North Mecklenburg football’s narrow 33-28 loss to rival Hopewell on Nov. 5 was a fitting exclamation point for the 2010 season. As they had done most of the season, the Vikings (3-8, 2-5 I-MECK 4A conference) entered the contest as sure-fire underdogs, but they turned it into a dramatic football game.
Last season, the Vikings won more games (six) in coach Mike Bradley’s first year at the helm, but he said 2010 was special, even with a losing record. His gang of overachievers never let up and prepared for every game as if they expected to win. That was especially the case last week against the Titans.
“Our game against Hopewell was the most mentally prepared we have been all season,” said Bradley. “The way we played, you wouldn’t know who had the better record. We outplayed them, but they were just a more talented team.”
It was the last game for North Meck’s standout defensive seniors Andrew Yost and Latham York. The hard-hitting pair collected 16 and seven tackles, respectively. York finished the season with an impressive 151 tackles, eight sacks and four interceptions -- just ahead of York’s 91 stops, 10 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss.
Linebacker Jonny Piece chipped in seven tackles and two sacks against Hopewell. He amassed 61 tackles and five sacks in his senior season. Senior quarterback Michael Irvin threw for 1,381 yards and eight touchdowns this fall. Senior wideout Trey Long caught 16 passes for 369 yards and three scores, while cornerback Jalen McCullough recorded 49 tackles and one interception. Bradley added that senior linemen Dejon Stevenson, Gavin Rawls and Thomas Dunlap didn’t get enough credit for their play.
“Our kids didn’t leave the locker room until after 11:30 that night,” said Bradley. “Those kids, especially the seniors, didn’t want the season to end. I’m sorry to see the senior class leave.”
Still, Bradley has much to look forward to next season. The benefit of coaching such a young team is that the Vikings return next fall with experience on their side. Sophomore wide receiver Rashaan Brown led the team with 36 catches for 548 yards and five scores, even after missing two games. Bradley also said sophomore linebacker Chris Dickerson (57 tackles, four sacks) made more stops in the last three games than any Viking, including Yost. He also gave symbolic tips of the hat to North Meck’s explosive junior wide receiver Terrence “Red” Clyburn, sophomore defensive end Tahjai Watts, sophomore defensive back Karl Roberts, junior defensive back Darnell Foster, sophomore lineman Sheldon Kinard and junior linebacker Jon Harrison.
Huskies made strides, showed character in their first season
In a year full of firsts for the Hough High School football program, there’s one the Huskies wish they could delay for a bit – their first offseason.
On Nov. 5, the Huskies concluded their inaugural campaign with a 52-0 loss to conference foe Mallard Creek. The loss dropped their overall record to 2-10 and 0-7 in the I-MECK 4A conference. But this season’s success wasn’t necessarily measured by wins and losses, explained first-year coach Bobby Collins. The Huskies won their first two games of the season before entering conference play with a 2-1 record. And although they didn’t win a conference game, Collins was impressed with the way his players progressed this season.
“You’d think that going out and playing teams like Mallard Creek and Hopewell that had incredible football seasons, or going against (running back) Scoot Simmons at West Charlotte (would wear them down, but) they came out every week ready to learn and ready win a football game,” said Collins. “They went into every football game trying to win. As a young coach and a young football team, I think that’s very important for the program.”
This will be the first real offseason for Collins and his Huskies, and the coach plans to institute a weight-training regimen.
“I’m pretty sure no one in the city of Charlotte will train as hard as we will,” said Collins.
There is plenty of reason for optimism. The fact that Hough competed without any seniors means that almost all of Collins’ players will return next season. Furthermore, 20 to 25 of those players will be seniors next year, giving them the leadership core they missed this season.
Knights have strong finish
Lake Norman Charter wrapped up its inaugural season of varsity football in impressive fashion last week – by winning its first game.
After losing their first nine games, the Knights defeated Gastonia’s Highland Tech, 42-6, on Nov. 5.
The 42-point outburst more than doubled the Knights’ previous best output this season – 21 points on two occasions (against Wake Christian and Asheville School, both 31-21 defeats).