Practice officially begins next week
By RYAN HERMAN
The high school football season is almost here.
Per NCHSAA rules, teams can hold full-squad practices beginning next Friday, along with the rest of the fall scholastic sports. Teams can wear full pads and gear on the sixth day of practice, and scrimmages can begin on Aug. 11. The first playing date is Aug. 22.
• East Lincoln: The Mustangs entered last season as the defending state 2A champions, and followed the first football title in school history with an undefeated run in the first year of the newly-formed Southern District 7 Athletic 2A Conference. Their use of an academically-ineligible player forced them to forfeit their three non-conference wins, but they won nine in a row to reach the third round of the state 2AA playoffs, where they fell to Monroe to finish 9-5 overall. Then-sophomore quarterback Chazz Surratt accounted for a single-season county record of 62 total touchdowns, and more than 4,100 total yards.
East Lincoln, which opens the season Aug. 22 at home against East Gaston, has won 18 straight conference games dating back to the 2011 season.
• Lincolnton: The Wolves are coming off a 9-5 campaign in which they lost two of their first three games, changed offenses, and bounced back to finish third in the SD-7 and reach the third round of the state 2A playoffs. They played all three of their state playoffs games on the road, and, as a 9-seed, knocked off top-seeded Winston-Salem Carver in the second round on their way to a regional semifinal contest at Reidsville. They return prized recruit Darian Roseboro, who will make is Division I commitment on Aug. 29.
Lincolnton, which opens the season at North Lincoln, will play its final season under head coach Scott Cloninger, who announced earlier this month he will retire at the end of the calendar year.
• North Lincoln: The Knights won just four games last season, but it was their best season in terms of wins since they won seven in 2008. A school with 2A-classification numbers, North Lincoln played its first year in the North Piedmont 3A/4A Conference against some of the largest schools in the state in terms of enrollment. The Knights won only two of their seven conference games, but ended their season with a 48-14 rout of West Iredell for something to build on for this season.
North Lincoln, which opens its season at home against Lincolnton, hasn’t been to the state playoffs since 2008.
• West Lincoln: The Rebels went 7-5 last season and reached the seven-win plateau for only the ninth time in school history. They also finished fourth in the SD-7 and reached the state playoffs for the fourth straight year, but are still the only county team without a playoff win. They enter this season having lost 2,533 of their 3,501 total rushing yards with the graduations of fullback Daniel Davila (1,396 total yards) and quarterback Miguel Corella (1,137 total yards). Their top returning rusher is fullback Charles Mack George, who ran for 361 yards as a junior.
West Lincoln, which opens it season at Valdese Draughn, will try to win three consecutive season openers for the first time since 1976-78.
WEST ALL-STARS 4, EAST ALL-STARS 1: At UNC-Greensboro, the West All-Stars defeated the East All-Stars in the N.C. Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game on Tuesday.
Former East Lincoln standout Tatum Auvil played for the West. After tying the school record for goals in a season at 28 last spring, Auvil came off the bench and didn’t attempt a shot or have an assist as she played the game in a defensive role.
Mooresville’s Erin Settle had a goal and an assist en route to MVP honors.
STATE TOURNAMENT BEGINS TODAY: The N.C. American Legion state tournament began today at Holt-Moffitt Field in Lexington.
Area IV champion Shelby Post 82 (38-1) and Area II runner-up Hope Mills (19-4) began the tournament at 9:30 this morning. Area IV runner-up Gaston Braves (24-3) and Area II champion Wilmington (24-6) play in Game 2, followed by Area I runner-up Wayne County (16-7-1) and Area III champion High Point (26-6) in Game 3 and host Davidson County (15-12) versus Area I champion Garner (26-5) in the nightcap.
Those interested can listen to all games involving Shelby Post 82 and the Gaston Braves on WLON-1050 AM, WOHS-1390 AM and WCSL-1590 AM.