Knights, Bulldogs kick off season

West Davidson’s Justin Williams (left) is chased down by North Davidson’s Chris Cheek (center) and Ty Yokeley during the NewBridge Bank Jamboree held Aug. 16 at West Davidson High School. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

North Davidson wants to become a perennial powerhouse in high school football.

The Black Knights will open the 2013 season against an already established North Carolina powerhouse.

North, coming off a 14-1 season in which they came up just short in the 4-A state semifinals against Porter Ridge, enjoyed its run and hopes to make that success an annual tradition.

North coach Mark Holcomb is ready to see his team in action. “Our kids are excited, they’re tired of practicing,” Holcomb said. “We’re just happy to play a game.

“I think we all wish we were in school, might be a little more exciting. But, that’s the way it is. They’re excited to play a game, I know that.”

Thomasville, whose run of three straight 1-A state championships made constructing a nonconference schedule difficult, understands that task at hand. The Bulldogs struggled early last season before finishing 6-8 and advancing to the third round of the 2-A playoffs. Assistant coach Dickie Cline said he knows what lies ahead. “It’s a big first challenge for a bunch of young pups,” he said with a chuckle. Knowing half of Welcome may be on hand, clad in black and orange and full of excitement, Cline understands the atmosphere will be electric. “I think a lot of them might have that deer in the headlights look.

“But we’ve got to get baptized sooner or later, don’t we?”

Holcomb certainly hopes that throng of Knights fans makes life hard on the visitors. “We sure hope they show up, they usually do,” he said. “I know the kids are excited to see what the crowd’s gonna be like, and they want to make the crowd happy.”

Ike Marsh is set to start at quarterback for the Bulldogs, and he will certainly keep close tabs on North defensive lineman Shy Tuttle. The junior defensive end is being recruited by virtually every program in the country, from national champion Alabama all the way down.

Cline said he will have plenty of players making their varsity debuts Friday, but North will be trying to replace several key players as well. Khylil Miller and Brandon McCray are vying for the starting quarterback job, vacated by Chase Mitchell, who is now at UNC Pembroke.

Holcomb isn’t ready to consider his team the favorite against a team like Thomasville. “They’re gonna be well-coached, and they’ve got pretty good size,” he said. “Tailback (DeMorris Payne) is fast, so it’s gonna be a good challenge for us, we feel like.”

West Davidson at Ledford

This used to be a Central Carolina Conference showdown before Ledford moved up the 3-A Mid-Piedmont Conference. It will serve as the opener for two teams who like to establish the run and play near mirror images of each other.

Chris Adams is in his fourth year as head coach for the Panthers, who finished 5-7 overall last year, 2-3 in the league. He will rely heavily on running back George Melvin for the tough yards between the tackles, and shifty back Dalton Harris poses a threat on the perimeter.

New West coach Bryan Lingerfelt will be making his debut as head coach of the Dragons, who finished 3-7 last season and did not win a game in the CCC. Lingerfelt also likes to run the ball, though he will likely bring a shotgun spread attack with him to Tyro from East Davidson.

Central Davidson at West Stokes

Like West, the Spartans will be breaking in a new coach on Friday when they travel to King. Chad Tedder served as the defensive coordinator last season for a team that finished 6-7 overall, 3-2 in the CCC, and advanced to the second round of the 2-A playoffs.

Central is making the jump to 3-A this season, after making significant strides as a program the last two years. The Spartans will have to replace running backs Saig Skeen and Josh Moore and quarterback Nathan Dennis, a trio that ran the double-wing offense extremely well. Chris Moore is set to start at quarterback, with Thayer Bates at tailback and Desmond Mabe moving over from fullback to a wing.

Central beat West 40-10 a year ago.

East Davidson at South Davidson

This game features a pair of head coaches making their debuts, as Vance Hanner takes over at East and Joe Cullen is trying to light a fire at South.

It will also have a new feel to it, as these two teams have not met since 2006, when the Eagles beat the Wildcats 40-0. South went 1-10 last season, 1-6 in the 1-A Yadkin Valley Conference. East was 3-8 and finished 1-4 in the CCC.

Jason Queen can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 220 or