9-23-21 roundup: High school football, boys soccer, baseball, volleyball and cross country, Pro football and baseball, College football, Middle school football and softball

By Richard Walker

As the high school football season hits the midway point of the 11-week, 10-game season on Friday, we look at individuals who have shined brighest so far this season.

Mountain Island Charter’s Dylan Bisson is the area’s leading passer.

Already, two quarterbacks in Cleveland, Gaston and Lincoln counties have surpassed 1,000 yards passing and many others are having strong seasons. No running backs or receivers have surpassed 1,000 yards but two running backs and one receiver are on pace to eclipse that milestone.

Here are the passing, rushing and receiving leaders for schools that have reported their statistics: (Statistics unavailable for Ashbrook, Highland Tech, Huss)

Passing yards
Dylan Bisson, Mtn Isl Charter 1,241
Daylin Lee, Shelby 1,045
Ben Mauney, Burns 881
Kandan Zollo, North Gaston 750
Justin Rocquemore, Cramer 746
Austin Parker, Forestview 536
Tyler Mizzell, East Lincoln 496
Trenton Sherrill, East Gaston 473
Chase Miller, Cherryville 456
Nytavious Huskey, Crest 438

Rushing yards
Tyson Riley, South Point 745
Mason Avery, West Lincoln 661
Mari Adams, Crest 451
Justice Cooper, Bessemer City 449
Justin Hill, East Gaston 401
Brennen Rogers, North Lincoln 348
Trace Gilmore, West Lincoln 346
Markel McKinney, East Gaston 338
Kyle Kovalchuk, North Lincoln 316
J.J. Gordon, North Gaston 310

Receiving yards
Reginald Taylor, Mtn Isl Charter 527
Ryan Thompson, Burns 445
Brian Coley, North Gaston 373
Cole Hart, Mtn Isl Charter 360
Dameian Bentley, Cramer 320
Markell Clark, East Lincoln 303
Landon Hahn, Cherryville 267
Ja’Keith Hamilton, Shelby 251
Randall Pettus, Bessemer City 237
Aiden Cloninger, East Gaston 236

Here’s a look at Friday’s matchups:

Ashbrook at Forestview
Series: Ashbrook leads 14-6
Storyline: Forestview has won two straight games while Ashbrook has only played two games (both losses). Ashbrook hopes to repeat what it did in the spring when a 9-7 win over the rival Jaguars sparked the Green Wave to its first winning season since 2013.

Cramer at Crest
Series: Crest leads 5-0
Storyline: The Chargers have won two straight and has never lost to the Storm, who enter the game after an emotional 28-21 loss at rival South Point last Friday after Cramer once led 21-7.

East Gaston at Cherryville
Series: East Gaston leads 8-4
Storyline: A conference matchup for these teams for the first time since 1976. Both teams have shown offensive firepower with quarterbacks Chase Miller (456 yards) of Cherryville and Trenton Sherill of East Gaston among the area leaders.

Hickory at North Lincoln
Series: Hickory leads 2-0
Storyline: The Western Foothills 3A Conference matchup pits teams coming off closely-contested matchups; Hickory edged visiting East Lincoln 22-21 while North Lincoln lost 14-5 at preseason league favorite Statesville.

Highland Tech at Bessemer City
Series: Bessemer City leads 20-1
Storyline: Highland Tech is 0-4 following a 72-0 blowout loss at Burns. Can the Rams repeat the spring’s historic 27-8 win at Bessemer City? The Yellow Jackets will long to start another long winning streak against their nearby rival.

Lincolnton at Newton-Conover
Series: Lincolnton leads 31-26-3
Storyline: A series that began in 1929 also marks Lincolnton’s last victory – 27-13 at home over the Red Devils on Feb. 26 in the 2021 winter/spring season opener.

Maiden at West Lincoln
Series: Maiden leads 39-8
Storyline: This could be the league title game as these two schools along with Bunker Hill are unbeaten. Maiden has long dominated the series but West Lincoln had won two straight before Maiden’s 21-20 overtime home win on March 5.

