The 2021 Iredell County high school football preview

Jay Edwards, Langston Wertz Jr.
·11 min read

LAKE NORMAN

Head Coach: Jonathan Oliphant (3rd year as Lake Norman head coach).

2019 Record: 6-6 (3-4 in the I-Meck 4A Conference).

Conference: I-Meck 4A Conference/4A.

Returning Starters: 11

Returning Lettermen: 35

Key Returning Starters: Cri’shon Shepherd, Sr., DB (6-1, 165); Tanner Schmidt, Sr., LB (5-10, 205); Jake Johnson, Sr., OL (6-5, 285); Anthony Limon, Sr., QB (5-10, 175); Will Sauder, Sr., OLB (6-1, 185); Max Williamson, Sr., DL (6-2, 290); Peyton Davis, Sr., OL (6-2, 285); Christian Taylor, Sr., WR (6-2, 185); Caleb Tate, Sr., LB (5-10, 200); Luke Braswell, Sr., OL (6-1, 290); Brad Wilson, Sr., OLB (5-11, 185).

Key Returnees: Caleb Douthit, Jr., LB (5-10, 205); Cooper Marcy, Sr., DL (6-1, 210); Brandon Eakins, Sr., DB (5-10, 175); Jace Neely, Sr., WR/DB (6-2, 205); Gabe Sahley, Sr., TE/WR (6-2, 210).

Key Newcomers: Sakarri Morrison, Jr., LB (6-1, 205) (Newton Conover transfer); Alex Renken, Jr., LB (5-9, 175); Jacob Reeves, Sr., RB (5-11, 185); Jawayne Torrence, So., DL (6-0, 285)

Outlook: Lake Norman doubled their win total from 2018, going 6-6 in 2019. The Wildcats have the experience to be even better this year with 11 starters back. Senior quarterback, Anthony Limon, is back to direct the Lake Norman offense with a veteran offensive line, led by seniors in Jake Johnson (Charleston Southern commit) and Peyton Davis. The Wildcats’ defense has multiple all-conference playmakers back, including seniors, defensive back, Cri’shon Shepherd and linebackers, Will Sauder and Tanner Schmidt. Nothing will come easy in the brutal, I-Meck 4A conference with state powers, Hough, Mallard Creek and Vance looming, but the Wildcats have a senior-heavy squad that will have motivation to jump into the upper half of the I-Meck standings and get back to the postseason, where anything can happen.

MOORESVILLE

Head Coach: Joe Nixon (1st year as Mooresville head coach).

2019 Record: 7-6 (4-3 in the I-Meck 4A Conference).

Conference: I-Meck 4A Conference/4A.

Returning Starters: 6

Returning Lettermen: 28

Key Returning Starters: Ashton Edstrom, Sr., WR/RB (5-11, 190); Elijah Wilson, Jr., DB (6-2, 175); Glenwood Robinson, Sr., RB/LB (6-0, 190); Za’Heir Barnes-Vaughn, Sr., DE/OT (6-0, 230); Sean Collins, Sr., WR (6-1, 170); Ridge Swartz, Sr., OL (6-6, 285).

Key Returnees: Sirrandon Brown, Sr., WR (5-11, 140); Jehari Lackey, Sr., RB (5-11, 190); Da’Quan Morrison, Sr., DB (5-11, 160).

Key Newcomers: Davyn Reid, Jr., WR/DB (5-10, 150); Toyvan Miller, Jr., WR/RB (5-10, 155); Matt Dean, Jr., K (6-0 165).

