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2022 High School Football – Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference and Mountain Island Charter

By Richard Walker

With seven state titles in the last nine years, it’s not hard to imagine Shelby would be the favorite in the Southern Piedmont Conference race.

But it’s also equally certain how county rival Burns will provide the Golden Lions with their stiffest challenge of perhaps any team in the state.

Both teams return loads of talent and future collegians.

The real battle will be in the 1A race of the split classification conference.

A year ago, Thomas Jefferson took that No. 1 playoff seed but this year Cherryville is favored to take that top seeding.

Here is the preseason coaches’ poll:

1. Shelby
2. Burns
3. East Gaston
4. Cherryville
5. Thomas Jefferson
6. Bessemer City
7. Highland Tech

And here is a look at the team in the league from Gaston and Cleveland counties:

Bessemer City
Coach: Shane Short (1st year)
Coaching staff: Kyle Creed. Mo Perez, Billy Beatty, Jarrod Holmes, Lance Camp, Blake Hiott, Desmond Lowery, Prosper Muna, Tyler Phillips
Returning starters: 7
Starters lost: 15
2021 record: 2-9, 1-5 (1st round playoffs)
Top returning players: QB Jameer Holmes, WR C.J. Williams, OL Seth Glance, DL Kamarion Degree, LB Mason Chastain, WR/DB Vontre Duff, WR Terrence Smith
Top newcomers: RB Anthony Smith, WR Amari Barnette, OL Rylie Gaston, DB/RB Achilies Littlejohn
Season outlook: New coach comes to Bessemer City after eight years at nearby Kings Mountain as an assistant coach. He returns seven starters and has been impressed with offseason workout numbers since being hired. He replaces the school’s winningest coach in Larry Boon e (93 victories in 18 seasons).
All-time record: 331-560-35 (since 1925)
Schedule:
Aug. 19 Community School of Davidson
Aug. 26 Cramer
Sept. 2 at Pine Lake Prep
Sept. 9 at Christ the King
Sept. 16 THOMAS JEFFERSON
Sept. 23 at HIGHLAND TECH
Sept. 30 at BURNS
Oct. 7 EAST GASTON
Oct. 14 SHELBY
Oct. 21 OFF
Oct. 28 at CHERRYVILLE

Burns
Coach: David Devine (8th year, 43-40)
Coaching staff: Ledford Gibson, David Diamont, Daniel Coggins, Nathan Geter, Morrio Clark, Alex Leonhardt, Howard Sims, Travis Withrow, Larry Allen, Sherwin Brown, Thurman Geter, Butch Packard, Ethan Martin
Returning starters: 16
Starters lost: 6
2021 record: 8-4, 5-1 (2nd round playoffs)
Top returning players: WR/DB Ryan Thompson, WR/LB Cahari Haynes, QB Ben Mauney, RB Jeremiah Norris, WR/DB L.J. Allen, DE Nick Vinson, DB Lamont Wilson, RB/DB Jakari Geter, DL Kavion Hopper, OL Colton Stines, OL/LB Caleb Byrd
Top newcomers: WR/DB Johnny Johnson, WR/DB Kamari Surratt
Season outlook: With 16 returning starters, including 2,164-passer Mauney, 1,207-yard rusher Jeremiah Norris, 1,253-yard receiver Thompson and Appalachian State recruit Haynes, the Bulldogs are poised for a big year in a conference that features state power Shelby.
All-time record: 316-301-3 (since 1967)
Schedule:
Aug. 19 Forestview
Aug. 26 at Crest
Sept. 2 at Kings Mountain
Sept. 9 Watauga
Sept. 16 at HIGHLAND TECH
Sept. 23 OFF
Sept. 30 BESSEMER CITY
Oct. 7 at THOMAS JEFFERSON
Oct. 14 at EAST GASTON
Oct. 21 CHERRYVILLE
Oct. 28 SHELBY