Mountain Island Charter at Community School of Davidson
Series: Mountain Island Charter leads 5-2
Storyline: The unbeaten Raptors (3-0) are back in action after its home game with Pine Lake Prep was postponed. They’ll be eager to avenge a 23-6 home loss in April in the their last meeting.

North Gaston at Kings Mountain
Series: Kings Mountain leads 34-3-2
Storyline: The Mountaineers look to take a 20th straight win over the North Gaston, which hasn’t won in the series since 1993. Kings Mountain has rolled up 70-0 and 50-0 scores

Shelby at Thomas Jefferson
Series: First meeting
Storyline: The unbeaten Gryphons (3-0) have a high-powered offense that includes University of Virginia recruit wide receiver Dakota Twitty (15 catches for 332 yards and four touchdowns) and Shelby enters with a 3-1 record.

Statesville at East Lincoln
Series: Statesville leads 5-0
Storyline: Hosting preseason league favorite Statesville quickly became a must-win for the host Mustangs (3-1) if they want to win the Western Foothills 3A Conference after East Lincoln lost its league opener last week.

South Point at Huss
Series: South Point leads 21-6-1
Storyline: Huss won the last meeting of the series in 2016 on its way to its first Big South 3A Conference title. South Point is 3-1 while Huss 0-2 entering this matchup.

Other area matchups:

Rock Hill, S.C. at Clover, S.C.
North Iredell at St. Stephens
West Iredell at Foard
East Burke at Bandys
West Caldwell at Bunker Hill
Chambers-Hough at Charlotte Memorial Stadium
Mallard Creek at Hopewell
West Meck at West Charlotte
Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons at Myers Park
South Meck at Berry Academy
East Meck at Garinger
Independence at Charlotte Catholic
Providence at Butler
Chase at McDowell
Brevard at R-S Central

Here are standings through Sept. 17 with conference record listed first followed by overall record:

Crest 2-0, 2-1
Kings Mountain 1-0, 3-1
South Point 1-0, 3-1
Forestview 1-0, 2-2
Cramer 0-1, 2-2
Ashbrook 0-1, 0-2
Huss 0-1, 0-2
North Gaston 0-2, 0-5

Statesville 1-0, 3-0
Hickory 1-0, 2-2
North Iredell 1-0, 1-2
St. Stephens 1-0, 1-2
East Lincoln 0-1, 3-1
North Lincoln 0-1, 2-2
West Iredell 0-1, 0-2
Foard 0-1, 0-3

Bunker Hill 1-0, 4-0
West Lincoln 1-0, 4-0
Newton-Conover 1-0, 1-2
Maiden 0-0, 3-0
East Burke 0-0, 1-1
Bandys 0-1, 2-1
West Caldwell 0-1, 0-3
Lincolnton 0-1, 0-4

Thomas Jefferson 1-0, 3-0
Shelby 1-0, 3-1
Burns 1-0, 3-2
East Gaston 0-0, 2-2
Cherryville 0-1, 1-3
Bessemer City 0-1, 1-4
Highland Tech 0-1, 0-4

Olympic 1-0, 4-0
Myers Park 1-0, 3-2
Kell 0-0, 3-1
South Meck 0-0, 4-1
Harding 0-1, 2-3
Berry Academy 0-1, 1-2

Catholic 1-0, 3-1
Butler 1-0, 2-2
Rocky River 1-0, 2-3
Independence 0-0, 1-2
Providence 0-1, 1-3
Garinger 0-1, 0-4
East Meck 0-1, 0-5

Chambers 1-0, 5-0
Hough 1-0, 4-0
Mallard Creek 1-0, 2-1
Hopewell 0-0, 1-3
West Charlotte 0-1, 3-1
West Meck 0-1, 3-2
North Meck 0-1, 2-2

Chase 0-0, 4-0
Clover 0-0, 1-2
Mtn Island Charter 0-0, 3-0
R-S Central 0-1, 0-3





Pro football

The Carolina Panthers improved to 3-0 for the fifth time in franchise history with a 24-9 win at the Houston Texans on Thursday night.

