Stanly County high school football preview

Photo by PJ Ward-Brown

After dipping to a 12-30 combined record last season, Stanly County’s four high school football teams are looking to improve as the 2023 season kicks off this week.

With a mixture of old and new, the teams in the county are led by two experienced coaches as well as a pair of new hires.

West Stanly Colts

Rocky River Conference 2A/3A

2022 Record: 3-7, 0-4 RRC

Over in Red Cross, seventh-year coach Brett Morton and the Colts are hoping to improve from two consecutive three-win seasons and return to the success that the team enjoyed a few years ago in the Rocky River Conference.

West’s offensive attack will be largely revamped with last year’s prime weapons — quarterback Jett Thomas, dual-threat Matthew Parker and running back Shane Mecimore — no longer in the fold.

The Colts are set to travel to South Stanly on Aug. 18 for a road matchup with the Rowdy Rebel Bulls. In last year’s season opener against the Bulls, West unleashed a 45-0 onslaught on South that started a three-game winning streak that was followed by seven straight losses to cap off the 2022 campaign.

North Stanly Comets

Yadkin Valley Conference 1A/2A

2022 Record: 6-5, 3-2 YVC

Over the past two seasons, the Comets have been the only Stanly team with a winning record, but that doesn’t mean change isn’t in the air. First-year coach Chad Little is the new voice in the locker room following the off-season retirement of eighth-year coach Scott Crisco, who totaled 60 wins with North.

With former star running back Cameron Smith gone, senior quarterback Chance Blake will be asked to step up along with an experienced wideout room of seniors Jordan Stewart, Dylan Poplin, Quinton Harris and Caden Bradford.

The Comets host Anson on Aug. 18 for their season opener in the first of five nonconference games.

South Stanly Rebel Bulls

Yadkin Valley Conference 1A/2A

2021 Record: 0-10, 0-5 YVC

It’s no secret that the team from Norwood is hunting for a change of pace. The Bulls are looking for their first winning season in five years and first conference title in more than three decades. First-year coach Terry Shankle takes over after five seasons with former coach Ryan Ochier at the helm.

With just four total wins in the past three years, South imploded last season and was forced to forfeit its final two games due to injuries, finishing with an 0-10 record.

Senior quarterback Drew Gaddy is back to lead a roster in flux and orchestrate a new game plan to try and pull the Bulls out of the cellar of the Yadkin Valley Conference.

Albemarle Bulldogs

Yadkin Valley Conference 1A/2A

2022 Record: 3-8, 2-3 YVC

It’s been a decade since the Bulldogs put together a winning season, but seventh-year head coach Richard Davis has seen strides in his team over the past few seasons, including a series of wins last year that earned his team a state playoff appearance (a 49-20 loss to Murphy).

Much like last year, the Bulldogs’ offense is led by junior quarterback Dre Davis, senior running back Jaylen Pinkney and junior wide receiver Ja’Zyion Geiger.

The Bulldogs will travel to Asheboro on Aug. 18 and Trinity on Aug. 25 before coming home for their home opener against West Stanly.