by Chris Hunt
On Oct. 15, Hopewell and Mooresville met at different peaks of their seasons. The Titans were tied for first place with Mallard Creek at 3-0 in the I-MECK 4A conference, with games remaining against four of the top teams in the league. The Blue Devils, conversely, were looking up the mountain after a 1-2 start in league play, with losses to conference title contenders Mallard Creek and Vance. But following its game against Hopewell, Mooresville will face three teams with just two conference wins combined.
In a game with serious playoff implications, Mooresville seized the moment, dominating both sides of the ball to win, 19-3, and drop Hopewell to 6-2 overall. In the wake of a tough loss, the Titans’ playoff journey becomes even rockier with a monumental challenge against Mallard Creek on Friday, Oct. 22, followed by second-place Vance and crosstown rival North Meck.
Hopewell coach Chris Rust, however, embraces the challenge.
“With three games to go, it’s still in our hands,” said Rust of his team’s playoff chances. “Even though we have six victories, I’m still not comfortable about making the playoffs. You’re never comfortable. But if we win two out of three, or all three of our games, we’ll be in good shape.”
The Titans take on the Mavericks at 7 p.m. at Thunder Valley.
Vikings seek to regain winning edge
North Meck’s road to the playoffs isn’t much easier than Hopewell’s final three games. A 48-0 loss to state championship contender Mallard Creek on Oct. 15 left the Vikings with a mark of 3-5 overall, 2-2 in the I-MECK 4A. North Meck needs one more win – over Vance (Friday, Oct. 22), Mooresville (Oct. 29) or Hopewell (Nov. 5) – to meet the minimum state playoff requirement for victories.
The top four seeds in the conference earn an automatic bid to the postseason, but there’s still some wiggle room for the Vikings (as well as Hopewell) to fall back on a wild card berth if things don’t go their way. The N.C. High School Athletic Association will select 32 teams and split them into two 16-team brackets: the 4A and 4AA playoffs. The 4AA will be made up of the 16 biggest schools based on student population.
Last year’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools district realignment shrank Hopewell and North Meck’s enrollment to less than 2,000 students, which means both teams could be on the 4A/4AA bubble. The answer will be revealed by the NCHSAA after final regular-season records are collected.
“Until we win one more game, I don’t want to think about the playoffs,” North Meck coach Mike Bradley said. “We are just preparing for Vance. You could spend all day wondering if we fall in the 4A or 4AA brackets. I don’t get caught up in all that.”
North Meck faces Vance in a 7 p.m. game at Viking Valley.
SouthLake’s Remick out two weeks
On Oct. 15, SouthLake Christian faced the difficult task of playing defending Division II private-school state champion Concord First Assembly without starting quarterback Sam Remick, who broke a bone in his foot. SouthLake coach Rich Landis said it’s also likely Remick will miss this week’s homecoming contest against winless Fayetteville Village Christian Academy (0-8) to let the injury heal before the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association playoffs. Kickoff for the game is 7:30 p.m.
“Sam’s fracture is right across the top metacarpal bone in his big toe,” said Landis. “It’s not just the toe that’s the problem; the break’s also near the joint. The fracture will heal quickly but we have to be careful with the joint. One of the possible side affects is that when the bone heals, it could affect the joint.”
The Eagles lost to First Assembly, 42-12, Landis is hopeful Remick can return for the Oct. 29 regular-season finale against Forsyth Country Day, which should have a big impact on the Eagles’ playoff seeding. A win would give SouthLake sole possession of third place in the Carolina Piedmont Football Conference and possibly sway the selection committee to award the Eagles (6-3, 3-2 CPFC) a favorable seed in the eight-team bracket. The top four seeds earn a home playoff game.
Landis predicted that either Wilmington Harrells Christian Academy or First Assembly would take the No. 1 seed, leaving Westminster Catawba, Fayetteville Trinity Christian, Forsyth Country Day and SouthLake to battle for positions 3 through 6. Westminster Catawba beat SouthLake in the season opener on Aug. 20 and will face First Assembly and Trinity in back-to-back weeks to end the regular season.
• With Remick out, the Eagles experimented with a three-headed monster at quarterback. Wide receivers Travis Hallman, Revonn Hassell and Kendall Godwin split time under center to some success in the first half. Hassell, who was used more in “Wildcat” formations, found Hallman twice on touchdown passes. Godwin also completed a pass.
“The new wrinkles helped to keep First Assembly off balance,” Landis said. “It kept them frustrated. But in the second half, they made some adjustments, which good teams do.”
• Lineman Troy Lowden suffered a lower neck injury after a late hit on special teams in the second quarter. The game was delayed nearly 30 minutes as Lowden was loaded onto a stretcher and taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons. Landis said Lowden still had feeling in his limbs as he was lifted into the ambulance, which he added was a positive sign.
“Troy is OK,” Landis said on Oct. 19. “He’s very sore, but he should be OK for the Forsyth game.”
Knights still seek first win
In other northern Mecklenburg County football action, Lake Norman Charter travels to Fayetteville Trinity Christian for a 7:30 p.m. contest.
The Knights (0-8) seek their first win of the season, but Trinity Christian (5-1) will be a tough opponent. Although this is Trinity Christian’s first season of 11-man play, the program has won the past three private-school state championships in eight-man football. Last season, Trinity boasted a 12-0 mark and has had no trouble adjusting to the 11-man game, posting victories over Forsyth Country Day, Victory Christian and Raleigh Ravenscroft.
Lake Norman Charter is led by receiver/safety Alex Scearce, quarterback Michael Dorsainvil, running back/linebacker Sam Peskin and running back/cornerback Lee Bobo.