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2021 FOOTBALL PREVIEW: West Stanly

The landscape for the 2021 football season will change this season for many teams, including the West Stanly Colts.

West has been moving in a positive direction in terms of wins and losses for head coach Brett Morton. Going into his fifth season, Morton has had three winning seasons in a row which includes last year’s abbreviated campaign.

He also has the highest win percentage of the 17 coaches who have coached the Colts. Morton’s mark of 56.76 percent is just higher than the school’s all-time coaching wins leader, Mark Little (53.08 percent).

The Colts were 3-1 in four Rocky River Conference games, including three consecutive defensive shutouts, a first in the program’s 60-year history. The only longer shutout streak came when Albemarle opened the 2003 season with five straight shutouts.

West Stanly still reigns as the defending Stanly Cup Champions from the 2019 season as well.

This season, the Colts have new conference and non-conference opponents. The team opens the season with three county games in four weeks.

West will have four Rocky River Conference football opponents, including two new teams, Monroe and Parkwood, both of which were previously conference foes for the Colts in 2016. Parkwood is still a 3A school while Monroe drops back to the 2A classification.

Here are five questions for Coach Morton along with his answers in full:

1) Gavin Hudson was such a big part of last season for West Stanly both in the middle of the defense and at fullback. Will he be available to play this season? If so, how effective will he be to start the season? If he is not available, who will have to step up for him on both sides of the ball to fill his absence?

Gavin will not be able to play this season. Gavin put together a really solid spring and to see his high school career cut short and not get the payoff of all the things that come with being a senior and really enjoying all of that has been hard.

As far as stepping up on the defensive side of the ball will be Jesse Boone, who has worked very hard this offseason and summer to fill that role.

Offensively, Braden Hartsell and Gavin were sharing duties to keep each other fresh. Braden will carry the load at fullback and he is a very hard worker and a good runner as well. He is a very capable fullback.

2) Who are some of the team’s offensive players which will have to produce big numbers this season, both returning and new?

Braden Hartsell, Matthew Parker, Carson Morton, Jacob Lisk, Jax Hall, Khaleel McAuley, Hayden Hunsucker and Shane Mecimore. We are looking for big time contributions from all of those guys.

3) West’s defense in the shortened season put together three straight shutouts for the first time in school history. Who were some of the players returning this season which had major roles in that run, along with newcomers to the defense which need to produce right away?

Jacob Lisk, Jamarquis Morrison, Nick Barringer, Carter Miller, Caden Edwards, Braden Hartsell, Khaleel McAuley, they are all coming back on defense from the squad in the spring. Hayden Hunsucker, Kreed Osborne, Landon Barbee and Alex Yarbrough are all guys who will make major contributions.

4) The addition of former RRC teams Monroe and Parkwood along with the departure of Mount Pleasant shakes up the conference for sure. How will the new football programs in the RRC affect the conference overall as a whole?

Obviously, the conference is extremely competitive. There are no games to look past. Monroe and Parkwood are solid programs and good additions to the conference.

5) West Stanly was one win away from earning the team’s third straight appearance in the playoffs. What will it take overall as a team and a program to get back to the playoffs?

We need to continue to get better each week. We need to get key contributions from the young guys moving up early. Senior leadership is crucial as they will carry the load early and throughout the season.

Getting back in the rhythm of the fall season and trying to keep COVID issues to a minimum will be key as well. We have to win the close games and stay disciplined.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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