Cherryville
Coach: Tim Pruitt (9th year, 26-62)
Coaching staff: Scott Jenkins (Defensive Coordinator/LB), Dell Garren (DL), Tim Moss (OL), Chapel Moss (RB), Matt Powers (DB), Will Puckett (WR), Josh Garren (DL), Leroy Montgomery (Manager)
Returning starters: 14
Starters lost: 7
2021 record: 3-8, 2-4 (1st round playoffs)
Top returning players: Slot/FS/LS/KR Landon Hahn, QB/LB Chase Miller, LB Kam Bolin, OG/DT Jack Dellinger, OG/DT Corey Alston, FB/LB Elijah Gibson, TE/DE Tobias Miller, Slot/SS Tanner Sisk, C Gage Vernon, TE/NG Caleb Hovis
Top newcomers: TB/DE Shamyr Moss, QB/SE/CB Josh Ward, SE/S Hunter Jackson
Season outlook: Cherryville has a senior-laden team with 14 returning starters but the Ironmen also play one of the most challenging schedules in the state; Five of their 2A opponents won at least one playoff game last season. Cherryville’s offense will feature Miller and Hahn, who were one of the top pass-catch duos in the area last season.
All-time record: 359-555-28 (since 1926)
Schedule:
Aug. 19 Avery County
Aug. 26 at West Lincoln
Sept. 2 at Blacksburg, S.C.
Sept. 9 Chase
Sept. 16 SHELBY
Sept. 23 at EAST GASTON
Sept. 30 OFF
Oct. 7 HIGHLAND TECH
Oct. 14 at THOMAS JEFFERSON
Oct. 21 at BURNS
Oct. 28 BESSEMER CITY

East Gaston
Coach: T.J. Postell (3rd year, 10-10)
Coaching staff: DC/ILB Clint Jordan, DB Jay Benton, OLB T.J. Sanders, DL David Sides, WR Jamie Cogdill, OL/TE Dave DeLaO, RB Greg Williams
Returning starters: 11
Starters lost: 11
2021 record: 8-5, 4-2
Top returning players: LB Jake Fox, RB/LB Ben Summey, RB Nehemiah Stovall, OL Jake Jenkins, TE/DE Cody Scott, WR/DB Austin Price, WR/DB
Clay Harper, QB Trenton Sherrill, LB Payton Parker, OL Johny Brown, RB/LB Chase Johnson, OL/DL Garrett McAulay, OL/DL Braden Cross, OL Preston Kennard, OL/DL Christian Clark, LB Logan Dixon, OL/DL Michael Jaggers
Top newcomers: WR John Michael Green, RB/LB Shelden Clark, RB/LB Ethan Hilderbran, WR/DB Jayce Rowe, DL Antonio Ford, DL Donovan Reid
Season outlook: AFter the school’s best season since 2006, the Warriors have some rebuilding to do in a challenging conference but do have 11 starters and lots of experience returning in hopes of another strong season.
All-time record: 179-352-3 (since 1972)
Schedule:
Aug. 19 North Gaston
Aug. 26 at South Point
Sept. 2 Cramer
Sept. 9 OFF
Sept. 16 at Cherokee
Sept. 23 CHERRYVILLE
Sept. 30 at THOMAS JEFFERSON
Oct. 7 at BESSEMER CITY
Oct. 14 BURNS
Oct. 21 at SHELBY
Oct. 28 HIGHLAND TECH

 

Highland Tech
Coach: Pedro Truesdale (3rd year, 1-14)
Coaching staff: no information provided
Returning starters: no information provided
Starters lost: no information provided
2021 record: 0-10, 0-6 (1st round playoffs)
Top returning players: no information provided
Top newcomers: no information provided
Season outlook: Rams made the playoffs a year ago but face quite the daunting task to win games against such a challenging schedule.
All-time record: 35-169 (since 2002)
Schedule:
Aug. 19 Carolina Bearcats
Aug. 26 at Hickory Grove Christian
Sept. 2 at W-S Carver
Sept. 9 at Draughn
Sept. 16 BURNS
Sept. 23 BESSEMER CITY
Sept. 30 at SHELBY
Oct. 7 at CHERRYVILLE
Oct. 14 OFF
Oct. 21 THOMAS JEFFERSON
Oct. 28 at EAST GASTON

