Knights looking to take another step

North Davidson’s historic football season continues Friday night when the undefeated Black Knights take on Central Piedmont Conference rival Mount Tabor in the third round of the 4-A state playoffs at Palmer Field.

The records are pretty one-sided. North sports a 13-0 mark while Mount Tabor is 7-5. But if anyone thinks the Knights might be looking past the Spartans to a possible semfinal matchup with Sun Valley of Porter Ridge, forget about it. When North and Mount Tabor hooked up during the regular season on Sept. 28 at Palmer Field, it took Chris Cheek’s 51-yard interception for a touchdown to give the Knights a 7-6 win.

“When you get this far, you’re going to get a good opponent, especially in the third round,” said North coach Mark Holcomb. “Mount Tabor played us tough. That’s the first time we’ve beaten them in 25 years. There’s no way we’re going to overlook them.”

That didn’t stop Mount Tabor coach Laymarr Marshall from declaring North the favorite and perhaps playing some mind games.

“They’re a great team,” Marshall said. “When you’re undefeated at this point of the season, you’ve overcome a lot of adversity. So we’ve got a lot of respect for North Davidson, for what coach Holcomb and his staff have done. We know we’re the underdog. We’re going in there with no pressure and we’ll give it all we’ve got.”

Holcomb isn’t buying any of that, though.

Mount Tabor beat High Point Central 15-12 in the first round and upset Davie County 14-7 last Friday in the second round. The Spartans are continuing to play sound defense and aren’t sneaking up on anybody.”

“They’ve shut down two really good offense the last two weeks,” Holcomb said. “We’ve got to do a better job of moving the ball on them. We moved it on them the last time but had too many penalties and turnovers. We need to eliminate those mistakes.”

North, which beat Western Guilford 45-17 in the first round and Dudley 36-26 in the second round, has scored no less than 34 points in any game since the nail-biter over Mount Tabor.

The Knights continue to show balance, with four players over 600 yards rushing. Conlee Hunter, a powerful between the tackles runner, leads the way with 947 yards and 13 touchdowns. Devonte Moore has 825 yards and nine touchdowns while Ketrick Eller has 624 yards and 11 TDs. Tevin Tuttle, running the wildcat, has 623 yards and eight touchdowns. Quarterback Chase Mitchell has thrown for 1,296 yards and 12 touchdowns.

North is equally imposing on defense with Shy Tuttle (12.5 sacks) and Andrew Mayton (11 sacks) anchoring the line. There are plenty of playmakers in the secondary, too, as Tevin Tuttle has six interceptions while Payton Boles and Mason Hicks have four apiece.

The Spartans, for their part, would take a repeat of the September game — with a different outcome, of course.

“It was a tight football game,” Marshall said. “We’ve played games like that since the start of the season. I told our players that we were going to be in a series of dogfights.”

And there’s the matter of North still playing football with Thanksgiving getting near.

“They’re motivated to practice,” Holcomb said. “It’s nice to be practicing when it’s cold. The grass is dead. Usually a this time of the year, we’re getting ready for basketball, wrestling and swimming.”

They wouldn’t mind holding on off on those sports for a little while longer yet.

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