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Football playoffs begin today

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East Lincoln junior Damisho Finandis runs with a reception.

MICHAEL GEBELEIN
Sports Editor

Game of the Week: West Lincoln Rebels (5-6, 3-4 SPC) at South Iredell Vikings (9-2, 6-1 CVAC)
The West Lincoln Rebels have the toughest draw of the Lincoln County schools in the first round of the playoffs today as they face the Catawba Valley Athletic Conference co-champion South Iredell Vikings.
“We’ve worked a game plan and practiced it,” West Lincoln head coach Tom Sain said. “We’ve been talking about getting ready to play. When the chance comes, when our times comes on Friday night, we’re going to have to be ready to play.”
The Vikings were headed toward a third-straight undisputed CVAC championship when they lost to Newton-Conover in Week 10, snapping the Vikings’ 19-game win streak over CVAC opponents and splitting the best conference record between the Vikings, Newton-Conover and Maiden.
South Iredell has averaged 33 points-for this year, and its defense has been limiting opponents to just over 11 points per game, including three shutouts.
South Iredell has split its season yardage total down the middle between running (142 yards per game) and passing (152 yards per game). Senior quarterback Davin King threw for 1,434 yards and 12 touchdowns in the regular season, targeting junior Michael Fisher the most with 41 season receptions for 592 yards and five touchdowns.
The Vikings used 14 different running backs throughout the regular season, with senior Rashad Degree leading the team with 103 carries for 696 yards and six touchdowns. Junior Eythan Kramm has 96 carries for 387 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Senior Scott Miller and Kramm lead the South Iredell defense with 109 total tackles each. Kramm had three sacks during the regular season.
The Rebels have a statistical advantage over the Vikings in average yards per game. West Lincoln racked up 316 yards per game, thanks in large part to senior Daniel Davila’s conference-best 1,644 yards and 14 touchdowns on 254 carries. Senior Clay Alguire (56-436 yards, seven touchdowns) and junior quarterback Miguel Corella (71-476 yards, eight touchdowns) round out West Lincoln top three ball carriers.

No. 7 Lincolnton Wolves (6-5, 5-2 SPC) at No. 2 Wilkes Central Eagles (9-1, 8-0 MVC)
The Wilkes Central Eagles are probably still trying to forget what happened last time the Lincolnton Wolves came to Moravian Falls for a playoff game.
John Gilleland’s 17-yard field goal with 43 seconds left in the game in the third round of the 2007 playoffs lifted the Wolves to a 29-26 win. Two games later the Wolves were 2A state champions.
This year the Wolves finished third in the Southern Piedmont Conference standings and are coming into the first round as an underdog, based on records.
“They know you either play or your season is over with,” Lincolnton head coach Scott Cloninger said. “I think all of them understand what’s at stake this week.”
Wilkes Central enters today’s game on an eight-game win streak after defeating Starmount 14-7 last week to take the Mountain Valley Conference title. Their only loss of the season came against 3A West Iredell (1-9, 0-6 NPC), 20-19, in the second week of the season.
The Wolves extended their win streak to four games with a 37-14 win over West Lincoln in the regular season finale last week.
The Eagles are a run-centered, wing-T and straight-T offense and have collected 3,153 season rushing yards on 488 carries. Quarterback Calvin Shomaker has 35 season completions for 384 yards and three touchdowns.
“They want to lull you to sleep,” Cloninger said. “They want to run, run, run and then all of a sudden throw one at you with a play-action pass.”
Senior halfback Cameron Williams leads the team with 181 carries for 1,277 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. Sophomore running back Victor Williams is not far behind with 95 carries for 929 yards and 12 touchdowns.
But Cloninger said the game would be determined by the big guys up front.
“It’s going to be won on the line of scrimmage,” he said. “They have some big, strong kids on the line. But our defensive line is a strong part of our game.”

No. 8 Wheatmore Warriors (5-6, 2-3 PAC-6) at No. 1 East Lincoln Mustangs (11-0, 7-0 SPC)
No. 1 East Lincoln rolled through the regular season, and can extend its streak to 12 games with a win over the Wheatmore Warriors today.
Wheatmore finished the regular season in fourth place in the PAC-6. The team has averaged two touchdowns per game while giving up nearly 25 points to its opponents. The Warriors were shut out three times during the regular season.
After giving up big numbers to its opponents but finding ways to win with a high-velocity offense early in the season, the Mustang defense allowed nine points per game in the final six games of the regular season. The East Lincoln offense averaged 41 points per game during that same time span, and put up a season-high 63 points against Cherryville last week.

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