (5-11, 175).

Key Newcomers: C.J. Simmer, Sr., LB/TE (6-4, 210); Cooper Wray, So., DB/WR/QB (5-10, 160).

Outlook: SouthLake Christian has been up and down in the last two years going 13-11. This year, former defensive coordinator Cheron Farley takes over a younger overall team with eight starters back (12 lettermen returning). The Eagles will look to two-way standouts in seniors FS/WR Luca Lutzel (six interceptions, two pick sixes, 825 all-purpose yards last year) RB/DB Beau Bullerdick, OT/DT Nick Metallo and RB/LB Bryce Duquesne, to be playmakers and provide leadership. SouthLake Christian will be well tested within their own league (the NCISAA Piedmont Athletic conference) but the Eagles have proven they can win in the postseason (NCISAA Division III state champions in 2017, Division III state semifinalists in 2018), and hope to be in position to make a similar run this November.

VC/NC ROYALS (Victory Christian/Northside Christian merger)

Head Coach: Shaun Gaines (3rd year as Victory Christian head coach; 1st year as merged team).

2018 Record: Victory Christian 0-5; Northside Christian 5-5.

2019 Conference: NCISAA Western Conference/Division III.

Returning Starters: 15 (7 offense; 8 defense).

Returning Letterman: 15

Key Returning Starters: Mehki Moore, Jr., MLB (5-10, 215); Matthew Spencer, Sr., WR (6-3, 185); Caleb Coleman, Jr. ATH, WR, RB, SS (6-0, 180); Tyreke Thompson, Jr., FS/WR (6-2, 170); Tshokote Shosola, Fr., WR/CB (5-11, 180); Jaryd Broome, So., CB (6-0, 170).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Northside Christian and Victory Christian are merging to make up the new team called the NC/VC Royals. The move will help both schools, which struggled finding enough players to field competitive teams. Coach Shaun Gaines, who says he hopes to get up to 30 players on the team this year, will benefit from 15 starters returning. They include junior LB Mekhi Moore, senior WR Matthew Spencer, juniors ATH Caleb Coleman and DB/WR Tyreke Thompson. The Royals also have promising younger players like sophomore DB Jaryd Broome and freshman DB/WR Tshokote Shosola back in the lineup. Victory Christian hasn’t won a game in two season, while Northside Christian was 8-13 in the past two years. This year, the hope is for some quick success.

Mecklenburg County Private School Conference Predictions

NCISAA Big South Conference

  1. Charlotte Christian; 2. Providence Day; 3. Charlotte Country Day; 4. Charlotte Latin.

NCISAA Piedmont Athletic Conference

  1. Metrolina Christian; 2. High Point Christian; 3. Cabarrus Warriors; 4. Covenant Day; 5. SouthLake Christian.

NCISAA Western Conference

  1. Asheville School; 2. Rabun Gap Nacoochee; 3. Hickory Grove; 4. VC/NC Royals (Victory Christian/Northside Christian merger).
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