#FNFrenzy Regional semifinal football preview

#FNFrenzy Regional semifinal football preview

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#FNFrenzy Regional semifinal football preview

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Mallard Creek will host Providence in third round action Friday.

Mallard Creek will host Providence in third round action Friday.

In the second round of the NCHSAA state playoffs, we saw a little bit of everything. Previously undefeated Independence was dominated at home by Hough, underdog Providence defeated the No. 1 overall seed in 4AA, and Vance barely escaped feisty 16 seed Ragsdale at home. In 3AA, Union County powerhouses Cuthbertson and Weddington rolled to easy victories. East Rowan’s Cinderella run continued with another gutsy road win, while South Point went to Concord and gave the Spiders an early playoff exit.

With the third round comes the added pressure of an opportunity to reach the state semifinals. In what could be called the elite eight, the Charlotte area is fortunate to be well-represented in the playoffs.

Providence (10-3, 5-1 Away) at Mallard Creek (12-1, 7-0 Home)

Providence High School is still alive in the state playoffs, and the Panthers used some late-game heroics to pull off a major upset of No. 1 seed East Forsyth last week. With less than a minute to go, sophomore backup quarterback Drake Deluliis rushed into the endzone from nine yards out, giving the Panthers a 22-21 lead. Drake filled in nicely for the injured Caleb York, accounting for 281 total yards and three total touchdowns in the victory. Brian Mattar had another solid night, rushing for 97 yards and 13 carries. John Biasucci carried the torch for the Providence receivers, hauling in five receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown in the victory.

In a highly anticipated rematch, Butler walloped Butler 56-14 on Friday. The Mavericks’ James Smith was as impressive as he’s ever been, rushing for 173 yards and four touchdowns in the victory. After jumping out to a quick 14-0 lead, Butler crept back into the game behind Anthony Ratliff-Williams and Benjamin LeMay. That’s when Smith took over, scoring the next four touchdowns in the game, giving the Creek a 42-14 lead midway through the third quarter. Following an injury to Ratliff-Williams, Mallard Creek’s defense took advantage of Butler’s passing game, picking off the Bulldogs four times down the stretch, including two pick-sixes to wrap up the third quarter with a 56-14 lead. Despite not making a catch, Vernon Grier started the game right, housing the opening kickoff to get the home crowd on their feet out of the gate.

Providence is a talented team with a lot of heart, but Mallard Creek’s talent will prove to be too much for the Panthers to overcome on the road.

USA TODAY High School Sports Predictor: Mallard Creek 41, Providence 20

Hough (10-3, 5-2 Away) at Lake Norman (12-1, 7-0 Home)

In a rematch of an early season classic, Hough will visit Lake Norman. The Huskies rallied back from a 31-14 fourth quarter deficit to defeat Lake Norman 35-31. Miles Aldridge’s Huskies pulled off what many think might be the upset of the year last week, dominating Independence 42-29 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Bishop Ford had an impressive game, rushing for 185 yards and a score to lead the Huskies. Clemson commit Van Smith also had a big night, scoring twice, highlighted by a 95-yard kickoff return. Corey Bell, Jr. intercepted one pass for the Huskies, and Hough’s ability to protect the ball led to their win against the Pats. With another high-profile offense on the schedule, the Huskies will need to repeat last week’s performance if they plan on reaching the state semifinals.

In the most recent #FNFrenzy Game of the Week, Josh Ladowski shined for Rob McNeely’s club in a 41-26 victory. Ladowski accounted for all six of Lake Norman’s touchdowns, including four on the ground. Ladowski’s total yardage number hit 444 in the victory. Lake Norman wide out Corey Joyner had a big night with 120 receiving yards and a touchdown on six receptions. Jarett Schott stepped up for the Wildcats’ defense, racking up 11 total tackles in the victory over Ardrey Kell.

In what will be a great matchup, Hough’s talented defense will meet Lake Norman’s high octane offense. The Wildcats were able to open up a big lead against the Huskies in round one, but weren’t able to close out the game. You won’t want to miss this one on Friday night.

USA TODAY High School Sports Predictor: Lake Norman 41, Hough 38

Rocky River (9-4, 3-3 Away) at Vance (10-3, 5-1 Home)

In a game featuring two teams playing above their seed, Rocky River will visit Vance. The Ravens’ defense has been feisty in the playoffs, surrendering an average of 8.5 points per game. The Ravens took advantage of last week’s home game by defeating Mount Tabor 26-14 to advance to the third round. Rocky River’s 2-0 lead in the turnover battle was a huge factor in the Ravens’ win. Tailback Elijah Jett put in some tough work for Rocky River, finishing the game with 168 yards on 33 carries. South Carolina commit Jaire Alexander found paydirt twice in the game, helping the Ravens get their offense rolling in the first half.

