How important is the quarterback to a high school football team? It’s critical, no doubt.
Take the case of East Lincoln. As the season has progressed, most observers, including myself, have predicted an easy run to the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference title and an unprecedented unbeaten regular season.
After all, quarterback Garrett Young was averaging more than 300 yards passing per game as the Mustangs climbed to No. 2 in the Associated Press state 2A rankings. East Lincoln is still No. 2 this week, but suddenly Young’s availability for the rest of the season is in doubt.
The lanky senior suffered a dislocated kneecap, an old injury, last week against Lincolnton, and the Mustangs barely escaped with a 13-8 win. They were expected to roll by four touchdowns.
What appeared to be a waltz for East Lincoln has morphed into a race of interest. The Mustangs play at suddenly rejuvenated West Lincoln Friday night, and they still have to face unbeaten Lake Norman Charter down the road. Freshman Chaz Surratt has been installed as Young’s backup. Young is out indefinitely.
It could an intriguing Friday night. And Saturday’s college schedule has some heavyweight matchups for a change.
This weekend’s crystal ball gazing:
East Lincoln at West Lincoln: Backup QB Miguel Corella figured in five West Lincoln touchdowns last week in a surprisingly easy win over Cherryville. Is he the real deal? We shall find out. I still think the Mustangs have enough talent on offense to eke out a win, and coach Mike Byus is a masterful game planner … East Lincoln 21-14.
Cherryville at Lincolnton: The Ironmen are the most unpredictable team in the SPC. They brought nothing to the table last week against the Rebels. The Wolves, meanwhile, are showing gradual signs of improvement … Lincolnton 35-12.
Highland Tech at Bessemer City: One Gaston County team will get its first win tonight. It should be the Yellow Jackets … Bessemer City 28-6.
Lake Norman Charter at North Lincoln: It will be a joust to the finish in a matchup of Knights vs. Knights. The Lake Norman Charter version of the Knights boasts the league’s top offense … Lake Norman Charter 42-14.
East Gaston at Garinger: Could it be two wins in a row for the Warriors, who started 0-6? Yes … East Gaston 30-21.
Crest at North Gaston: The Wildcats have been more competitive this season, so fans will just have to be patient … Crest 42-15.
Forestview at South Point: The Jaguars’ defense is suspect, and that unit faces the supreme challenge against South Point’s prolific ground attack … South Point 49-21.
Freedom at Hunter Huss: Huskies were blown last year in this game, so revenge is a prime motive … Huss 35-27.
Maiden at Bandys: I give the Trojans a slight edge at home in this rivalry game … Bandys 21-20.
Virginia Tech at North Carolina: The Tar Heels looked great against the mashed potatoes of Idaho. Can they beat a team like Virginia Tech? This will be the year … North Carolina 27-21.
Virginia at Duke: When October rolls around, the Duke faithful are typically counting the days before round ball practice starts. But the football team will be 2-0 in the ACC and 5-1 overall if it beats UVa. Move over, Coach K. David Cutcliffe is the new big man on campus … Duke 31-27.
Florida State at N.C. State: The Wolfpack is still not quite ready for prime time … FSU 35-7.
Georgia at South Carolina: Bulldog fans have named the freshman RB combo of Todd Gurley (Tarboro, NC) and Keith Marshall as “Gurshall” … Georgia 24-17.
LSU at Florida: The Bayou Bengals have been winning ugly, so they are prime meat for an upset … Florida 17-14.
West Virginia at Texas: The Mounties’ Geno Davis is the Heisman frontrunner following his epic game against Baylor (70-63 win) … West Virginia 42-31.
Miami, Fla. at Notre Dame: Major college upset special! Hurricanes pull stunner in the shadow of the Golden Dome … Miami 24-14.
Georgia Tech at Clemson: Yellow Jacket defense was shredded by Middle Tennessee State last week … Clemson 45-20.
Northwestern at Penn State: Northwestern is now the favorite to win the Big Ten. Remember, Ohio State is ineligible for the postseason … Northwestern 27-13.
Nebraska at Ohio State: Buckeyes avenge gut-wrenching loss to the Huskers last season on the wind-swept plains of Lincoln … Ohio State 24-10.
Oklahoma at Texas Tech: This would not be an upset if Tech won. The Sooners never seem to play well in Lubbock (last win there was 2003) … Oklahoma 27-24.
Last week’s record: 18-4. The season’s record: 76-18.
Note: Last week, I nailed Louisiana Tech over Virginia and Cincinnati over Virginia Tech. Never underestimate the mediocrity of the ACC.