High School Football: Thursday’s Charlotte-area scores; Friday’s preview, schedules, picks

High school football kicks off Thursday with three straight nights of games in the Charlotte-area.

We’ve got your previews, picks, schedules and more.

This years, The Observer is partnering with Deer Park Water for expanded coverage of high school football. That includes a game of the week, most weeks, in the regional counties the newspaper covers.

Below also find previews for those games of the week in Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln and Union Counties.

Thursday’s Live Scores

Prep football preview, schedule

(Observer’s Sweet 16 rankings are included)


No. 7 Weddington 54, Cox Mill 3

(Tap here for story)

No. 9 Mallard Creek 28, No. 3 Independence 14

(Tap here for story)


Mecklenburg County

Ardrey Kell at Providence, 7 p.m. – Defense should be the strength this season for Ardrey Kell, with an experienced corps of linebackers and defensive backs. Providence will rely on OL Cash Topinka (6-3, 315) and his fellow linemen to protect sophomore QB Jackson Debe, who can throw the long ball effectively.

No. 4 Butler at Rolesville, 7 p.m. – This is a tough opener for Butler. Rolesville returns most key players from a 10-4 team, including RB’s Isiah Jones (1,172 yards in 2022) and Devon Thomas (1,086). The Rams figure to be one of the Raleigh-Durham area’s powers this fall. But Butler has 16 starters back from a 10-3 team, including nine on defense and standout QB Zach Lawrence.

No. 14 Charlotte Catholic at South Mecklenburg, 7 p.m. – It’s the Battle for Park Road. South Mecklenburg has an experienced defense, which is what carried the Sabres to a strong 2021 season. There’ll be a lot of attention on Charlotte Catholic, with 32-year-old Matthew Reilly taking over as head coach. The Cougars have 18 starters back, and they are expected to throw the ball more than Cougar teams have done in the past.

Charlotte Country Day at Swain County, 7:30 p.m. – The Buccaneers make a 200-mile trip to Bryson City, in the western N.C. mountains, for their opener. Junior QB Khalel Wright threw for more than 1,000 yards last season and has some experienced offensive linemen. Swain County tends to run the football, and the Maroon Devils have returning RB’s in Joshua Collins and Josiah Glaspie, each of whom had 500-plus rushing yards last season.

Christ the King at Cannon School, 7 p.m. – This is a meeting of two programs on the rise. Christ the King went 9-3 last fall under first-year coach Brian Decker, and the Crusaders have a ton of returnees. LB Jack Yenichek leads what could be one of the best defenses in 1A football across the state. New head coach Dustin Cannon is beefing up the Cannon program, which will be led by QB Tyler Green (2,361 passing yards last season). Both of these teams are likely to be playing postseason football this year.

Hickory Hawks at Community School of Davidson, 7 p.m. – The Hawks lost most key players off a 9-3 team in 2022 but typically are a tough foe. The host Spartans are aiming for a special season, with 15 starters back from a 10-3 team. They have most key players back from an offense that averaged 45 points a game last fall.

East Mecklenburg at Berry Academy, 7 p.m. – These teams are 5-5 against each other all-time, but East Mecklenburg has won four of the last five meetings. The Eagles are experienced and tough on both lines but looking for someone to step up on offense. Berry Academy has a strong linebacker corps, so this could be a defensive struggle.

Harding at Brookland-Cayce (SC), 7 p.m. – Harding, under new head coach J.T. Stone, is inexperienced and will rely on LB’s Usir Jackson and Alagi Ceesay for leadership. If you’re playing Brookland-Cayce, be prepared to score. The Bearcats scored 40-plus points four times last season but gave up 60 or more points three times.

Hickory Grove Christian at Wake Christian, 7 p.m. – Wake Christian, which won just once last season, has the unenviable job of slowing down all-state RB Anthony Hawkins, who ran for 1,700 yards last season. He leads a Lions team with 14 returning starters and a goal of equaling or bettering last fall’s 9-2 campaign.

Hopewell at Garinger, 7 p.m. – The visiting Titans have the offensive weapons to cause problems, with WR’s K.C. Cunningham, Derry Elay and Joseph Johnson. It’s yet another rebuilding project at Garinger, where new head coach Joshua Williams hopes to find the answers for a program that is 5-43 over the last five seasons.

Lake Norman Charter at SouthLake Christian, 7 p.m. – The visiting Knights are young at all the offensive skill positions but have a potentially strong defense led by DB’s David Wignot and Major Leak. SouthLake was 0-10 last fall but has 13 returning starters, Sophomore QB Tyson Williams hopes to rev up an offense that averaged fewer than 10 points a game in 2022.

