Conference play is officially here.
Tonight’s games mark the start of Southern District 7 Athletic 2A and North Piedmont 3A/4A play, and there are some monster games on tap. The game locally everyone is talking about is what has been coined as the “Showdown in Vale Town” between Lincolnton and host West Lincoln.
The schools have had T-shirts printed, depicting helmets separated by a yardline with the phrase, “The line has been drawn,” and ticket sales have been ongoing all week. One estimate I’ve heard is the schools are expecting somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 people tonight at West Lincoln.
Oh, and there’s that thing called Twitter that has been exploding with kids giving their opponents all the motivation they need.
Then again, it is Lincolnton and West Lincoln. What more motivated is needed?
LINCOLNTON (2-2) at WEST LINCOLN (4-0): The Rebels sport the league’s leading rusher in Daniel Davila and the league’s second-best rushing attack overall. The Wolves, now a month with a new offense, don’t have anyone in the top 10 in rushing, and is fifth overall in carrying the football. Defensively, West Lincoln is fourth in total defense while Lincolnton is sixth. But those numbers can be deceiving. Lincolnton’s strength of schedule has been much tougher than that of West Lincoln’s. The Wolves’ four non-conference opponents have a combined 10-7 record –– 5-0 by Belmont South Point and 4-0 by North Gaston. The Rebels have played four opponents who combined are 3-15, and at the time of their game, none of West Lincoln’s opponents had a win. Of course, aside from their season opener with Valdese Draughn, the Rebels had no trouble with Cherryville and Fred T. Foard while both teams (Lincolnton and West Lincoln) cut it close against North Lincoln. So in other words, stats, streaks and schedules won’t mean much in this one, but confidence will. West Lincoln 27, Lincolnton 24.
EAST LINCOLN (3-1) at BANDYS (2-2): The Mustangs saw their 19-game winning streak snapped at Gastonia Forestview two weeks ago. Now that they’ve had a couple weeks to recover, they should be ready –– and healthy enough –– to take on the Trojans. Bandys has dropped two in a row after outscoring their first two opponents 74-18. It’s given up 54 points its last two games. East Lincoln 35, Bandys 21.
SOUTH IREDELL (4-0) at NORTH LINCOLN (1-3): The Knights couldn’t have received a tougher North Piedmont 3A/4A opening assignment if they asked for one. Simply put, the Vikings are good. Really good. They won the 2AA state title last season, are on a 10-game winning streak and have lost just four of their last 46 games. Oh, and they’re ranked sixth in the latest AP statewide 3A poll. South Iredell 42, North Lincoln 8.