High School football 2021 previews: Part 2 – Catawba Valley 2A and Western Foothills 3A conferences

WWW.CAROLINASSPORTSHUB.COM High School Football Previews
Aug. 16 – Others (Mountain Island Charter and Clover)
Aug. 17 – Catawba Valley 2A, Western Foothills 3A conferences
Aug. 18 – Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference
Aug. 19 – Big South 3A Conference

By Richard Walker

For the past four years and for 12 of the last 16 seasons, each of Lincoln County’s public high schools competed in the same conference.

That’ll change this season as realignment has sent Lincolnton and West Lincoln to the Catawba Valley 2A Conference and East Lincoln and North Lincoln to the Western Foothills 3A Conference.

After a winter and spring season in which three teams – West Lincoln, East Lincoln and North Lincoln – were near the top of the South Fork 2A Conference, how will Lincoln County’s four teams look in this more conventional fall 2021 season?

The same three teams.

West Lincoln was runner-up to Maiden in last year’s South Fork 2A race and is projected to finish second again in a conference with many of same teams.

Meanwhile, in the Western Foothills 3A, league coaches project East Lincoln and North Lincoln as the biggest contenders to knock off preseason favorite Statesville.

Here is a look at the Lincoln County teams:

Coach: David Byrd (1st year)
Coaching staff: Brent Gates, Jaden Angle, Mack George, Chris Carrigan, Marty Holbrooks, Bradley Armstrong, Michael Bonochelli
Returning starters: 12
Starters lost: 10
2021 spring record: 1-5, 1-5
Top returning players: RB/DB Deandra Smith, RB/DL Bernard Wingate, OL/DL Andre Smith, OL Camden Wray, TE/LB Easton Dellinger, SE/DB Anthony Odum, SE/DB Ta’kiy Robinson, RB/DL Kharmoni Heath
Top newcomers: FB/LB Caden Smith, TE/LB Peyton Rangel, WB/DB Andrew Phelps, TE/DL Jordy Hernandez, QB/DB Andre Bost, LB Montray Bost, OL Bryson Davis, OL/DL Nate Wells
Season outlook: Lincolnton has a first-year head coach in hopes of avoiding dubious history; The school has never had five straight losing seasons since the school first five seasons of football (1921 to 1925). David Byrd, who’s in his 20th year as a coach at Lincolnton, has 12 returning starters back in hopes of guiding the Wolves to a winning season.
All-time record: 638-384-39 (since 1921)
Last 5 seasons: 25-31
Aug. 20 at South Point
Aug. 27 North Lincoln
Sept. 3 at East Lincoln
Sept. 17 Bunker Hill*
Sept. 24 at Newton-Conover*
Oct. 1 Bandys*
Oct. 8 at West Caldwell*
Oct. 15 East Burke*
Oct. 22 Maiden*
Oct. 29 at West Lincoln*

West Lincoln
Coach: Darren Ponder (3rd year, 15-7)
Coaching staff: Austin May, Brad Newton, Chuck Mallory, Dallas Bridges, Jared Swafford, John Henderson, John Markley, Wayne Navey
Returning starters: no information submitted
Starters lost: no information submitted
2021 spring record: 5-3, 4-2 (1st round playoffs)
Top returning players: no information submitted
Top newcomers: no information submitted
Season outlook: The Rebels had winning records 11 times in the school’s first 56 seasons until Darren Ponder became head coach in 2018. Three straight winning seasons have followed, a playoff streak has been extended to five years and West Lincoln won its first two state playoff games in 2019. Can the Rebels keep it going? The new conference will have many of the same rivals and hopes are high for another successful season.
All-time record: 231-389-5 (since 1962)
Last 5 seasons: 33-25
Aug. 20 North Lincoln
Aug. 27 at Cherryville
Sept. 3 Foard
Sept. 17 at Bandys*
Sept. 24 Maiden*
Oct. 1 at Bunker Hill*
Oct. 8 at Newton-Conover*
Oct. 15 West Caldwell*
Oct. 22 at East Burke*
Oct. 29 Lincolnton*

East Lincoln
Coach: David Lubowicz (5th year, 25-19)
Coaching staff: Chris Matile, David Brehm, Ryan Goggio, Matt Gallagher, Josh Robinson, Josh Thompson, Jay Roseboro, Garrett Young, Matt Beam
Returning starters: 12
Starters lost: 9
2021 spring record: 5-2, 4-2
Top returning players: LB Ben Cutter, QB Tyler Mizzell, WR Markell Clark, WR/DB Jeremiah Jones, LB Landon Glezen, DL Blake Bradford
Top newcomers: LB Aiden Terrell, LB Terry Bryant, DL Josh Gilbert
Season outlook: East Lincoln returns 12 starters, among them linebacker Ben Cutter, quarterback Tyler Mizell and wide receiver Markell Clark after solid spring seasons. An overtime loss at West Lincoln kept the Mustangs out of the playoffs so they’ll be motivated to get back in the postseason as they move up to Class 3A.
All-time record: 326-265-3 (since 1967)
Last 5 seasons: 36-22
Aug. 20 at Hibriten
Aug. 27 at Forestview
Sept. 3 Lincolnton
Sept. 17 at Hickory*
Sept. 24 Statesville*
Oct. 1 at West Iredell*
Oct. 8 Foard*
Oct. 15 St. Stephens*
Oct. 22 North Iredell*
Oct. 29 at North Lincoln*


North Lincoln
Coach: Nick Bazzle (4th year, 26-9)
Coaching staff: Charlie Goss (Backs), Alex Pedersen (Backs), Gill Martin (OL), Dan Brown (WR), Paul Regan (DC), Mark Ludwig (DL), Mike Sullivan (OLB), Bryan Wilbur (ILB)
Returning starters: 7
Starters lost: 15
2021 spring record: 4-3, 3-3
Top returning players: QB Kyle Kovalchuk, Back Brennen Rogers, WR Timmy Schafer, OL Nick Tabor, OL Vince Myers, ILB Sammy Wilkins, DB Kaleb Peter
Top newcomers: OL Bryson Esser, Back Reed King, DL Malachi Williams
Season outlook: With only 10 returning lettermen, the Knights will look for their younger players to gain expect quickly. Quarterback Kyle Kovalchuk gained valuable experience last year as North Lincoln just missed the postseason in the ultra-competitive South Fork 2A Conference race.
All-time record: 84-124 (since 2003)
Last 5 seasons: 30-27
Aug. 20 at West Lincoln
Aug. 27 at Lincolnton
Sept. 3 Northwest Cabarrus
Sept. 17 at Statesville*
Sept. 24 Hickory*
Oct. 1 at North Iredell*
Oct. 8 St. Stephens*
Oct. 15 at Foard*
Oct. 22 West Iredell*
Oct. 29 East Lincoln*