Mitchell County at Charlotte Latin, 7 p.m. – The visiting Mountaineers were hard-hit by graduation after last fall’s 8-4 campaign. It’ll be Drew Dayton’s debut as head coach for Charlotte Latin. RB Neil Salvage figures to be a key figure for the Hawks’ offense. The defense is more experienced, led by four returning starting linemen.

North Mecklenburg at Lake Norman, 7 p.m. – (see “Iredell Game of Week” below)

Rocky River at Porter Ridge, 7 p.m. – It’s the 12th annual meeting of these programs, which are neighbors on either side of the Mecklenburg-Union line. Rocky River won the first four games. Porter Ridge has won the last seven, by a combined score of 261-93. Rocky River’s promising defense must stop the Pirates, who run the ball about 80 percent of the time.

West Mecklenburg at Olympic, 7 p.m. – This game has been billed the Air Traffic Classic, which is logical, if you’ve ever spent any time at either school. For those who haven’t each school is under a main approach path for Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Olympic has been a powerhouse in recent seasons but has lost players to newly-opened Palisades. West Mecklenburg is led by all-state LB Beady Waddell V (son of the head coach).


No. 13 Hickory Ridge at Jay M. Robinson, 7 p.m. – The visiting Ragin’ Bulls feature QB Caden Haywood, who passed for 2,554 yards last season and has a corps of speedy receivers. Jason Seidel, in his first year as head coach at Jay M. Robinson, has 14 returning starters from a team that went 10-2 last season but is moving up from 2A to 3A.


Burns at Forestview, 7:30 p.m. – The host Jaguars have 14 returning starters, and 17th-year head coach Chris Medlin thinks his team can make noise in the Big South 3A. Facing Burns is a good way to find out. The visiting Bulldogs were 13-2 and 2A state runners-up last year, and QB Ben Mauney, who threw for nearly 3,400 yards last fall, is leading the offense again.


North Mecklenburg at Lake Norman, 7 p.m. – This could be a battle of the Vikings’ wide-open offense against the Lake Norman ground game that head coach Jason Oliphant prefers. The host Wildcats have a huge offensive line and three talented running backs. North Mecklenburg will need to prevent Lake Norman from controlling the ball and eating up the clock.


No. 12 South Point at Lincolnton, 7:30 p.m. – QB Patrick Blee, who was outstanding as a freshman on last fall’s 13-2 team, returns, along with his top two running backs and several offensive linemen. Jaden Angle, Lincolnton’s new head coach, played on the Wolves’ team that won the 2011 state championship. There isn’t a lot of experience in the starting lineup, but QB Andre Bost can run or throw the ball well and has a fleet of returning skill-position players.


Cuthbertson at Parkwood, 7 p.m. – First, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Cuthbertson’s new head coach, Duke Howell, is the father of Washington Commanders QB Sam Howell. The Cavaliers have an experienced and talented defense, led by DL Rocco Fazzolari and DB Carlton Kimani. Parkwood’s new head coach, Sam Mobley, has just seven returning starters, but one of them is QB Elijah Lowery, who threw for nearly 1,200 yards last season.


No. 6 South Pointe at Spartanburg, 7:30 p.m. – South Pointe, No. 12 in the Carolinas Top 25, was 8-4 a year ago, but the Stallions are many peoples’ pick as a 4A state champion contender. A number of defensive standouts return, including DT Miles Wilson, who had a standout season as a freshman. Spartanburg, 17th in the Carolinas Top 25, is trying to fill the hole left by the graduation of QB Raheim Jeter, now at East Carolina. The Vikings have 12 starters returning from a state quarterfinalist last season.


Charlotte Christian vs. Myers Park, at Charlotte Memorial Stadium, noon – Two of Charlotte’s most successful football programs in recent years kick off the Turf Kings Classic tripleheader, in what might be called the Chris James Classic. Each team has a first-year head coach named Chris James. Charlotte Christian is led by WR Micah Gilbert, a Notre Dame commit. Myers Park WR Brody Keefe, a Marvin Ridge transfer, gives QB Wendell Thompson an inviting target.

No. 15 West Charlotte vs. Palisades, at Charlotte Memorial Stadium, 4 p.m. – With 12 returning starters, including some big-time college recruits, West Charlotte opens the season with high hopes. Palisades went 1-9 in the school’s first season, but 21 starters return. The Pumas’ defensive line is considered to be among the best in the county.

No. 2 Hough vs. Byrnes (SC), at Charlotte Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m. – The Huskies are younger than in recent years, but new head coach DeShawn Baker has several FBS commits on the roster. A key will be the development of new QB Trey Blakeney, a junior. After a two-season hiccup, Byrnes is back as a 5A state power in South Carolina. RB R.J. Livingston, who rushed for 830 yards on a 9-4 team last season, is the offensive leader.

