by Chris Hunt
On Friday, Oct. 29, the Hopewell Titans will play Vance in a game with enormous playoff implications. A victory over the defensive-minded Cougars (6-3, 4-1) would end a two-game losing skid and pull Hopewell (6-3, 3-2) into a tie for second place in the I-MECK 4A conference.
Such a scenario would also set up a complicated end to the 2010 regular season.
Both West Charlotte (7-2 overall) and Mooresville (6-3) also sport 3-2 conference marks with two games to play. North Meck sits in the shadows with a 2-3 mark. Mooresville has the easiest track with North Meck and last place Lake Norman left, while West Charlotte takes on first-place Mallard Creek, followed by Vance. North Meck takes on Hopewell in the season finale.
• With such an important game coming up, the Titans are excited to get back their top defensive performer: safety Michael Russell.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Russell leads the team with four interceptions, but he missed last week’s humbling 41-0 loss to powerhouse Mallard Creek to attend a five-day baseball tournament in Florida with his showcase team, the Dirtbags. Russell was the starting shortstop on the Titans’ baseball team before he broke his leg in the season opener at West Meck last spring.
While Russell didn’t get to play football against Mallard Creek, he made the most of his absence. Russell said he committed last week to play baseball in the Atlantic Coast Conference for the North Carolina Tar Heels.
“UNC has been watching me (play baseball in tournaments) on the weekends all fall,” said Russell. “This tournament sealed the deal.”
North Meck’s Yost enjoying senior season
To say that Viking linebacker Andrew Yost has made the most of his senior season is an understatement. Yost has compiled statistics that would make even the toughest high school linebacker envious. After the Vikings’ 33-0 loss to Vance on Oct. 22, Yost ranks near the top of Mecklenburg County’s tackling leaders with 120 total stops. He’s also chipped in seven sacks and four interceptions in nine games.
He believes the difference between his junior and senior season production is simple: Yost is finally healthy. Last year, Yost limped through the schedule with an ankle injury. He also played a lot more on offense, taking reps at tight end. This year, however, he’s been sticking to knocking down ball carriers.
“I think my ankle injury held me back more than I realized,” said Yost. “I’ve also studied a lot more film in the past. This season, I’m reacting more to (an opponent’s) plays.”
Yost has spent several weekends this fall making unofficial visits to regional Division I-AA football programs and speaking with various Ivy League schools, hoping to land a spot on a college football team after graduating from North Meck. Those schools include Campbell, Davidson, Brown, Wofford, Furman and Richmond.
• North Meck got a scare when kicker Austin Holland tore ligaments in his ankle in the loss to Vance. Holland, a starter on North Meck’s first-place soccer team, is out for the season and will also miss the state soccer playoffs.
It’s bad enough to lose a starting kicker who’s performed admirably this season, but backup kicker Patrick Harrow is also a soccer player, and soccer coach Paul Kikta was worried, and rightfully so, about losing another player to a football injury before the state playoffs. North Meck doesn’t have many reliable kicking options without Harrow in the lineup.
Fortunately for the football team, that wasn’t the case, and Harrow is expected to kick in this week’s game at Mooresville High (kickoff is 7:30 p.m.). When Holland was healthy, Harrow was the team’s primary kick off specialist. Harrow also kicked and punted for the first four games of the season, while Holland was out with mononucleosis.
The Vikings (3-6, 2-3 I-MECK 4A conference) will need all the help they can get in the final two weeks of the season. North Meck needs a win in the final two games to become eligible for the state playoffs.
Hallman gets some help
SouthLake Christian wide receiver/linebacker Travis Hallman received a nice compliment after the Eagles lost to Concord First Assembly on Oct. 15.
Former Carolina Panther star safety Mike Minter, who’s now First Assembly’s head coach, approached the SouthLake senior in the Hunterville school’s parking lot and praised Hallman’s play.
“Coach Minter told me he loved how hard I hit,” said Hallman. “He asked for a (highlight) DVD and said he would send it to a college coach he knew. We have such a rivalry between our schools, so it was a bit of a shock (that he would come over and compliment my play).”
Hallman appreciates the help, but he may not need it. Last year, as a linebacker, he led Mecklenburg County with 118 tackles. This season, he’s collected 66 stops, three sacks and three interceptions. But that doesn’t mean his production has decreased. Hallman is among the county’s top performers in another category: receiving. He currently has 783 receiving yards to go along with 34 catches and nine touchdowns.
This fall, Hallman has made unofficial visits to Appalachian State, Elon and Lenior-Rhyne.