The victory also snapped a five-game losing streak in NFL Network Thursday contests as quarterback Sam Darnold passed for 304 yards and ran for two touchdowns on a night in which the Panthers lost running back Christian McCaffrey to a hamstring injury in the first half.

McCaffrey, who missed 13 of 16 games last season, did not return after the injury and his status for Carolina’s next game on Oct. 3 at Dallas is unknown.

The Panthers also lost two defensive backs – Jaycee Horn (foot) and Juston Burris (groin) – to injuries that knocked them out of action. After the game, Carolina announced Horn had a broken foot.

Darnold scored on a 5-yard run in the first quarter as Carolina took the lead for good at 7-0.

Houston scored with 25 seconds left in the first half but former Panthers kicker Joey Slye missed the extra point as Carolina took a 7-6 lead into halftime.

Carolina added two more touchdown runs – a 7-yarder by tight end Tommy Tremble and 1-yard quarterback sneak by Darnold and Zane Gonzalez booted a 21-yard field goal – to remain comfortably ahead and take the franchise’s first 3-0 start since 2015.

Three of the four previous 3-0 starts resulted in playoff seasons for the Panthers – in 1996, 2003 and 2015. Only in 2002 did Carolina start 3-0 and knock made the playoffs; The Panthers finished 7-9 that season.

Carolina’s defense, which entered the contest ranked first in many categories, is likely to remain at the top of the NFL after limiting the Texans to 176 yards total offense. The Panthers sacked rookie Austin Mills four times. Mills was making his first first NFL start.

Here is the Carolina Panthers’ 2021 regular season schedule:

Sept. 12 New York Jets (W 19-14)
Sept. 19 New Orleans (W 26-7)
Sept. 23 at Houston (W 24-9)
Oct. 3 at Dallas, 1 p.m.
Oct. 10 Philadelphia, 1 p.m.
Oct. 17 Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Oct. 24 at New York Giants, 1 p.m.
Oct. 31 at Atlanta, 1 p.m.
Nov. 7 New England, 1 p.m.
Nov. 14 at Arizona, 4:05 p.m.
Nov. 21 Washington, 1 p.m.
Nov. 28 at Miami, 1 p.m.
Dec. 12 Atlanta, 1 p.m.
Dec. 18 or 19 at Buffalo, TBD
Dec. 26 Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Jan. 2 at New Orleans, 1 p.m.
Jan. 9 at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m






College football

After a disappointing 20-9 road loss at Georgia State, the Charlotte 49ers open their Conference USA schedule on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. at home against a Middle Tennessee team with a couple of familiar faces.

Middle Tennessee (1-2, 0-1) has former Charlotte 49ers receiver Micaleous Elder and former Gardner-Webb receiver Izaiah Gathings on its roster. The Blue Raiders also had former N.C. State quarterback Bailey Hockman until Hockman left the program earlier this week after being replaced during last week’s 27-13 loss at UTSA.

Charlotte 49ers head coach Will Healy said he felt confident Middle Tennessee would have a new quarterback after watching last week’s game. Healy also had high praise for Elder and Gathings.

“Obviously when they moved on from Bailey in the first half against UTSA, we knew we would be prepared for (Chase) Cunningham,” Healy said during his Tuesday weekly news conference.

Elder was a part of Healy’s first recruiting class before choosing to transfer to Middle Tennessee. A Cleveland, Tenn., native, Elder had 43 catches for 530 yards and three touchdowns receiving for the 49ers in 16 games (six starts) for the 49ers.

“I’m proud of Micaleous for finding another opportunity,” Healy said. “I wish him nothing but the best.”

Gathings, a 6-foot-4, 225-pounder from Statesville, was a two-time All-Big South Conference wide receiver at Gardner-Webb after catching 101 passes for 1,341 yards and 13 touchdowns in 24 games.

“We recruited him and he’s a great player,” Healy said of Gathings.

Charlotte seeks to bounce back from its lowest regular season point total since 2018 and tied for lowest of the Healy era; Charlotte lost 31-9 to Buffalo in the 2019 Bahamas Bowl.

Here’s the Carolinas Division I football schedule for this week:
Appalachian State 31, Marshall 30

Middle Tennessee at Charlotte, 6:30 p.m.
Wake Forest at Virginia, 5 p.m.

