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4A West Final: Vance at Harding

Both of these teams have had very good seasons to be at this point, congratulations to both programs for a job well done this year! These schools have not met at all this season - they did not scrimmage, and of course did not play but both being in Charlotte they ARE familiar with one another. Aaron Brand knows westside football, having been at West Meck and West Charlotte in the past before having success at Mallard Creek as OC and of course HC at Vance. Sam Greiner was a DC for a few years at Vance in the past before becoming the HC at Harding 3 years ago. 

Vance defeated RJ Reynolds, Glenn, and Hickory Ridge to get to this point, while Harding defeated Porter Ridge and East Forsyth to get here. Vance's losses in the regular season were to West Meck, Mallard Creek, and Hough. Harding's only loss was to Mallard Creek in the regular season. 

This game will be at Harding Friday Night at 7:30 pm. Carolina Varsity will host it's 1st ever live pregame show from Dave Harris Stadium starting around 6:30 pm. Please come check this out as we will have guests, analysis, and more!

Vance Offense 

QB - Nigel Summerville has gotten exponetially better as the season has gone along, and Coach Brand has his QB peaking at the right time. He has a strong arm and can make almost any throw on the field. He's not really a dual threat, but he can throw well on the run, especially on rollouts. He also hangs tough in the pocket against pressure to make big throws down field. 

HB - Kalen Clark and MJ Williams form a Thunder and Lightning duo that is tough to stop. Clark will run well behind a big OL and get tough yardage inside and off tackle. Williams can run the outside plays and is dangerous in the passing game in open space. Harding will have to account for the backs and gang tackle to limit big plays. 

WR - Jaylen Riley is the big play threat here, he has been making them all season and it's thanks to some really good speed that he has been getting behind DBs on a regular basis. TE Gary Williams brings a threat most teams don't have in high school - a very good receiving tight end. He really is a load to handle in the middle of the field, and the Harding LBs will have a challenge on their hands with how to defend him. 

OL - This OL has some very good size, that's the first thing you notice about them. They're led by big Luke Thrower who's listed at 6'3 and 305. These guys on the interior will have to come off the football and get stalemates against the big interior of the Harding DL to allow their backs to run well. They will have a challenge of getting the Rams pass rush neutralized in order for big plays to happen as well.

Harding Offense 

QB - Braheam Murphy has one of the most awesome stories you will ever hear, but on the field he is a really good player too. He does a great job handling the most diverse run game I can remember and he can run the ball well also. Harding does not throw often, but when asked Murphy delivers catchable balls, though the accuracy isn't always perfect - but when you average five passes per game, that's being nitpicky. Great leader as well. 

HB - Quavaris Crouch makes the engine go - being the #1 junior RB in the nation, he can do it all. He runs over you, runs away from you, can make you miss, and can catch the ball in space. The two wing guys complement him - sophomore RB Dekerius Thompson is a star in the making, and Reggie Burris has ability to take it the distance as well. 

WR - Harding does not throw often, but when they do, Deandre Dubose and Nathan Everett are the ones that get the targets. They have good speed and benefit from a lot of man coverage, so if the Rams do throw it's usually off playaction and it's a shot play. These guys along with the TEs are majorly important in their run game when breaking big plays. 

OL - These guys do a lot of run blocking against crowded 8 and 9 man boxes and do an excellent job in the run game. Led by big #75 Jovaughn Gwyn, there are other guys that do some heavy lifting but don't get a ton of recognition. However they will have to do a good job against a pair of talented DEs for Vance in order for their perimeter run game to do well this week.

Vance Defense 

DL - Damir Faison and Marquise Blount are probably the best pair of DE's in the city of Charlotte. They have really good size and good frames that project well on the next level. However in this game they will have to come off the ball well and get penetration in the run game to help slow down the Harding run before it gets started. It will be important for the DL to follow the pulls and create disruption in the backfield as well. 

LB - Gerald Nathan Jr. is probably the best OLB in the city as well. Really good speed and diagnoses plays well. He will be very important in recognizing plays quickly and swarming to the ball carrier this week. LBs will have to shed blocks really well and flow hard to prevent big plays in the run game from happening. If they blitz, they have to get the ball carrier on the ground and gang tackle. 

DB - The DBs may get somewhat bored in this game, but the corners are really important in run support as most of Harding's big plays happen off tackle and out wide. They cannot be afraid to take on blockers and get physical because the run will be coming downhill. They also cannot fall asleep and must play pass first responsibility because big plays can happen if they are not paying attention over the top.

Harding Defense 

DL - These guys have a pretty good rotation of bodies along the defensive line and they do a really good job of not allowing linemen to get 2nd level on their LBs allowing them to go run and make plays. There is a lot of weight in the middle and the rotation allows them to stay pretty fresh throughout the game. They will have to get a pass rush though against Vance, so they will have to get that going a little more than usual. 

LB - Boss Parson is a very underrated player for this Harding team and is a leader on this defense, but he doesn't say too much or ask for the spotlight. It will be interesting to see if he will be able to play this week, he suffered an injury against East Forsyth. But the OLBs do a really good job here - they are athletic, come on the rush, set the edge, and play pass coverage all at the same time and do it very well. Maliek Faust and Martin Delgado are players to watch in these spots. 

DB - Malik Dunlap, Tray Corbett, Marcellous Harris, and Marquise Nelson make up one of the best secondaries in the state. They play a lot of man coverage and they do very well with it. They will have a challenge on their hands this week as Vance is one of the more vertical teams they have seen this year. Expect a Dunlap vs. Riley matchup a good bit of the game and that will be fun to watch.

Special Teams 

Vance - From what I can remember, their kicker does a decent job - not a huge strength but not a liability either. Vance has several guys that are dangerous in the return game, so the coverage units for Harding must be disciplined in their assignments and tackle well in space. 

Harding - Their kicker/punter Alejandro Guevara has a good leg - I would say he's good from 40 and in, and pretty accurate with it. Punting he has flipped the field a few times - his 4th quarter punt against Porter Ridge essentially sealed the game. In the return game, Tray Corbett has good ability - his kick return against Porter Ridge was the difference.

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