Chryst, Shelby, 4th round playoff picks, preview
Chryst senior midfielder Ny’Tavious Huskey discusses his team’s 30-29 win over West Charlotte in the NCHSAA 3A West playoffs.
Some traditions never get old.
For Shelby coach Mike Wilbanks, the signs of the season are everywhere. There’s nothing more notable than the Bermuda grass covering George Blanton Memorial Stadium going from lush green to “golden brown,” adding a bold coat of black paint to the field’s yard lines and hash marks.
“It’s a great tradition, one that started long before I got to (Shelby High School),” he said. “It’s so much fun to put some black paint on the field, and see the field turn ‘gold’ as we like to say it. We’re talking about playing (home) in November, and hopefully we can play in December as well.”
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Shelby is one of two teams vying for a chance to play football in December, as the No. 7 Golden Lions host 11th-ranked Forest Hills in the NCHSAA 2A West semifinal round. Also on the practice field this Thanksgiving will be Crest, the top-seeded Chargers team that welcomes No. 4 Dudley for a Black Friday showdown between undefeated teams.
“If you practice on Thanksgiving and play the next night … you have a chance,” Christ football coach Jim Sosby said. “I love the energy of our guys. We will have a tough week to prepare, regardless of which team we have to play.
Here are previews for Friday’s games, with sportswriter Joe L. Hughes II predicting the winner for both.
(4) Dudley in (1) Crest
Records: Both teams are 13-0.
last week: Dudley defeated J.M. Robinson, 50-28. Crest edged West Charlotte in overtime, 30-29.
Word: Chryst and Dudley have won 13 state titles between them. The hope of another one rests on 48 minutes Friday night at Sid Bryson Stadium, where the collision of two Class 3A heavyweights finally began.
Dudley averages 517 yards and 54 points per game. The Panthers are led by quarterback Andrew Atmore II, who has completed 74% of passes for 3,546 yards and 49 touchdowns. He has a host of options to choose from in the passing game, including Koredell Bartley (51 catches, 870 yards, 9 TD), CJ Neely (47 catches, 981 yards, 15 TD) and Nasir Newkirk (43 catches, 943 yards , 13 td.). LJ Southern and Jayden Brown combined for 1,752 yards this fall.
Dudley’s defense shouldn’t be overlooked either, allowing just nine points per game. He is credited with 47.5 sacks and 29 forced turnovers.
Chryst’s offense has been explosive in its own right, averaging 460 yards and 18.6 points per game. Quarterback Ny’Tavious Huskey completed 67% of his passes for 3,431 yards and 43 touchdowns. He also has 588 rushing yards and seven TDs.
Like Atmore, he has a talented trio of receivers in AJ Adams (65 catches, 1,089 yards, 12 TD), Malachi Addison (52 catches, 925 yards, 8 TD) and UNC recruit Javarius Green (53 catches, 1,086 yards, 16 TD TD). Additionally, running back Aiden Carson rushed for 906 yards and 13 TDs this fall.
The winner gets to either Hickory or West Henderson in the 3A West final.
He chooses: Dudley
(11) Forest Hills at (7) Shelby
Records: Forest Hills 12-1. Shelby 10-3.
last week: Forest Hills beat Davidson Community School, 48-21. Shelby defeated Salisbury 38-21.
Word: Forest Hills and Shelby meet for the second straight season, as the Golden Lions seek a result similar to their 30-13 win last season in Marshville.
Shelby is on a 10-game winning streak, averaging 56.6 points per game. It has yet to lose to a 2A opponent, with the Golden Lions’ three losses coming thanks to 3A foes in Kings Mountain, AC Reynolds and Crest.
Quarterback Lan Farmer is nine yards shy of 3,000 for the season. He has 40 touchdowns to eight interceptions. Tristan Tate has rushed for 1,408 yards and 18 TDs, while wideout Izay Bridges has 73 catches for 1,558 yards and 17 TDs.
Shelby allows 18.4 points per game. Nick Norris’ 111 tackles are a team high.
Forest Hills itself is on a seven-game winning streak. Its only loss of the season was to Monroe, 28-0 in late September. They are led by quarterback Brady Hibbard, who has completed 66% of passes for 2,672 yards and 34 touchdowns. Three Yellow Jacket receivers — Russ Smith, Jerrell Boulder and Kemarion Massey — each have at least 30 catches, 500 yards and four TDs.
Forest Hills’ defense has been stout this fall, allowing just 12 points per game. Kayden Smith leads the Yellowjackets with 110 tackles, while Massey and Joshua Rivera each have three interceptions.
The winner travels to Bunker Hill or Reidsville in the 2A West regional final next week.
He chooses: Shelby