Devil of a Season
by Staff Writer
Mooresville earns -newspaper’s Super 6 -championship crown
Each year, our newspaper crowns a champion for our Lake Norman-Area Super 6 football rankings. In order to qualify for our rankings, a team must not have any players who have “reclassified” in order to play a fifth season of high school football.
Davidson Day, which won the private-school Division III state championship, recently changed its reclassification policies and will be eligible for the Super 6 rankings in future seasons.
Here is a look at this year’s final rankings:
The Blue Devils opened the season emphatically, ending West Rowan’s 46-game winning streak with a 21-14 victory. Mooresville was 3-2 before it put together a nine-game winning streak, during which it scored 30 or more points eight times.
The offense was dynamic behind a talented line that created space for quarterback Deonte Black (1,719 rushing yards, 30 touchdowns) and running back Dee Tomlin (1,137 yards). The defense was the team’s anchor, led by linemen Deandre Coleman and Charles Wilkes, and linebackers Martavion Moore and Scott Markofski.
Mooresville peaked entering the playoffs and dominated with postseason victories against East Gaston (by 20 points), Watauga (by 31) and Monroe Sun Valley (by 21).
The season ended with a 34-28 loss to Indian Trail Porter Ridge in the Class 4A semifinals, but coach Hal Capps has returned the Blue Devils to the state power they were in the 1990s and early 2000s. Mooresville was 0-11 two years ago, so the fast improvement is nothing short of remarkable.
2. EAST LINCOLN
The Mustangs didn’t have any trouble scoring, thanks to offensive talents in running back Bubba McDowell (1,850 rushing yards, 30 touchdowns and eight receiving scores), quarterback Garrett Young (29 touchdown passes) and receiver Antwaine McLean (775 yards, 11 touchdowns). East Lincoln scored 40 or more points eight times, and had 39 points in a loss.
The defense was solid behind linebackers Tyler Rhodes and Charlie Goss. What hampered the Mustangs most was being forced to forfeit their 56-13 victory against Bessemer City in a Southern Piedmont 1A/2A conference game for using an ineligible player. The loss ultimately landed the Mustangs in third place in the conference, one game behind Bessemer City, and a less-than-attractive playoff seeding. East Lincoln had to travel to play Boonville Starmount (then 10-0) in the first round and was eliminated with a 21-13 loss. But the Mustangs were fun to watch, and McDowell was one of the area’s most electric talents as a runner, receiver and kick returner.
The Titans did a good job playing catch-up all season, considering their circumstances. Coach David Johnson wasn’t hired until early July, and it took time for him and the team to acclimate. After an up-and-down performance in non-conference games, Hopewell rallied to beat Hough, 24-23, and Lake Norman, 50-26, in key I-MECK 4A conference games. That was followed by a gut-wrenching, last-minute, 22-19 loss to Mooresville. A blowout loss to Mallard Creek the following week looked like it would doom the Titans’ playoff chances. But the team rallied by getting some key players back from injury and beating rival North Mecklenburg, 33-6, in the finale to secure a playoff spot. Then, Hopewell went on the road to beat Skyland Roberson, 14-9, in the first round of the Class 4AA playoffs. It was the team’s most complete game of the season, which Johnson credited to he and the players being comfortable and productive with each other. The Titans were eliminated by Monroe Sun Valley in the second round of the playoffs. Hopewell’s Denzel Heath, the lake area’s lone player picked for the Shrine Bowl, rushed for more than 1,500 yards and averaged about eight tackles at linebacker. He made key plays all season and helped the Titans extend their playoff appearance streak to seven years. Look for marked improvement as Hopewell benefits from an offseason with its new coach.
4. LAKE NORMAN
The Wildcats were this close to flirting with a .500 record and will lament close losses to West Iredell (by three points), Statesville (four points) and Vance (six points). Lake Norman had to deal with replacing its quarterback right before the season began. But the offense relied on depth at running back with Kyle Gradert, Dylan Miller, Corey Davis and Josh Ladowski, and solid blocking by the linemen. Another key weapon was kicker Allen Robertson, who averaged 35 yards per punt, boomed 21 kickoffs into the end zone and set a school record with a 44-yard field goal (twice). Garrett Kight was the team’s top defensive force, with 78 tackles, 12 sacks, three fumble recoveries and three blocked kicks.
The Wildcats sealed a playoff spot with a 20-9 victory against Hough in an I-MECK 4A conference game late in the regular season. Lake Norman was eliminated in a 35-0 loss at South Caldwell in the first round of the playoffs but should benefit from the experience of playing important games, with playoff implications, late in the season.
The good news is that the Huskies doubled their victory total in their second season of play. The bad news is the rash of injuries to key players – not to mention the transfer of standout linebacker Brian Jones – that coach Bobby Collins’ squad was forced to battle. Hough recovered defensively after giving up 38 and 55 points in its first two games (both losses). The high point was a 24-21 victory against West Charlotte on Oct. 6, which seemed to put the Huskies in good shape for a playoff spot. But that was followed by lopsided losses to Mooresville, Lake Norman and Mallard Creek in I-MECK 4A conference games, and the Huskies missed the playoffs.
Safety Nate Mays (91 tackles, four interceptions), strong safety Ben Craig (80 tackles, including 19 for losses) and tackle Blake Dueitt (seven sacks) were defensive standouts.
The offense was up and down but shined when Jackson Campbell (814 rushing yards) and Josh Stilley (802 passing yards) were healthy. Brandon Mobley was one of the area’s most versatile players, with three interceptions as a defensive back, 38 receptions for 408 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver, and 447 kick return yards. The Huskies were a mystifying 0-5 at home.
6. LAKE NORMAN CHARTER
The Knights made huge strides in 2011, winning four more games than they did during a dismal 1-9 season in 2010. Lake Norman Charter debuted as a member of the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A conference and was competitive against its new neighbors. Junior Alex Scearce was a do-it-all star for the Knights. He accounted for 24 touchdowns at five positions – receiver, running back, kick returner, quarterback and defensive back. He was named all-conference at receiver and punt returner. Lake Norman Charter also had all-conference performers in Lee Bobo (defensive back and kick returner), Sean Kane (linebacker) and Conner Peterson (center).
Coach Bob McKay’s squad qualified for the Class 1A playoffs but was eliminated by South Stokes in the first round. But by most measures, it was a successful season. The roster grew, as did the excitement on campus as the Knights played meaningful games and won. They’ve seen how hard work can pay off and what happens when a newish program sticks to its plan.