Vance survived another sloppy contest last week, defeating Ragsdale 21-19. The Cougars overcame four turnovers to pull out the win. Donnavan Spencer ran hard for Aaron Brand’s team, tallying 164 yards on 25 carries. Omar Baker connected with Myles Dorn in the third quarter to give the Cougars a 21-6 lead. Ragsdale refused to go quietly, but were unable to completely dig out of the hole the Cougars put them in early. When the Cougars play smart and play mistake-free, the talent in orange and blue is as good as anyone. That’s what makes them so scary, when you take into account they turn over the ball four times and still score 21 points in a victory.

In a game with some exceptional talent on offense, the scoreboard should get plenty of work when the Ravens meet the Cougars.

USA TODAY High School Sports Predictor: Vance 33, Rocky River 27

Class 4A Predictions

Charlotte Catholic 48, Reagan 31

Statesville (9-4, 4-2 Away) at Cuthbertson (10-3, 7-0 Home)

In what many, myself included, considered an upset, Statesville defeated Hickory Ridge 39-30 in a thriller last week. The Greyhounds and Bulls battled back and forth in the second half, providing a highlight-reel battle in the second round. Statesville’s Travis Ramseur was impressive as usual, totaling 287 yards and four rushing touchdowns. Statesville’s Jeff Turner was held to just one catch, and Thomas Brown hauled in five passes, but only picked up 25 yards. Statesville’s offense relies on Ramseur, and they’ll need a huge effort from him to top Cuthbertson.

#FNFrenzy Player of the Year candidate Austin Kendall put his skill on display against Asheboro last week, throwing six touchdowns in the Cavaliers’ 48-14 win. Kendall was 24-37 for 332 yards with a passer rating of 133.1 Cody Wilson also found the endzone on the ground, rushing for 32 yards along the way. Kendall’s receiving corps proved to be unstoppable, with four receivers scoring. Brian Muckelvene hauled in seven passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns with a long of 40 yards. Sophomore JT Cauthen also grabbed seven balls and two touchdowns in the game.

Offense will again be on display in Union County, with two star quarterbacks doing what they do best when it matters most.

USA TODAY High School Sports Predictor: Cuthbertson 49, Statesville 28

Class 3AA Predictions

Weddington 42, Asheville 38

Forestview (11-2, 5-1 Away) at Crest (13-0, 8-0 Home)

The 3A playoffs have been a series of blowouts up to this point for Crest and Forestview. The Jaguars defeated Pisgah 37-13 last week on the heels of a 48-14 beatdown of East Gaston. Junior back Moe Neal led the way for Forestview last week, rushing for 127 yards and three touchdowns. The Jaguars totaled 136 yards on the ground in the game and five touchdowns. Senior Montavis Rogers was all over the place on defensive, racking up 13 tackles against Pisgah. Rhett Jenkins wreaked havoc in the backfield, sacking Pisgah’s quarterback three times. The Jaguars were able to corral Pisgah passers seven times in the victory.

Tre Harbison put the Crest Chargers on his back again last week, rushing for 194 yards and four scores in a 28-7 victory against West Rowan. Harbison has been incredible for the Chargers this year, and his performance is a decent barometer for Crest’s results. Harbison now has seven touchdowns in the playoffs and 366 rushing yards in two games. Senior Dominique Roseboro picked up another interception in last week’s game.

Crest remains a favorite to advance to the state championship in 3A, but Forestview isn’t going to bow down to the powerful Chargers.

USA TODAY High School Sports Predictor: Crest 35, Forestview 17

East Rowan (7-6, 5-3 Away) at South Point (9-4, 3-4 Home)

The Cinderella story of the playoffs has to be the East Rowan Mustangs. The Mustangs entered the 3A playoffs as the No. 15 overall seed in the west bracket. Knowing they’d be on the road every week, Kenneth McClamrock’s team has answered the bell bigger than most anyone would expect. Quarterback Sam Wyrick has been outstanding, passing for over 500 yards and six touchdowns in two games. Last week Wyrick was 12-17 for 175 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Max Wall left his mark on West Henderson, rushing for 161 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Senior receiver Seth Wyrick had his way with West Henderson’s secondary, catching six passes for 101 yards and a touchdown in last week’s victory.

South Point’s prolific triple option was on display last week against Concord. The Red Raiders ran up and down EZ Smith Field all night long, piling up an eye-popping 429 yards on the ground. Senior quarterback Jaquan Brooks atoned for last season’s playoff loss against Concord, ripping off 256 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. Ryland Etherton was just as lethal, picking up 112 yards and a touchdown. South Point’s defense was led by the duo of Yale Loucks and Tyler Hall, who combined for 22 total tackles in the game.

While no one anticipated this kind of run from East Rowan in the playoffs, the Mustangs revel in proving the doubters wrong. Both of these teams score points in bunches, and it might come down to who has the ball last.

USA TODAY High School Sports Predictor: South Point 42, East Rowan 34

Class 2AA Predictions

East Lincoln 45, Lincolnton 28

Franklin 17, Monroe 14

Class 2A Predictions

Shelby 27, Reidsville 21

Mount Pleasant 35, Owen 28

Class 1A Predictions

Thomas Jefferson Academy 26, Alleghany 14

For more Mallard Creek High School sports photos, check out http://jonathanaguallo.smugmug.com/

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