Massachusetts at Coastal Carolina, noon
Wofford at VMI, 1:30 p.m.
Mercer at Furman, 2 p.m.
William & Mary at Elon, 2 p.m.
Clemson at N.C. State, 3:30 p.m.
Kansas at Duke, 4 p.m.
Charleston Southern at East Carolina, 6 p.m.
N.C. Central at N.C. A&T, 6 p.m.
Western Carolina at Gardner-Webb, 6 p.m.
Kentucky at South Carolina, 7 p.m.
North Carolina at Georgia Tech, 7:30 p.m.

Here’s the Carolinas Division II football schedule for this week:
Chowan at St. Augustine’s, 1 p.m.
Fairmont State at UNC-Pembroke, 1 p.m.
North Greenville at Erskine, 1 p.m.
Shaw at Lincoln, Pa., 1 p.m.
Virginia Union at J.C. Smith, 1 p.m.
Newberry at Tusculum, 1:30 p.m.
Elizabeth City State at Winston-Salem State, 2:30 p.m.
Bowie State at Livingstone, 4 p.m.
Catawba at Wingate, 6 p.m.
Mars Hill at Lenoir-Rhyne, 6 p.m.
Barton at Limestone, 7 p.m.
Virginia State at Fayetteville State, 7 p.m.




College basketball

Games times and broadcast information have been announced for the 2021 Hall of Fame Shootout that will be held Dec. 17 at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center.

The host Charlotte 49ers will making their sixth appearance at the Spectrum Center. Charlotte has played Florida State (2012-13), Georgetown (2015-16), Maryland (2007-08), Tennessee (2010-11), and Wake Forest (2007-08) in the Charlotte Hornets’ home arena.

The Dec. 17 schedule:

1:30 p.m. – East Carolina vs. Liberty (ESPN+)
4 p.m. – Virginia Tech vs. St. Bonaventure (ESPN2)
6:30 p.m. – NC State vs. Richmond (ACC Network)
9 p.m. – Charlotte vs. Wake Forest (ACC Network)









High school boys soccer

Here are the standings through Sept. 23 with conference record listed first followed by overall record:

Cramer 4-0, 10-2
Forestview 4-0, 7-2-1
South Point 3-1, 7-4
Ashbrook 2-2, 3-3
Huss 1-3, 4-3
Kings Mountain 1-3, 2-6
North Gaston 0-3, 2-5-1
Crest 0-3, 0-7

Shelby 3-0, 8-1-1
Highland Tech 3-0, 5-2
Burns 3-2, 6-2-1
East Gaston 2-2, 3-8
Thomas Jefferson 1-2, 1-4
Cherryville 0-3, 1-5-1
Bessemer City 0-3, 1-6

Gaston Christian 2-1, 3-5
Gaston Day 3-0, 8-2
East Lincoln 4-0, 6-3
Lincoln Charter 0-1, 4-4-1
Lincolnton 4-0, 6-0-1
Mtn Island Charter 0-2, 3-5
North Lincoln 0-2, 4-5
Piedmont CC 2-0, 4-1
West Lincoln 0-4, 2-9

This week’s schedule:

Lincolnton 3, Bandys 0
East Lincoln 6, Statesville 0
Shelby 1, East Henderson 1
Forestview 5, Kings Mountain 2
Cramer 7, Huss 0
Langtree Charter 5, Lincoln Charter 1
Ashbrook 4, North Gaston 3 (2 OT)
Hickory 6, North Lincoln 1
Pine Lake Prep 6, Mountain Island Charter 0
South Point 8, Crest 0
Bunker Hill 6, West Lincoln 1

Shelby 3, Burns 2
Cherryville at Thomas Jefferson, ppd., Sept. 27
Highland Tech at East Gaston, ppd., Sept. 27
Kings Mountain at Alexander Central, ppd., Oct. 14

