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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL —Sports Editor Ryan Herman’s Week 1 picks

North Lincoln has beaten Lincolnton only once in nine tries and the Wolves have won nine straight season openers, so somebody’s “10” in the current sequence will feel more like a zero after tonight’s game in Pumpkin Center.
This game last season was, in my opinion, the most exciting game I watched all year. It was ugly and full of mistakes, but the way it ended couldn’t have been scripted any better.
The Knights should have won. Heck, they had it won, but were their own worst enemy. Lincolnton was, in five letters, lucky.
“How did we win? I may wake up in the morning and can tell you,” Wolves coach Scott Cloninger told the Lincoln Times-News moments after a botched PAT attempt with 9 seconds to play let his team escape with a 28-27 win, “but right now I can’t.”
That’s what makes these intra-county rivalry games so great –– you never know what’s going to happen. And we get three straight weeks of them, beginning tonight.

LINCOLNTON at NORTH LINCOLN: The Wolves are banged up and the Knights remember what happened last season, especially considering they have 21 seniors listed on the roster provided to the LTN. So will North Lincoln learn from last year’s mistakes?
Lincolnton will be without starting quarterback Jordon Easter, who’s out with a high ankle sprain, so the offense may sputter a bit. But its defense, anchored by defensive ends Darian Roseboro and Tyron Roberts, and defensive back Quinlyn Harris, will make moving the football hard for a North Lincoln team that averaged 290.1 yards and 20.9 points per game last year. Lincolnton 27, North Lincoln 13.
EAST GASTON at EAST LINCOLN: Mustangs quarterback Chazz Surratt had one of his best games as a sophomore in this game last season, which was also his first career start as their full-time starter. Surratt, against a defense that wound up finishing dead last in its league, ran for four touchdowns, threw for another, and accounted for 297 total yards. The Wildcats, against a defense that finished tops in its league, had only 227 total yards. Oh, and the Mustangs are loaded once again. East Lincoln 35, East Gaston 21.
WEST LINCOLN at DRAUGHN: The Rebels lost more than 70 percent of their offense from last year, yet the offensive line that paved the way for more than 3,500 rushing yards is still intact. Valdese Draughn, which returns only one starter on both sides of the ball, has been picked by its coaches to finish last in the nine-team South Mountain 2A/3A Athletic Conference. West Lincoln 27, Draughn 21.

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