Whoever said 13 was an unlucky number never met this football team and this postseason run.
Reynolds is the second-lowest seed (No. 13) left in the NCHSAA playoffs, regardless of classification next to No. 16 Monroe Parkwood in 2-AA.
The Rockets (9-4) will try to continue defying expectations tonight with a third-round game at the top-seeded team in the 3-AA Western Regional division, Shelby Crest (12-1).
Kickoff is set for 7:30.
“Our goal every year is to win a conference championship and have a chance to play for the big one (a state championship),” Reynolds coach Shane Laws said.
“We came up short on the first one. But that other goal is still out there for this team, and as I said, it’s something we work toward every year.”
A.J. Logan (830 yards, 12 touchdowns) ran for a career-high 231 yards and four touchdowns in last Friday’s 52-49 triple-overtime win at No. 5 Statesville. As a result, the sophomore was the latest Citizen-Times Western North Carolina Player of the Week.
Strong passing game
Logan’s quarterback, senior Levi Ledford (2,366 yards and 21 touchdowns with seven interceptions), set a school record for career touchdowns passes (40) a week ago.
Ledford has spread the ball around to C.J. Allen (44 receptions for 638 yards and five touchdowns), Caelan Rhinehardt-Walker (34 receptions for 439 yards and five touchdowns) and Chance Towery (27 receptions for 438 yards and four touchdowns) this season.
Rhinehardt-Walker (1,257 career receiving yards) needs just 18 more to break the school record (1,274) held by 2011 graduate Cody Owenby. Rhinehardt-Walker’s 100 receptions are already the most ever by a Rockets player.
Shrine Bowl lineman Cameron Burton is the center for the Rockets offense and fellow senior Thomas Blakey has broken or tied 14 school kicking records this fall. Andrew Swicegood (110 tackles, 11 for a loss) is the leading tackler for the defense, followed by Andrew Long (71), Jake Cardillo (70), Joseph Swicegood (69), Chance Towery (59) and Khiry Lytle (59).
Lytle’s third interception of the season was the play that ended Statesville’s last possession.
Crest was ranked No. 5 in the season’s final Associated Press 3-A poll and is coached by Mark Barnes, who went 12-12 in two years at Brevard before resigning in 2009.
The Chargers’ only loss this season came at home to South Point (35-16 on Aug. 23). Reynolds was outgunned by South Point, 52-35, on Sept. 20.
Crest, which has won 12 consecutive games, beat Roberson 44-34 on Sept. 20.
“Crest has been here before and done this plenty of times,” Laws said.
“So you’re not getting someone who is just happy to be here. We have got a lot of respect for Crest and we’re going to have to be ready to play and be the best team we can be (tonight). We can’t turn the football over, and we’ve got to be able to control the run if we can’t stop it altogether.”
The Chargers have a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in sophomore Tre Harbison and senior Jalin Moore.
Sophomore Chris Willis made nine tackles (two solo) in last Friday’s 23-13 second-round win over No. 9 Ashbrook. And the Chargers defense as a whole forced four turnovers.
Crest crushed visiting Reynolds, 65-15, last year in a regular-season game. The Rockets lead the all-time series, 3-2, but that includes a 17-7 playoff loss in 2008 that later was overturned due to a Chargers’ forfeit.