There’s no conference in Charlotte that is as tight as the South Meck 8 right now. With four teams being within one game of each other, the race is tight. What makes it even better is that each team is in the midst of a two-week round robin for first place. Charlotte Catholic, Providence, Ardrey Kell, and South Mecklenburg are all very much alive for the conference crown. Charlotte Catholic and Providence are the only teams in complete control of their destiny with 5-0 conference records, and the two rivals will clash November 7 in the regular season finale.
With the biggest games of the season coming on the back end of the schedule, the South Meck 8 will certainly provide fireworks for high school football fans in the Queen City.
Ardrey Kell (7-2, 4-1) at Charlotte Catholic (8-1, 5-0)
Winners of five-straight, Charlotte Catholic prepares to host Ardrey Kell as the favorite to win another conference championship. The Cougars’ offense is led by junior running back Jaret Anderson. Anderson has rushed for 1033 yards and 12 TDs, but has missed some time due to injuries. Catholic’s offense has averaged 36 points during its five-game winning streak. Defensively, the Cougars are led by Connor Miller and Michael Wilson, who have combined for 14.5 sacks this season.
Ardrey Kell bounced back from a loss against Providence with a 32-16 victory over Berry last week. The Knights’ offense has had no problem scoring this season, averaging over 40 points per game in South Meck 8 play. The last time Ardrey Kell was on the road, they fell to Providence. Adam Hastings’ squad will have to play one of their best games defensively if they want to beat the Cougars and slow down Catholic’s potent rushing attack. Ardrey Kell’s offensive line is anchored by offensive tackle Mason Veal, who will have his hands full with Catholic’s defensive front.
USA TODAY High School Sports Predictor: Charlotte Catholic 34, Ardrey Kell 14
Berry Academy (3-6, 1-4) at West Mecklenburg (1-8, 0-5)
In a battle of two teams looking to get a much-needed win, West Meck will host Berry Academy. The Cardinals have dropped four of their last five games, with all four losses coming against the teams at the top of the South Meck. The lone bright spot for Andrew Howard’s team was a 60-0 drubbing of rival Harding in the Battle of Alleghany. Berry has been all but eliminated from playoff contention, and a win against West Meck will give the Cardinals a boost as their season comes to a close next week.
West Meck has struggled this season, and the Hawks are still looking for their first win in their new stadium. The Hawks have dropped six-straight games coming into Friday’s contest, and the offense has been unable to keep it going this year. After falling in an early hole against Catholic last week, the Hawks had a 100-yard kickoff return to keep the game close in the first half. West Meck will need that kind of effort to get things turned around and finish 2014 on a good note.
USA TODAY High School Sports Predictor: Berry 28, West Meck 27
Providence (8-1, 5-0) at South Mecklenburg (7-2, 4-1)
In the second high-profile South Meck matchup, Providence hits the road to face South Mecklenburg. Providence has reeled off eight-straight victories, and the Panthers might be the hottest team in Charlotte. Providence’s offense has leaders all across the leaderboard in the conference, led by quarterback Caleb York’s 1421 yards and 14 TDs. Running back Brian Mattar has rushed for 1059 yards and 14 TDs, and has scored 96 points for Providence. Dru Seabrook is the anchor of the Panthers’ defense, piling up 10 sacks this season. On the backside of the Providence D, Tyler Pistorio and Devon Kent have combined for 5 interceptions.
South Meck comes into this week’s game on the heels of an ugly victory against Olympic last week. The Sabres blocked two Olympic punts last week, but were unable to cash in offensively, settling for two field goals deep in Trojan territory. Rocky White’s club is playing some of the best defense in the conference, allowing just 18 points per game in conference play. South Meck will need their defense to show up in a big way if they plan on slowing down the Providence offense.
USA TODAY High School Sports Predictor: Providence 35, South Meck 13
Harding University (1-7, 0-5) at Olympic (3-6, 1-4)
Harding University will visit Olympic Friday in a game that will be played for pride. Both teams are on the outside looking in at the playoff hunt, and Harding is looking to snap a seven-game losing streak. The Rams have been outmatched as of late, being outscored 218-6 in their last four games. Harding has been unable to move the ball offensively, which has wasted some good effort on defense. With the Rams facing West Meck in the season finale, Walter Aikens’ team knows they have a chance to finish 2014 with a couple of victories.
Olympic lost a close one last week at South Meck, and the Trojans’ playoff hopes might have gone away with the loss. After rebounding to 2-2, the Trojans ran into a buzzsaw of a schedule, dropping four of their last five games. Olympic will have an opportunity to finish their season with five wins as they face Harding and Berry to finish 2014. A victory on Friday will be a step in the right direction for the Trojans building into 2014.
USA TODAY High School Sports Predictor: Olympic 46, Harding 6