 

Shelby
Coach: Mike Wilbanks (4th year, 35-5)
Coaching staff: Adam Webber, Aubrey Hollifield, Chris Ward, Chris Emery, Damon Scott, Dobson Collins, Jamie Dunaway, Justin Bowden, Ray Barkley, Steven Degree
Returning starters: 12
Starters lost: 10
2021 record: 15-1, 6-0 (2A state champion)
Top returning players: QB Daylin Lee, WR Ja’Keith Hamilton, C Jackie Ross, DL Tyler Boyce, S T.J. Griffin, WR Izay Bridges, DL Jaden Pierce, CB Canden McGill, K Jack Berkowitz, OL Jamari Houston, RB Bricen Kee, LB Drew Hollifield, LB Cam Anderson, LB Nick Norris, DL Jay McNeilly
Top newcomers: RB/DB Tristan Tate. OL Scotland Dover, DL L.J. Watkins
Season outlook: Even with 10 departing starters including several collegians, Shelby reloads behind record-setting Lee and several other talented players. Boyce, who recently committed to Wofford, will be one of the defensive leaders.
All-time record: 830-306-41 (since 1910)
Schedule:
Aug. 19 Kings Mountain
Aug. 26 A.C. Reynolds
Sept. 2 at Crest
Sept. 9 at Hibriten
Sept. 16 at CHERRYVILLE
Sept. 23 THOMAS JEFFERSON
Sept. 30 HIGHLAND TECH
Oct. 7 OFF
Oct. 14 at BESSEMER CITY
Oct. 21 EAST GASTON
Oct. 28 at BURNS

 

Mountain Island Charter will be motivated to get back into postseason play after a late-season fight led to the Raptors’ being disqualified from last year’s N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

This year, coming off a 9-1 season, five returning starters give MIC hope of moving up from second place to the top spot in the Catawba Shores 1A/2A Conference.

Mountain Island Charter
Coach: Robert Washington (8th year, 54-24)
Coaching staff: Jerry Baker, Josh Mills, Chris Campfield, Ronnie Hunter, Jack Gardner, Derrick Howell, Lamar Richardson
Returning starters: 5
Starters lost: 6
2021 record: 9-1, 5-1
Top returning players: DL Ashton Miller, RB Ben Patton, WR/DB Seth McEarchern, DB JoTwan Patton, DL JaMarcus Boyd, DL Nate Eaton, LB/DL Danijah McGowan-Rivers, ATH Jonavon Fisher, LB/Rb Khiyale Washington, LB Morgan Scales, LB D.J. Singletary, QB/DB Dwayne Fields, QB Tiger Coffin, WR/DB Braeden Amick, OL/DL Cam Outing
Top newcomers: ATH Reggie Daniels
Season outlook: All-Conference defensive lineman Miller (70 tackles, 13 sacks) and Patton (782 yards rushing) lead Raptors’ returnees determined the help Mountain Island Charter pursue its first league since 2019.

All-time record: 54-27 (since 2015)
Schedule:
Aug. 19 Anson County (canceled)
Aug. 26 Corvian Community
Sept. 2 OFF
Sept. 9 at Union Academy
Sept. 16 at PINE LAKE PREP
Sept. 23 COMMUNITY SCHOOL OF DAVIDSON
Sept. 29 at W-S PREP
Oct. 7 CHRIST THE KING
Oct. 14 at BISHOP McGUINNESS
Oct. 21 W-S CARVER
Oct. 28 at Lake Norman Charter