4A Southwestern Conference week five football preview

4A Southwestern Conference week five football preview


4A Southwestern Conference week five football preview

Butler and Independence both face tough tasks at home


Butler and Independence both face tough tasks at home

Rocky River goes for three-straight against Marvin Ridge Friday night.

Rocky River goes for three-straight against Marvin Ridge Friday night.

Coming into 2014, the 4A Southwestern Conference was one of the most highly anticipated conferences in the state of North Carolina. Rocky River won the conference for the first time in 2013, Independence was hoping to return to championship form, and Butler was considered a favorite to contend for the state championship. East Mecklenburg, Myers Park, Porter Ridge, and Garinger all welcomed in new head coaches for 2014.

Through four weeks, Butler and Independence are living up to the hype, while there are a myriad of questions surrounding Rocky River. Myers Park has been competitive, but Scott Chadwick’s Mustangs have been unable to win several close games. East Meck, Porter Ridge, and Garinger have all struggled in the early part of 2014.

Sun Valley (2-2) at Porter Ridge (0-4)

Sun Valley comes into their matchup with Porter Ridge on the heels of a 26-20 win at East Bladen. The Spartans are led by senior running back Albert Funderburke. Funderburke has 807 yards on the season with eight touchdowns in 2014. As he goes, so do the Spartans. If Porter Ridge wants to get their first victory of 2014, slowing down Funderburke will be priority number one. Zach Bevilacqua’s team has struggled, being outscored 153-60 in four games. If the Pirates’ offense can’t help their defense stay off the field, Funderburke and the Spartans will have a chance to roll.

USA TODAY High School Sports predictor: Sun Valley 28, Porter Ridge 27

North Mecklenburg (1-2) at Myers Park (1-3)

North Meck was idle last week, and the last time we saw the Vikings was a 38-7 trashing of East Meck. Brad Baker’s offense was able to get things rolling quickly following two difficult starts against Lake Norman and Independence. Quarterback Nolan Beasley will need another fast start if the Vikings want to win at Myers Park. Scott Chadwick’s Mustangs have dropped three-straight contests, and all three contests have been decided by seven points or fewer. Quarterback Clay Norris put together a solid second half at Providence Monday night, but the Mustangs must limit their turnovers if they want to get the victory.

USA TODAY High School Sports predictor: Myers Park 26, North Meck 20

Olympic (1-2) at East Mecklenburg (1-3)

In a battle of two teams looking for a second-straight win, South Meck 8 foe Olympic visits East Meck. The Trojans picked up a big 35-13 win at Hopewell Monday night, but have been dominated in their two games against Southwestern opponents. Keith Wilkes’ Trojans won’t have it much easier, as they face Providence, Ardrey Kell, and Charlotte Catholic the next three weeks. East Meck got the first victory of the Barry Shuford era when they crushed Harding 58-6. The Eagles have struggled across the board this year, losing three games by 30+ points. With matchups against Independence and Butler looming, this may be the best opportunity for each of these teams to get another victory.

USA TODAY High School Sports predictor: Olympic 35, East Mecklenburg 7

Hough (2-1) at Independence (4-0)

In what many are forecasting as the game of the week, Hough travels to Independence to battle the unbeaten, unscored-upon Patriots. Bishop Ford is a huge factor for the visiting Huskies, as he was impressive in an opening week victory against Sun Valley. The Huskies got off to a slow start against Lake Norman, before a 21-point fourth quarter rally gave the Huskies a 35-31 victory. Hough will need a quick start if they plan on hanging with the Patriots. Joe Evans is out to prove that the Big I is back in 2014. The Patriots have simply outclassed their opponents, outscoring them a combined 149-0 in four-straight shutouts. Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins has played smart football thus far, and the Patriots’ defense is working hard to re-establish the Independence tradition. If the Patriots can get out front early, Hough will have their work cut out for them scoring on a feisty defense. While we don’t expect another shutout, Hough has to show they can beat a team of the caliber after their dismantling at the hands of Mooresville.

USA TODAY High School Sports predictor: Independence 27, Hough 21

Richmond (4-0) at Butler (4-0)

The Richmond Raiders travel to Butler with two big wins in their pocket already. Paul Hoggard’s Raiders have already beaten Rocky River and Vance in 2014, now they look for another win against a CMS school. Butler has been in difficult games the last two weeks. A slow start last week and a 21-7 halftime deficit was quickly erased when the Bulldogs put up 42 unanswered to top Mt. Tabor 49-21. Brian Hales’ club has found a way to pull out victories the last three weeks, including a one-point win against number two Mallard Creek. Anthony Ratliff-Williams is doing everything in his power to give the Bulldogs another state championship, and a big performance this week would go a long way in proving if the Bulldogs will be a player come November.

USA TODAY High School Sports predictor: Butler 41, Richmond 34

Marvin Ridge (0-2) at Rocky River (2-2)

Marvin Ridge comes into Friday’s game at Rocky River looking for their first victory. Brad Hoover’s Mavericks have been close, losing both of their games by a combined 10 points. Last week’s scheduled game against Carolina Pride was cancelled due to inclement weather. After a slow start hampered by injuries, Jason Fowler’s Ravens are on a two-game winning streak. Rocky River picked up wins at Sun Valley and at home against Hunter Huss on Monday. Jaire Alexander and Naiil Ramadan are the catalysts for the Ravens, and if they’re able to get it going, Rocky River is hard to stop. Look for the Ravens to make it three-straight against the struggling Mavericks.

USA TODAY High School Sports predictor: Rocky River 28, Marvin Ridge 6


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