Central, Ledford clash in big MPC contest

Central Davidson’s Desmond Mabe runs for yardage against East Davidson. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

Central Davidson and Ledford have been playing football against each other for a long time so when the two county rivals square off Friday night at Spartan Community Stadium it will be a big game.

But it’s going to be even bigger this time because for the first time since 2008, it will be a conference game. Ledford moved up to the 3-A ranks with the 2009 N.C. High School Athletic Association realignment. Central was elevated in the 2013 realignment and joined Ledford in the Mid-Piedmont Conference.

“We feel like it’s the biggest game we’ve had here in a couple of years,” said Central coach Chad Tedder. “Obviously because it’s Ledford, a county rival, and they’re in our conference now. But being in 3-A now, our offense is different to everyone else except Ledford.”

Yes, that offense.

Central’s bunched up double-wing offense is based on deception with double-handoffs between running backs running behind what always seems to be a huge Spartan offensive line. The Spartans rarely throw the ball.

“Just playing them in general is tough based on their size and what they do,” said Ledford coach Chris Adams. “It’s going to be a big challenge for us defensively.”

Ledford is 4-1 overall while Central is 2-3. But both teams are 1-0 in the conference, magnifying the game’s significance even more.

“For us, it’s a huge game,” Tedder said. “If we play hard and take care of the football, we’ve got a chance to win the ballgame. If we do that, we’ve got a chance to contend for a conference title. We’re excited to be playing on Community Night.”

The same would hold true for Ledford but the Panthers will have to do without quarterback Bubba White, who will miss at least Friday’s game with a knee injury. That leaves the job to virtually untested backup Koby Younger. White was due to have an MRI on Thursday.

“Obviously, he’s not going to play tomorrow night,” Adams said. “We certainly hope we haven’t lost him for the season. But it’s out of our hands right now.”

Ledford is coming off a 28-21 win over Western Guilford.

After some frustrating losses, Central righted its ship with a 33-0 rout of Southwestern Randolph last Friday in the Spartans’ debut MPC game.

“You know, Southwestern Randolph’s got a pretty good football team,” Tedder said. “They haven’t had a lot of success but they’ve got hard-nosed kids. They’re more athletic than you think. We played our most complete game of the season and we only turned the ball over once.”

Desmond Mabe leads the Spartan attack with 524 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Marquez Stiller, a freshman who began the season on the Spartan junior varsity, has 373 yards and five touchdowns.

But the Panthers have their thunder-and-lightning backfield tandem of Dalton Harris and George Melvin to contend with. Harris has rushed for 653 yards and nine touchdowns while Melvin has rushed for 537 yards and seven touchdowns. White’s absence will force Ledford to rely more on its running game. Younger threw just two passes, completing one for two yards, after White got hurt against Western Guilford.

“They’ve got a couple of good ones,” Tedder said. “Their offensive line is big, like ours. We’ll get to see how they do. Southwestern Randolph had a big back, too, and they tried to pound the ball on us. Our defense did a good job.”

South Davidson (0-6, 0-3) at North Moore (0-6, 0-3)

South Davidson has struggled all season, scoring just six points all season in six lopsided defeats. But the Wildcats have a good chance of breaking through Friday night against a North Moore team that is struggling just as much. The teams have identical records.

The Wildcats are coming off a 68-0 loss to Albemarle. North Moore fell 61-7 to North Stanly.

Fort Chiswell (4-0) at Thomasville (1-4)

The Bulldogs are having a difficult time once again playing a nonconference schedule against mostly larger schools. They’ll get another challenge from the Pioneers, who are making the trip from Max Meadows, Va. Fort Chiswell, a 1-A school, has outscored its opponents 180-39.

Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or mike.duprez@the-dispatch.com.