Knights excited but cautious

North Davidson’s Tevin Tuttle gets to the outside of Davie County’s Alex Gobble (left) and Rasaun Martin on a kick return during their game on Friday. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

North Davidson is undefeated at 11-0 and will be heavily favored Friday night when the Black Knights host Western Guilford, which brings a 4-6 record into Palmer Field for their first-round 4-A state playoff game.

But while there’s a 100 percent chance of a football game being played, there’s a zero percent chance the Knights will be overconfident. North has absorbed too many upset losses in the first round — most recently two years ago against Davie County — for that to happen.

“I feel like we had a fine regular season but everybody’s 0-0 now,” said North coach Mark Holcomb. “The next loss and you’re done. It’s nice to be 11-0 but if you’re 11-1, that means you’re through. In the playoffs, you expect to see good teams.”

The Knights are certainly one of those.

Quarterback Chase Mitchell has thrown for 1,068 yards with nine touchdowns and just three interceptions. The Knights have four players with over 500 yards rushing, including Devonte Moore (800 yards, 9 TDs), Conlee Hunter (739 yards, 10 TDs), Tevin Tuttle (537 yards, 7 TDs) and Ketrick Eller (522 yards, 10 TDs). Ashton Phillips has caught 31 passes for 337 yards and five touchdowns.

Shy Tuttle and Andrew Mayton anchor a powerful defensive line, linebacker Hunter Hoots seems to always be around the football while Tevin Tuttle and Mason Hicks lead a secondary that has forced over 20 turnovers.

North kicker Spencer Landfried’s field goal range goes past the 50 and he puts most of his kickoffs in the end zone.

It all adds to an imposing football team.

But the Hornets have some weapons. Quarterback Reid Flippin has thrown for 1,898 yards and 10 touchdowns and has rushed for 613 yards. Tray Miller has rushed for 762 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 21 passes for 338 yards and two TDs. Wide receiver Jamal Rooks has 30 catches for 529 yards and five TDs.

“Their team speed is pretty good,” Holcomb said. “They’re not as big as we are. But at the skill positions, they’re pretty good. Miller will probably be the best athlete on the field. They try to get him the ball any way they can. He’s a really good athlete.”

On the other hand, Flippin has been intercepted 17 times and North’s secondary could have the opportunity to make some big plays.

And while everything is going great for the Knights now, Holcomb isn’t completely satisfied. He wants more from his team.

“There’s still a lot of things we can get better at,” Holcomb said. “I don’t think these guys have played their best football yet.”

The winner of Friday’s game will face the Dudley-Reagan winner in the second round.

Thomasville at Maiden

The Bulldogs (4-7) feature the county’s leader rusher in Gabe Brockett, who has 2,105 yards and has been on a tear since conference play began. Brockett piled up 433 yards, a school record and the eighth best total in North Carolina history, in last Friday’s 42-21 win over Lexington. Brockett will get the bulk of the carries against Maiden (8-2) in their 2-A state playoff matchup but quarterback Ike Marsh is also a threat on keepers.

Maiden quarterback Jake McRee has thrown for 1,350 and 16 touchdown. His favorite target is Rocky Taylor, who has 54 catches for 700 yards and six TDs.

The winner will play Wilkes Central or Lincolnton in the second round.

Ledford at Hickory Ridge

The Panthers (5-6) will count on quarterback Duke Boger (1,017 yards passing, 11 TDs) and running back Jeremiah Rice, who leads the Panthers with 904 yards rushing and has eight touchdowns.

Hickory Ridge is 10-1 and the top seed in the 3-A Midwest pod.

The winner will face the A.L. Brown-North Forsyth winner in the second round.

Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or