We are less than two weeks away from the start of High School Football with Three of Rutherford County's schools playing a new six team conference known as the Southwestern 2A. This conference was conformed due to this being a realignment year in the state. I will get to Thomas Jefferson soon.
If there are two early observations to think about 1) 3 through 6 will be a dog fight and Two State Champs should battle it out for the top spot.
6) East Gaston - The Warriors do have a couple of kids returning this season in Kobe Creamer and Nick Gwynn as athletes, but they like to throw the ball around a lot. East Gaston went 3-8 a year ago and posted a 1-7 record in JV. The best East Gaston player maybe lineman Landon Van Dyke, who led the team in tackles in 2016.
5) Chase - Last year, they traded some of their defense for more offense and wound up winning four games. Despite that fact, Chase allowed only four schools to post 30 points or more on them a year ago. They have plenty of linemen and an athletic Xaiver Williams back to run the point of attack. Grant Lanser should pace the defense.
4) R-S Central - There are a lot of unknowns, but Central looks to have a bigger roster than a year ago. The knowns are that Jayden Waddell should be back at quarterback, Damarcus Johnson (137 tackles in 2016) is a solid inside linebacker and Jarvis Lynch will be a beast on the offensive or defensive line when needed. The young Hilltoppers have potential, but the excitement of a new coach in Brad Hutchins does kind of spark some intrigue.
3)East Rutherford - Demetrius Mauney headlines a very interesting Cavalier team this season. East Rutherford won two games, lost seven in a row and won the final two to take the County Championship last year. Mauney had nearly 1,000 yards rushing during his sophomore year during 2016. The Cavs should have athletes all over the field with Cade Hamilton leading the defense and Calvin Jones will likely be utilized in all kinds of ways and probably gets the start at QB.
2) South Point - Scottie Lee (1,126 passing/541 rushing) comes back as the signal caller to run the option after South Point won the 3A State Title a year ago. They also have Jake Alexander who rushed for 1,800-plus yards last season and three other kids who can tote the rock on even given night. Second leading receiver, Ray Grier also returns. Defensively, South Point has six kids who recorded a sack and four of those had over 100 tackles each on 2016.
1) Shelby - The Golden Lions won the 2A title again last season and have Malik Surratt and Juwan Sims carrying the offense. Dax Hollifield is highly sought after at Linebacker and leads the Golden Lion defense again this season. As they say, speed and athleticism are huge to the game of football. Shelby has that again. Since Shelby beat South Point by 24 a year ago, I give the Golden Lions a slight edge over the Red Raiders to win the conference.
In a six-part series, I am returning to the six most memorable Dale Earnhardt Jr. moments with his retirement just 17 races away. Number four will be next week. The final three will be later this season.
No.5....Jr..9/11 and Dover: It was the first race after the 9/11 attacks and Dale Earnhardt Jr. won a very spirited and emotional race for Americans. NASCAR had postponed the 9/11 racing weekend out of respect for all Americans who were dealing with the tragedy. Despite Dover being Junior's least favorite track nowadays, he led 193 of 400 laps to take the Checkered and American Flag near one of the United States most noted Air Force Bases.