Outlook: Mooresville has held their own in the I-Meck 4A conference with some of the best teams in the state. This year, new head coach, Joe Nixon (former West Rowan coach) looks to keep that momentum going, but only gets six starters back. The Blue Devils will look to multi-dimensional playmakers like seniors, Ashton Edstrom (556 all-purpose yards, five touchdowns) and Glenwood Robinson (417 yards rushing, five touchdowns) to help keep the offense rolling. The Mooresville defense needs all-conference performers in senior defensive end, Za’Heir Barnes-Vaughn and Elijah Wilson (five interceptions) to help slow some of the state’s most potent offenses. Mooresville will try to stay in the middle of the I-Meck 4A conference standings and return to the playoffs with a younger roster, but will have to earn every bit of it in a one of the state’s premier leagues.

NORTH IREDELL

Head Coach: David Lewis (5th year as North Iredell head coach).

2019 Record: 0-11 (0-7 in the North Piedmont conference).

Conference: North Piedmont Conference/3A.

Returning Starters: 8

Returning Lettermen: 12

Key Returning Starters: Jayden Turner, Sr., OL/DL (6-5, 280); Elijah Hurt, Sr., OL/DL (6-1, 240); Dillion Hobbs, Jr., LB/RB (5-11, 200); Hunter Nicholson, Sr., QB/DB (5-11, 160); Logan Brooks, Jr., WR/DB (5-11, 150); C.J. Parise, Sr., ATH/LB (6-2, 185); Kenny Bess, Sr., WR/DB (6-1, 170).

Key Returnees: Jeremy Burke, Sr., K/DB (5-9, 135); Ben Gaither, Sr., OL/DL (6-1, 260); Kollin Smith, Jr., TE/LB (6-2, 215).

Key Newcomers: Aaron Dalton, Jr., DB/WR (5-9, 155); John Jackson, Jr., DB/WR (5-9, 150); James Jackson, Jr., RB/LB (5-8, 155).

Outlook: The Raiders have struggled in recent years going a combined 3-41 in the last four years, including three 0-11 seasons in that span without a win in conference play since 2015.

This year, Coach David Lewis believes his team can be improved with senior offensive lineman, Jayden Turner, and classmate, quarterback, Hunter Nicholson, leading a team that is still young but excited to get back on the field. A win or two in NPC play would be a major step forward for a program that needs to build confidence.

PINE LAKE PREP

Head Coach: Austin Trotter (2nd year as Pine Lake Prep head coach).

2019 Record: 4-7 (2-6 in the South Piedmont 1A Conference).

Conference: South Piedmont 1A Conference/1AA.

Returning Starters: 8

Returning Lettermen: 16

Key Returning Starters: Nick Reid, So., WR/ATH (5-11, 170); Bradin Reppart, So., Center (OL) (5-11, 200); Sam Cornacchione, Sr., WR/TE/LB/S (6-2, 205); Reggie Sidberry, Sr., OT/DE (6-2, 215); Austin Shaw, Sr., WR/DB (5-9, 160); Hudson Stalun, So., S/LB (5-10, 170); Ben Lucier, Sr., OL/DL (6-1, 215)

Key Returnees: N/A.

Key Newcomers: Vic Garrido, Sr., QB (6-2, 210) (Hough transfer); Dean Anderson, Sr., OL/DL (6-2, 295); Sam Libbey, Sr., TE/DE (6-4, 200); Jackson Kmieciak, Sr., RB/S (5-9, 190).

Outlook: Pine Lake Prep has struggled of late with 16 wins in the last four seasons combined. But with eight starters and 16 lettermen back in year two of Coach Austin Trotter’s tenure, the Pride should have a chance to be much improved. Pine Lake Prep should benefit from senior quarterback, Hough transfer, Vic Garrido (a Division I recruit) taking control of the offense with weapons in seniors wide receivers, Nick Reid (last year’s starting QB). Sam Cornacchione (38 catches for 467 yards receiving last year) on the outside. The Pride defense will feature defensive back/linebacker, Cornacchione (62 tackles, five sacks, three interceptions), defensive end, Reggie Sidberry (66 tackles, six sacks, 17 tackles for loss) and sophomore defensive back, Hudson Stalun (38 tackles). Pine Lake Prep will try to get back above .500, in the upper half of the South Piedmont 1A conference standings and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

SOUTH IREDELL

Head Coach: Scott Miller (11th year as South Iredell head coach; 15th year at South Iredell overall).

