By RYAN HERMAN
Mike Byus insists his East Lincoln football team this season is completely different than the one that won the state 2A championship last season.
The 2013 Mustangs must be pretty darn good. At least their rival coaches believe so.
East Lincoln received five first-place votes, and was voted preseason No. 1 by the eight coaches in the new Southern District 7 Athletic 2A Conference during a media session at the Hickory Daily Record on Sunday.
Newton-Conover received two first-place votes and had 39 total points to finish second.
Lincolnton received the other first-place vote, and finished one point behind the Red Devils for third.
Rounding out the poll were Maiden (31), Bandys (30), Bunker Hill (16), West Lincoln (15) and West Caldwell (8).
The Mustangs had 47 total points.
“This team is going to be a team in and of itself. They’re going to have to have their own leadership. They’re going to have to have their own discipline. They’re going to have to get prepared themselves. They’re going to have to practice hard themselves,” Byus said. “We don’t have the same team, and it’s not fair to this year’s team to even compare them to last year. We don’t have the same team. It’s different kids. We lost 21 seniors and they’re not here.”
What is here is the SD-7. Again.
The league is back again after a run that began in the late 1950s ended with statewide realignment in 2001. All eight schools in the new SD-7 were part of the old league at some point.
Historical conference lists on the NCHSAA website only date back to the 1969-70 school year, with East Lincoln and West Lincoln listed as members of the SD-7.
West Lincoln remained in the league until moving to the Western Piedmont 2A Conference in 1993. East Lincoln exited the league in 1981 when it moved up a classification to join the Western Piedmont 3A Conference.
Lincolnton joined the conference –– and the NCHSAA –– in 1974, when the league played up a classification for two years as the SD73A. It was a member of the Western N.C. High School Activities Association prior to 1974.
Lincolnton spent just three seasons with the SD-7 before moving to the Western Piedmont 3A Conference in 1977.