Cramer 4, Ashbrook 1: Zach Laxton had Ashbrook’s only goal.
Crest at North Gaston, ppd., Sept. 30
Huss at Forestview, ppd., Sept. 23
Kings Mountain at South Point, ppd., Sept. 23
Lincoln Charter at Christ the King, no report
Lincolnton 1, West Caldwell 0
Community School of Davidson 3, Mountain Island Charter 0
East Lincoln 9, West Iredell 0
Newton-Conover 9, West Lincoln 0

Burns 2, Cherryville 0
East Gaston 9, Bessemer City 0
Forestview 3, Huss 0
South Point 5, Kings Mountain 0
Piedmont CC at Carolina International, no report
Highland Tech 3, Thomas Jefferson 0

Lincoln Charter at Gaston Day





High school baseball

Mountain Island Charter has hired a Raphael Turner as its new baseball coach, the school announced on Thursday.

Raphael Turner

Originally from Washington, D.C., Turner was a three-year football and baseball standout at Woodrow Wilson High School who later played both sports at Radford University in Virginia.

AFter college, where he earned a degree in sports management (with a minor in business management), he played three years of independent pro baseball before founding Unmatched Performance Athletics in Charlotte.

Turner lives in Denver, N.C., with his wife Joy and their two children.

He inherits a Raptors’ program coming off its best season in school history by advancing to the Western N.C. 1A finals with a 13-3 overall record.




High school volleyball

Kings Mountain 3, Crest (25-22, 25-13, 25-15): The Mountaineers (10-1, 6-0) remain atop the Big South 3A Conference standings behind the play of Aaliyah Byers (19 kills, 10 service points, 6 serve receptions), Meile Songaila (11 kills, 2 service points, 8 serve receptions), Paige Bagwell (2 kills, 35 assists, 9 service points) and Caroline Barber (19 serve receptions, 9 digs, 3 service points). Kings Mountain won the junior varsity match 2-0 (25-10, 25-12) behind the play of Sara Kate Bridges (14 assists, 2 kills, 4 digs, 4 service points), Alexa Jones (8 kills, 3 digs, 12 service points), London Brown (4 kills, 1 block, 5 digs, 4 service points) and Addi Peeler (14 service points, 5 digs, 8 serve receptions).

Cherryville 3, Burns 0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-15): Rileigh Kiser (5 aces, 20 assists, 9 digs), Addie Eaker (9 kills), Katie Eaker (4 aces), Taylor Digh (12 digs) and Kaitlyn Newsome (6 digs) led Cherryville, which improved to 7-11 overall and 4-3 in the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference.

South Point 3, North Gaston 0




High school cross country

Kings Mountain’s boys and Shelby’s girls won team titles in Thursday’s Cleveland County meet hosted on Thursday by Shelby.

Kings Mountain’s Parker Key won the boys individual title and helped the Mountaineers win the team title with the help of third-place Isaiah Watts, fourth-place Hunter Cruise, seventh-place Kohen Johnson and ninth-place Nic Horn.

Shelby’s Ally Hollifield won the girls individual title and helped the Golden Lions win the team title. Kings Mountain’s Thalia Kuhlman finished second individually.






Middle school football

Gaston County Conference standings through Sept. 23 with division record listed first followed by overall record:

(Division I)
Holbrook 2-0, 4-0
Southwest 2-0, 4-0
Grier 1-1, 3-1
Cramerton 1-2, 3-2
Mount Holly 0-3, 0-4-1
(Division II)
Belmont 3-0, 3-2
York Chester 2-0, 2-1-1
W.C. Friday 1-1, 2-2
Stanley 1-1, 1-2
Bessemer City 1-2, 1-4
Chavis 0-3, 0-4

Wednesday’s game
Bessemer City 40, Chavis 14

Thursday’s games
Cramerton 20, Mount Holly 6: L.J. Watson (105 yards rushing, two TDs) and Marcus Rhodes (60 yards rushing, one TD) led the offense and Isaac Aycock (blocked punt, two recovered fumbles), Christian Stowe and Ashton Owenby led the defense for Cramerton.

Holbrook 8, Grier 6: Zaire Crommarty scored on a 46-yard run in the third quarter and Keola Ondayog and Jacaro Jones tackled a Grier runner for a second quarter safety for unbeaten Holbrook (4-0). Crommarty had 65 yards rushing and Jones, Ondayog, Crommarty, Derrell Leach, Anthony Taylor and Jaylen Dickey led the Holbrook defense.