2019 Record: 5-7 (2-3 in the North Piedmont Conference).

Conference: North Piedmont Conference/3AA.

Returning Starters: 9

Returning Lettermen: 30

Key Returning Starters: Bryce Klinger, Sr., QB/WR (5-11, 185); Will Winterhalter, Sr., OL (6-0, 200); Devin Stevenson, Sr., OL (6-0, 290); Joey Sammon, Jr., LB (6-0, 180); Dezion Scott, So., NG (5-8, 295); DeMario Park, Jr., DB (5-9, 145).

Key Returnees: Sacari Stephens, So., RB/DB (5-11, 235); Nathan Sanders, So., OG (6-0, 285); Joseph Sloan, Sr., LB (6-1, 189); Gavin Reed, Jr., OL/DL (6-2, 245).

Outlook: South Iredell slipped below .500 last year (5-7) for the first time since 2009. Coach Scott Miller, who will step down after the season, and company will look to get things back on track with senior quarterback/wide receiver, Bryce Klinger (699 yards passing) back to orchestrate the offense that boasts a veteran offensive line with seniors, Devin Stevenson and Will Winterhalter. The Vikings’ defense will needs junior linebacker, Joey Sammon (57 tackles) to step up with a younger, overall unit. South Iredell has the experience to move back up the North Piedmont conference standings and get into more favorable playoff position.

STATESVILLE

Head Coach: Randall Gusler (15th year as Statesville’s head coach; 26th year overall).

2019 Record: 12-1 (5-0 in the North Piedmont Conference).

Conference: North Piedmont Conference/3A.

Returning Starters: 7

Returning Lettermen: 18

Key Returning Starters: Bartelo Aguilar, Sr., OL (5-9, 235); Collin Vinson, Sr., OL (6-4, 230); Kinstin Reaves, Sr., DL (6-2, 280); Quantay Brown, Jr., RB/LB (5-10, 195); Zamari Stevenson, Jr., QB/DB (5-10, 150); Josh Agnew, Sr., DE (6-2, 210); Steven Hamby, So., OL (6-4, 295).

Key Returnees: N/A.

Key Newcomers: Dalton McCullough, OL; Chris Brown, Sr., WR; Sincere Caldwell, WR.

Outlook: Statesville’s perfect season came to screeching halt in a 2nd round loss to Kings Mountain. This year, the Greyhounds will have a lot to prove after being hard hit by graduation and transfers. Statesville will look to a veteran offensive line with seniors, Bartelo Aguilar and Colin Vinson and sophomore, Steven Hamby, paving the way for emerging playmakers like juniors in running back, Quantay Brown, and quarterback, Zamari Stevenson. Meanwhile, the Greyhounds’ defense will look to seniors, Kinstin Reaves (48 tackles) and Braxton Peters (67 tackles) to help slow their opponents. Statesville looks to win its 3rd straight, NPC title, but will need multiple skill players to emerge to prove they can reload rather than have to rebuild.

WEST IREDELL

Head Coach: Shannon Ashley (1st year as West Iredell head coach).

2019 Record: 6-6 (4-3 in the Northwest Foothills’ 2A Conference).

Conference: Northwest Foothills’ 2A Conference/2AA.

Returning Starters: 5

Returning Lettermen: 7

Key Returning Starters: Seth Hinson, Sr., OL/DE (6-2, 260); Eric Dalton, So., RB/LB (5-10, 210); Elijah Munoz, Jr., QB/DB (6-0, 185); Hunter Rotten, Sr., OL/LB (5-11, 225); Caleb Alford, Sr., RB/LB (5-10, 170); Eric Hayes, Sr., WR/OLB (6-1, 180).

Key Returnees: N/A.

