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2018 season opens with four teams on the road

Albemarle at Thomasville

The young but improving blue-clad Albemarle Bulldogs head up the road to Cushwa Stadium in Thomasville Friday night for a renewal of the rivalry with the red-clad Bulldogs of Thomasville.
Thomasville leads the overall series 28-9 but Albemarle has the most recent win after hosting the red Bulldogs last season and earning a 13-6 victory.
Albemarle head coach Richard Davis said Thomasville may have taken his team for granted a little last year, but he believes Albemarle has Thomasville’s attention now.
With a new head coach in Doug Robertson, Davis said he already sees a difference in Thomasville on film from scrimmages this season.
He said Thomasville is athletic and has great size on the offensvive line.
“We have our hands full, but if we play like we did at the scrimmage we’ll be fine,” Davis said.
Defensively, Thomasville runs a 4-4 front while the offense works from the spread formation mostly but will occasionally run a H-back or power setup.
This week, Davis said Albemarle has worked on getting back to playing assignment football and working on blocking schemes.
Albemarle will also not be missing any players from the projected roster in Friday’s road game due to injury.
Davis said there are three keys which could lead to a win for Albemarle. The first is to take away the big play from Thomasville becasue of the team’s athleticism.
Albemarle needs to “run the ball like we’ve been doing,” he said, while also taking care of the football.

North Stanly at East Rowan

Friday’s matchup between the Comets and the East Rowan Mustangs wraps up a home-at-home series between the two football programs. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the Mustangs’ home stadium.
East Rowan has won the majority of the games in the all-time series between 1966 and 1980. The Mustangs are 17-6 lifetime over North, but the Comets have won two of the past three, including last year’s 39-25 home win.
Last season, the Mustangs finished 3-8 overall and 1-4 in the 3A North Piedmont Conference. Head coach Mike Fitz lost 12 players to graduation in his first year with the team.
The Mustangs have a number of talented seniors returning this season, including linebacker Christian Bennett, wide receiver Sam Wall and Gabe Hinceman. East also has a big impact player in 6-foot-7 Elton Hooper (DL).
On offense, Logan Forbis moves up to the varsity squad as the team’s quarterback. In the last week of 2017, he moved up from JV to throw three touchdowns in a win.
North head coach Scott Crisco said the Mustangs look improved on film and more efficient on offense, using a strong short passing game.
He added the Comets’ offensive line play is key this week while the defense must contain the Mustangs and pressure Forbis in the backfield.
The Comets also have to be balanced on offense while finding chances on the ground for both Cam Davis and D.J. Rhone to carry the football. He added he was pleased with the Comets’ passing game with new QB Bailey Baker.
Sports Editor’s Note: The Salisbury Post contributed to this story.

South Stanly at East Rutherford

The Bulls open the season on the road in Forest City against an East Rutherford team who will look very different from the team South hosted last season.
South’s only meeting ever versus the Cavaliers came last season when East Rutherford visited Norwood and shut down the Bulls’ offense. South avoided the shutout by getting a safety in the 34-2 loss.
First-year head coach Ryan Ochier said this year’s squad has good skill players, including quarterback Cameron Simmons and some of the wideouts. Whereas the Cavaliers used a tight end and H-back last season, on film at a scrimmage the team ran more of a four-wide spread offense.
Ochier said the defense this week has prepared for whichever offense East Rutherford shows them Friday night.
Defensively, Ochier said East Rutherford appeared to be a Big 12 type team from the college ranks, saying the Cavaliers “put their horses on the offensive side” and “rely on it to win games.”
South will be without projected starting quarterback Jaquez Cooke, out with a hand injury, but Ochier said his offense “has hit the ground running” with Justin Gaddy in at the position. Ochier said his mechanics “have improved on a daily basis” and he was comfortable with him running the offense.
Other than Gaddy, the Bulls will not be missing anyone due to injury for Friday’s season opener.
Defensively, the Bulls have worked on getting the team’s linebackers to run more “downhill” and doing a better job of reading what teams are doing.
In order to win, South has to “adapt to adversity,” according to Ochier.

West Stanly at NW Cabarrus

Sporting a new offense, the Colts open the 2018 season taking the drive in a northwesterly direction to the other side of Concord to take on the Northwest Cabarrus Trojans.
The Trojans have enjoyed a great deal of success against teams from Stanly. Northwest is 23-5 lifetime against the four schools since 1962, including a 61-19 win last season in Red Cross over West Stanly. Against the Colts, Northwest Cabarrus is 3-10-1 lifetime; West’s last win over the Trojans came in 2014, a 35-20 win for then-head coach James Johnson.
Head coach Brett Morton said the Trojans run a spread formation on offense, using a lot of zone read plays, while also occasionally running some I-formation power and counter plays with two backs.
“They do what they do and they do it well,” Morton said about seeing the Trojans’ offense on film.
West’s head coach said he was impressed by Northwest’s defense, especially the team’s four-man defensive front. He added he was impressed how well the defensive linemen for the Trojans “get off the ball.”
The Colts have worked on getting the team’s timing down on offense between the scrimmage and this week’s game with its new run-oriented scheme.
West also worked this week on some pursuit angles on defense and getting back into the rhythm of the games. He said the team has worked on “basic early season stuff.”
Friday night, the Colts will not be missing anyone from the starting lineup due to injury.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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