Gaston and Lincoln Opening Week Picks
Game of the Week: South Point @ Clover, SC
This is the first ever meeting between the two. The Clover Blue Eagles are coming off a state title year, but they have to replace 16 starters from last year’s squad due to graduation. South Point returns 9 starters on offense and 6 on defense and the Red Raiders are coming off a 12-2 season including a third round playoff loss to T.C. Roberson. Desmond Lowery is back under center for South Point and Aaron Crumbley, Josh Justice, and Jesse McGaha also return in the back-field for South Point. The Red Raiders offense has been solid throughout the preseason. The defense, however, will need a little time to gel. Look for Clover’s Ricky Moore to go both ways at FB and MLB. On paper, South Point should take this one due to Clover’s team being young. But it’s usually a different game when played south of the border.
My pick: South Point 27 – Clover 24
Forestview vs. Nation Ford, SC (@ FortMill)
This is the second meeting between the two. Forestview won last year’s match-up 28-8. The Falcons return all their starters from last year and Forestview returns 14 starters with 7 on each side of the ball returning. Forestview’s RB Jarkeevous Alexander is among some of the returnees, along with FB Nathan Anderson, WR Jawan Taylor, and LB Seth Hazelton. Forestview’s offense looked impressive against South Mecklenburg in the Gaston County Jamboree, but struggled on defense. The Falcons have Mitchell Starnes back at QB and WR Dee Truesdale will likely be his #1 target. With one year under their belts, the Falcons should be improved. The Jaguars are also looking to be on the move up this year after a rocky 4-7 season.
My pick: Forestview 35 – Nation Ford 21
West Charlotte @ Ashbrook
The Green Wave has most of their starters back on defense from last year’s 8-6 squad and added a key transfer in their back-field, Darius Edwards. Edwards came from North Gaston. The Green Wave’s defense looked stout against East Mecklenburg in the Gaston County Jamboree, allowing only one touchdown for the Eagles. On offense, Ashbrook returns their #1 threat at WR, Jheranie Boyd. Boyd is among the most recruited player in the area and is down to 5 College choices. However, with some uncertainty at QB it might be up to RB Ocie McElhaney to shoulder most of the load. One way or the other, the Green Wave will find ways to get the ball to Boyd. Ashbrook may start the season off slow, but that’s not unusual. The Green Wave usually peaks by mid-season. The West Charlotte Lions are young this year, but have plenty of speed.
My pick: Ashbrook 24 – West Charlotte 14
North Gaston @ Alexander Central
Talk about role reversals. North Gaston pounced on Alexander Central by a score of 42-7 last year. But that was with A.J. Blue, Princeton Brooks, and Darius Edwards and others. But, Blue, Brooks, Edwards along with 12 other starters are gone and the Wildcats have a new coaching staff in place while the Cougars have most of their players back from last year’s young squad. Austin Ray will take over at QB and Markeso Williams will be looked upon heavily at RB. If the Wildcats don’t grow up fast, it could be a long season. Getting routed 56-7 in the Gaston County Jamboree does not bode well for the Wildcats.
My pick: Alexander Central 49 – North Gaston 7
East Rutherford @ Lincolnton
The Wolves won the 2A State Title last season with a 28-0 rout of South Columbus, but most of the starters from that team have graduated, including key RB C.J. Wilson and TE Demery Brewer. The Wolves return only 2 starters on offense and 4 on defense and they have a brutal non-conference schedule facing teams like South Point, Maiden and Shelby. Their conference is not going to be any easier than it was last year with East Lincoln and North Lincoln looking to take first place. Cherryville should be competitive and Bessemer City will be improved over last year. But this is Lincolnton and they always find a way to win important games.
My pick: East Rutherford 21 – Lincolnton 14
St. Stephens @ West Lincoln
The Rebels are coming off a disappointing 1-10 season and things don’t look like they’ll get any easier. They bring in a new coaching staff and a new offensive system. They will go from a power-running Wing-T offense to the Shotgun/Spread offense. New coach Mark Latham has had plenty of success with that when he was at East Gaston, but will he see that kind of success at West Lincoln. Look for West Lincoln to get off to a slow start. Their non-conference schedule also does them no favors. Next in line is Maiden, then they got match-ups with West Iredell and East Rutherford.
My pick: St. Stephens 35 – West Lincoln 7
East Lincoln @ Newton-Conover
These two teams met twice last year. The Red Devils beat the Mustangs in their home opener last year by a score of 21-19, but the Mustangs returned the favor at Newton in the third round of the playoffs by a score of 23-17. East Lincoln returns QB Josh Wilson, RB Austin Culp and deep threat WR Keith Rendleman along with many others. Newton-Conover’s A.J. Bazzle takes over at QB and Dorian Jones will be a key work-horse for the Red Devils. However, Newton-Conover has to replace their entire OL.
My pick: East Lincoln 28 – Newton-Conover 14
LakeNorman @ North Lincoln
Lake Norman won last years meeting between the two by a score of 28-13, so the Knights are looking for some payback. The Wildcats only won two other games that year and ended up with a 3-8 season. The Knights were 10-4, making it to the third round of the playoffs but coming up short in an 18-13 loss to Mount Pleasant. Look for the North Lincoln Knights to come out on top in this one.
My pick: North Lincoln 28 – Lake Norman 14
R-S Central @ BessemerCity
The Hilltoppers have taken all four of the last match-ups between the two, but the Yellow Jackets appear to be on the upswing this year. Don’t expect the Hilltoppers to dominate like they did in games past. This one could be a shootout.
My pick: R-S Central 34 – Bessemer City 28
Bunker Hill @ Cherryville
Cherryville has taken the last three from the Bears of Bunker Hill. Could this year be any different? Probably not! The Ironmen went 6-6 last year, losing in the first round of the playoffs to East Surry 13-7. The Bears went 1-10. Look for the Ironmen to take four in a row.
My pick: Cherryville 34 – Bunker Hill 14