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: West Iredell has been much improved in the last three years going 16-19 in that span, including a 6-6 record last year. The Warriors will have some growing pains with only six starters back, but will need junior quarterback, Elijah Munoz, and senior offensive lineman, Seth Hinson, to lead the offense. Meanwhile, the Warriors’ defense will lean on junior linebacker, Eric Hayes (51 tackles) and senior defensive back, Caleb Alford (35 tackles). A younger, West Iredell team will have to grow up quickly in a competitive, Northwest Foothills’ 2A conference, but still have a good shot to stay in upper half of the league race and back in the playoffs for a second straight season.

Iredell County Conference Predictions

I-Meck 4A Conference

  1. Vance; 2. Hough; 3. Mallard Creek; 4. Lake Norman; 5. Mooresville; 6. Hopewell; 7. North Mecklenburg; 8. West Charlotte.

North Piedmont Conference

  1. Statesville; 2. West Rowan; 3. South Iredell; 4. East Rowan; 5. Carson; 6. North Iredell.

Northwest Foothills’ 2A Conference

  1. Hibriten; 2. West Iredell; 3. Draughn; 4. Bunker Hill; 5. Fred T. Foard; 6. East Burke; 7. West Caldwell; 8. Patton.

South Piedmont 1A Conference

1. Mountain Island Charter; 2. Thomas Jefferson Academy; 3. Pine Lake Prep; 4. Bessemer City; 5. Community School of Davidson; 6. Union Academy; 7. Cherryville; 8. Highland Tech; 9. Christ the King.

Preseason All-County team

Offense

QB – Vic Garrido, Pine Lake Prep, 6-2, 210, Sr.

RB – Quantay Brown, Statesville, 5-10, 195, Jr.

RB – Glenwood Robinson, Mooresville, 6-0, 190, Sr.

WR – Ashton Edstrom, Mooresville, 5-11, 190, Sr.

WR – Christian Taylor, Lake Norman, 6-2, 185, Sr.

OL – Seth Hinson, West Iredell, 6-2, 260, Sr.

OL – Jake Johnson, Lake Norman, 6-5, 285, Sr.

OL – Bradin Reppart, Pine Lake Prep, 5-11, 200, So.

OL – Ridge Swartz, Mooresville, 6-6, 285, Sr.

OL – Jayden Turner, North Iredell, 6-5, 280, Sr.

OL – Will Winterhalter, South Iredell, 6-0, 200, Sr.

ATH – Anthony Limon, Lake Norman, 5-10, 175, Sr.

Specialists

ATH/SPEC – Bryce Klinger, South Iredell, 5-11, 185, Sr.

K/P – Sam Bucker, Statesville, 5-9, 170, So.

Defense

DL – Max Williamson, Lake Norman, 6-2, 290, Sr.

DL – Kinstin Reaves, Statesville, 6-2, 280, Sr.

DL – Reggie Sidberry, Pine Lake Prep, 6-2, 215, Sr.

DL – Za’Heir Barnes-Vaughn, Mooresville, 6-0, 230, Sr.

LB – Will Sauder, Lake Norman, 6-1, 190, Sr.

LB – Sam Cornacchione, Pine Lake Prep, 6-2, 205, Sr.

LB – Tanner Schmidt, Lake Norman, 5-10, 205, Sr.

LB – Joey Sammon, South Iredell, 6-0, 180, Jr.

DB – Cri’son Shepherd, Lake Norman, 6-1, 165, Sr.

DB – Elijah Wilson, Mooresville, 6-2, 175, Jr.

DB – Caleb Alford, West Iredell, 5-10, 170, Sr.

DB – Hudson Stalun, Pine Lake Prep, 5-10, 170, So.

Iredell County Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Vic Garrido, Pine Lake Prep, QB, Sr.

Iredell County Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Will Sauder, Lake Norman, LB, Sr.

Iredell County Schools’ Preseason Coach of the Year: Randall Gusler, Statesville.