No. 1 Providence Day vs. No. 6 Northwestern, at Bank of America Stadium, 7 p.m. – The first-ever boys’ high school football game at the Panthers’ home stadium should be a good one. Providence Day, led by senior QB Jadyn Davis, faces a Northwestern team featuring junior QB Finley Polk, who threw for 3,257 yards last season. With a boatload of other FBS recruits on the two rosters, this game sets the bar pretty high for any high school game to follow at Bank of America Stadium.

Covenant Day at Corvian Community, 7 p.m. – Covenant Day is coming off the school’s best football season (8-4). Corvian went 5-4 a year ago, in its first varsity season. QB-LB Will Andrews leads Covenant Day’s offense and defense. A dozen starters return for Corvian Community, which played as an independent last season but moves to the Catawba Shores 1A-2A this fall.

  • Steve Lyttle

The Picks

Here are predictions for this games from The Observer’s Talking Preps streaming show hosts and WPEG-FM radio personality No Limit Larry.

This week’s schedule

(all kickoffs at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted)

(2002 season records in parentheses)


Mecklenburg nonconference

Ardrey Kell (8-3) at Providence (5-6)

Butler (10-3) at Rolesville (10-4)

Charlotte Catholic (9-3) at South Mecklenburg (5-5)

Charlotte Country Day (4-8) at Swain County (5-7), 7:30

Christ the King (9-3) at Cannon School (8-3)

Hickory Hawks (9-3) at Community School of Davidson (10-2)

East Mecklenburg (2-8) at Berry Academy (2-8)

Harding (3-7) at Brookland-Cayce, SC (7-5)

Hickory Grove Christian (9-2) at Wake Christian (1-10)

Hopewell (1-9) at Garinger (0-10)

Lake Norman Charter (5-5) at SouthLake Christian (0-10)

Mitchell County (8-4) at Charlotte Latin (5-5)

North Mecklenburg (5-5) at Lake Norman (7-4)

Rocky River (2-8) at Porter Ridge (7-4)

West Mecklenburg (5-6) at Olympic (11-1)

Area nonconference

Alexander Central (4-6) at Statesville (7-4), 7:30

Bessemer City (3-8) at East Rutherford (1-9), 7:30

Burns (13-2) at Forestview (4-7), 7:30

Cabarrus Stallions (4-6) at Mountain Island Charter (5-6)

Central Cabarrus (3-7) at Sun Valley (3-7)

Central Davidson (8-3) at Monroe (12-2)

Cherryville (3-8) at Avery County (3-8), 7:30

Cuthbertson (3-7) at Parkwood (5-6)

Draughn (13-2) at Hunter Huss (3-7), 7:30

East Lincoln (16-0) at Stuart Cramer (4-7), 7:30

Forest Hills (9-2) at Ashbrook (4-7), 7:30

Hickory Ridge (6-5) at Jay M. Robinson (9-2)

Highland Tech (0-11) at Greenville (SC) Hurricanes (1-5), 7:30

Jesse Carson (5-6) at Mount Pleasant (8-4)

Metrolina Christian (4-6) at North Raleigh Christian (7-3)

Mooresville (10-2) at Davie County (4-7)

North Gaston (0-10) at East Gaston (6-5), 7:30

North Lincoln (4-6) at West Lincoln (8-3), 7:30

Piedmont (0-10) at Concord (3-7)

Reagan (8-3) at Marvin Ridge (5-6)

South Iredell (4-7) at North Iredell (2-8), 7:30

South Point (13-2) at Lincolnton (6-6), 7:30

Thomas Jefferson Academy (2-9) at West Iredell (1-9), 7:30

Union Academy (2-9) at South Rowan (1-9)

West Cabarrus (0-10) at Northwest Cabarrus (10-2)

West Rowan (9-3) at A.L. Brown (6-5)

S.C. nonconference

Blacksburg (0-10) at Buford (8-3), 7:30

Chester (7-5) at Lancaster (3-7), 7:30

Fort Mill (0-10) at Catawba Ridge (11-2), 7:30

Nation Ford (4-7) at Indian Land (7-5), 7:30

South Pointe (8-4) at Spartanburg (8-5), 7:30


Turf Kings Classic

(at Memorial Stadium)

Charlotte Christian (10-3) vs. Myers Park (3-7), noon

Palisades (1-9) vs. West Charlotte (7-6), 3

Hough (11-3) vs. Byrnes, SC (9-4), 7

Keep Pounding Classic

(at Bank of America Stadium)

Providence Day (12-1) vs. Northwestern (13-2), 7


Covenant Day (8-4) at Corvian Community (5-4)

Week off: Chambers, Pine Lake Prep

Andrew Jackson, Clover, Rock Hill, York