By CHRIS HOBBS
A brief look at Friday’s varsity football games involving teams from the South Fork 2A, Northwestern Foothills 2A and Northwestern 3A-4A:
SOUTH FORK 2A
NEWTON-CONOVER (3-2, 1-0) at
BANDYS (3-2, 0-1), 7:30 p.m.
The Red Devils go for their third straight win at Butler Stadium, where they are 13-6 since 1982, and Tom Eanes coaches the Trojans for the 20th time (15-4) record in a key game for Bandys.
In a league as tough as the South Fork 2A, two conference losses would virtually eliminate Bandys’ chances of repeating as the league’s champion.
RB Allen Wilfong and QB Justice Craig lead the Red Devils while RB Isaiah Gilchrist is the top rusher for Bandys, which seldom throws the ball.
MAIDEN (4-1, 1-0) at
WEST LINCOLN (4-1, 0-1), 7:30 p.m.
The Blue Devils have won 12 of their 13 games since 1980 that were played at West Lincoln, and the Rebels are 3-24 against Maiden in that same time span.
Of those three wins by West Lincoln, only one – 8-6 in 1985 – was played on the Rebels’ field.
QB Ethan Rhodes and WR Dylan Abernethy are perhaps the league’s best throw-catch combo, and West Lincoln is led by RB Cannon Bridges.
LINCOLNTON (2-3, 0-1) at EAST LINCOLN (5-0, 1-0), 7:30 p.m.
The Mustangs have been red hot and beginning to draw some attention as a championship contender in the South Fork 2A.
The rivalry game with the Wolves is Game 31 for David Lubowicz as the head coach at East Lincoln and the Mustangs are 17-13 since he took over.
QB Justin Barnett leads the Mustangs and RB Amontre Finger has paced the Wolves.
NORTH LINCOLN (4-1, 1-0) at
LAKE NORMAN CHARTER (1-4, 0-1), 7:30 p.m.
North Lincoln plays its 20th game with Nick Bazzle as head coach – they’ve won 14 of his first 19 – as they try to stay atop the league standings.
Bazzle, who has also been head coach at Newton-Conover and Alexander Central, is approaching 150 career wins. A victory tonight would give him 144.
RB Jake Soorus is one of several offensive leaders for North Lincoln while QB Jeff Womack is one of Lake Norman Charter’s biggest offensive weapons.
NORTHWESTERN FOOTHILLS 2A
BUNKER HILL (1-4, 0-1) at FRED T. FOARD (1-5, 1-1), 7:30 p.m.
The Tigers have beaten the Bears three straight times and also three consecutive times at Foard.
It’s the 40th battle between the two schools since 1980 and Foard is up 23-16, which includes beating the Bears 13 times in 19 games in Tigers Stadium.
Bunker Hill hasn’t won at Foard since 2012.
The Bears are led by QB Carson Elder and Foard has one of the area’s top ground gainers in RB Corey Siemer.
HIBRITEN (4-1, 1-0) at WEST CALDWELL (0-5, 0-1), 7:30 p.m.
The Panthers have 16 straight wins over the Warriors and have won eight straight at West Caldwell.
The series since 1980 favors Hibriten (23-16) and West Caldwell has not beat the Panthers since a 30-21 home victory in 2002.
QB Daren Perry sparks a still explosive Hibriten offense and versatile Cameron Beaver leads the Warriors.
PATTON (1-4, 0-1) at DRAUGHN (4-2, 2-0), 7:30 p.m.
Patton chases its fourth straight win over the Wildcats and its sixth in the last seven games.
The two “new” schools in Burke County are playing for the 11th time, and Patton is 7-3 against Draughn.
Draughn has one home win over Patton in the series, 34-27 in 2012.
QB Braxton Cox is breaking school or Burke County records in passing almost every game and RB Trent Corn is also starring for the Wildcats.
Patton is led by QB Weston Fleming.
WEST IREDELL (2-3, 0-1) at
EAST BURKE (2-3, 1-0), 7:30 p.m.
The Warriors and Cavs meet for the third time with East Burke still looking for its first win in the series.
West Iredell won 26-14 at East Burke two years ago and the Warriors won 47-28 last season at West Iredell.
East Burke (since 1980) has only one home win over an Iredell County school, beating South Iredell in Icard in 2009.
RB Emmanuel Long and QB Eli Kitchens are West Iredell’s leaders.
East Burke is sparked by RB Josh Moore and has QB Seth Pruitt back in the lineup after he missed earlier games with an injury.
WATAUGA (5-1, 1-0) at
ALEXANDER CENTRAL (4-1, 1-0), 7:30 p.m.
This could be the game that ultimately determines who wins the Northwestern 3A-4A title.
Neither team has won more than four straight times in a series (since 1980) that the Cougars lead 23-19.
Watauga has won 15 of its 20 visits to Taylorsville since 1980.
The Pioneers have come to Taylorsville with a two-game win streak over the Cougars two other times and Alexander Central then won.
Watauga head coach Ryan Habich, in an interview with WATA Radio of Boone, has called the game a mismatch with the Cougars clearly favored to win.
The game will feature some of the best players in the conference, including RB Jaiden Bond and QB Anderson Castle of Watauga.
Alexander Central RB Steven Montgomery has been especially effective for the Cougars.
FREEDOM (4-2, 1-0) at
HICKORY (1-5, 1-0), 7:30 p.m.
The Patriots have won four straight at Barger Stadium and seven in a row in a series they lead 15-10 in games played since 1980.
Hickory hasn’t won at home over the Patriots since winning 35-0 in 1995.
A victory would give HHS head coach Russell Stone, in his third year guiding the Red Tornadoes, career win No. 275.
The game features perhaps the two most athletic players in the conference – QB Jayden Birchfield for the Patriots and RB Cody Young for the Red Tornadoes.
McDOWELL (1-4, 0-1) at ST. STEPHENS (2-3, 0-1), 7:30 p.m.
The Titans and Indians have played twice and both games were close – St. Stephens won 19-1 7 at home two years ago and they won 40-36 last year in Marion.
McDowell counts heavily on RB Quantavian Moore and multi-dimensional Riley Moore.
The Indians feature a top notch passing combo – QB Connor Williams and WR Zach Lee – and their running game includes RBs Zak McLauchlin and Matthew Hancock.