Belmont 28, W.C. Friday 0: Gavin Smith (TD), Zeke Pruitt (TD, two-point conversion), Reid Wilson (100 yards passing, one TD), Aydan Bradley (50-yard TD interception return), Brody Crawford (two-point conversion) and K.J. Shouse (TD) led Belmont.

Stanley at York Chester, no report

Sept. 29 games
Grier at Mount Holly
Holbrook at Southwest
Belmont at Chavis
Bessemer City at Stanley
W.C. Friday at York Chester

Tri-County Conference standings through Sept. 23 with division record listed first followed by overall record:

East Lincoln 2-0, 3-0
Kings Mountain 2-0, 2-1
North Lincoln 1-1, 2-1
Lincolnton 0-1, 1-1
West Lincoln 0-1, 0-2
Burns 0-2, 0-2
Shelby 2-0, 4-0
Crest 1-0, 1-1
East Rutherford 1-0, 1-1
Thomas Jefferson 1-1, 1-2
R-S Central 0-1, 1-1
Chase 0-2, 0-3

Wednesday’s games
Kings Mountain 6, Burns 0
West Lincoln at Lincolnton, ppd., Oct. 20

Thursday’s games
East Rutherford 28, Chase 6

Crest 44, R-S Central 0: Nehemiah Parker (45-yard TD catch, TD kickoff return), Michael Edwards (65-yard TD catch, 30-yard TD run), Hampton Boykins (70-yard TD run, 2-point conversion), Brock Melton (2 TD passes, 2-point conversion), Lyrik Pettis (2-point conversion), Donavon Walton (2-point conversion) led the offense and Eli Black (6 tackles, 1 fumble recovery), A.J. Davis (4 tackles, 1 TD fumble return) and Tavian Whisnant (4 tackles) led the defense for Crest.

Shelby 43, Thomas Jefferson 0

East Lincoln 20, North Lincoln 0

Sept. 29 games
East Rutherford at Shelby
Thomas Jefferson at R-S Central
Chase at Crest
Burns at Kings Mountain
North Lincoln at East Lincoln
West Lincoln at Lincolnton




Middle school softball

Gaston County Conference standings through Sept. 23:

Cramerton 6-0 (7-0 overall)
Chavis 6-0
Mount Holly 6-2
Stanley 4-2
Belmont 4-3
Holbrook 4-4
Bessemer City 2-5 (2-6 overall)
W.C. Friday 2-6
Grier 1-6
Southwest 0-7

Thursday’s games
Chavis 17, Grier 1 (3 innings): Raylei Gidney and Kennedy Weathers combined to strike out seven and Gidney, Weathers, Landry Beam, Kate Bookout, Abi Canipe, Desirae Smith and Laney Spangler all had hits to lead the Chavis offense.

Holbrook 19, Bessemer City 4: Alysa “Bean” Couick struck out eight and Madison Flint, Alysa Couick, Layla Love, Parker Gordon, Amani Neely, Ava Mullis, Abby Helms, Bre Whitener and McKenzie McCaskill led the Holbrook offense.

Mount Holly 26, Belmont 18 (8 innings)

Cramerton 17, W.C. Friday 5: Kaitlyn Baker and Kayla Johnson combined to strike out eight and Cailey Evans (2 hits including double, 3 runs), Madison Bridges (2 hits including double, 2 runs, 3 RBIs), Ava Cabe (2 hits, 2 runs), Taylyn Ledford (triple), Addeyson Payseur (1 hit) and Kayla Johnson (1 hit) for unbeaten Cramerton (7-0).

Sept. 27 games
Belmont at Grier
Bessemer City at W.C. Friday
Chavis at Cramerton
Stanley at Mount Holly





Pro baseball

The Gastonia Honey Hunters dropped a doubleheader at West Virginia 7-4 and 7-3 on Thursday night and return home with a 45-59 record as they begin a three-game homestand against Long Island on Friday at 6:50 p.m.