Sports Shorts for October 15th

by Chris Hunt

Titans have key league matchup this week

The Hopewell High football team is off to its best start since 2008, when the Titans won the first conference championship in school history. But although it has two more wins than the N.C. High School Athletic Association minimum for postseason eligibility, coach Chris Rust still doesn’t think his team has done enough to earn one of the league’s four playoff bids.

With four tough games remaining against Mooresville, Mallard Creek, Vance and North Meck, it’s still possible that Hopewell (6-1, 3-0 in the I-MECK 4A) could finish fifth or even worse.

The remaining game that could affect Hopewell’s season the most could be its next one, against Mooresville on Friday, Oct. 15. The Blue Devils are 1-2 in conference play but lost only to title contenders Mallard Creek and Vance. If Mooresville beats Hopewell, it would have three games left against Hough, North Meck and Lake Norman – teams expected to finish in the I-MECK 4A basement.

A victory would put Hopewell in a strong position for the conference race, but a loss would give life to the Blue Devils, who are more than capable of running the table to finish 5-2 in the league with the tie-breaker over the Titans.

“We need the next few games because we could still finish fifth or sixth in the conference,” said Rust. “Mooresville can put some points on the board. They dropped 35 points on West Charlotte, and our defense faces a challenge against a good quarterback (Patrick O’Brien). Mooresville has a lot going for itself because it just finished the tough part of their conference schedule.”

• Throughout the season, Hopewell has displayed a strong rushing game, but the improvement of its aerial attack is one of the biggest reasons it’s won four in a row. Opposing defenses no longer can key solely on Hopewell’s talented stable of running backs because of quarterback Cole Blythe’s rising confidence. After starting three games last season, Blythe said he feels as if he’s entering his second season of play. This year, he got off to a shaky start when he failed to surpass 100 yards passing in his first four games. But since then, Blythe’s thrown for more than 140 yards in each of his last three contests.

Receiver Leroy Jackson has been Blythe’s favorite target. Before the Titans’ 51-13 victory over Lake Norman, Jackson had 14 catches for 254 yards and hauled in all four of Blythe’s touchdown throws. But now Blythe’s spreading the ball around and even found Brandon Bennett for two scores against the Wildcats. Blythe said he’s been feeling much more confident with his receivers since he threw for two scores in a win over West Charlotte, a team Hopewell had never beaten.

Fields makes All-American Bowl

Huntersville resident Mark Fields has been selected to play in the 2011 Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl, which features the top seventh- and eighth-graders in the nation.

Fields, the son of the former Carolina Panthers linebacker with the same name, is an eighth-grade cornerback at Davidson Day School.

Another Davidson Day student, offensive tackle Ronald Albritton of Mooresville, also was chosen for the bowl game, which will be played Jan. 9 in San Antonio, Texas.

Fields and Albritton were scheduled to be honored with a special jersey presentation Oct. 14 at Davidson Day.

Hopewell lacrosse coach resigns

Hopewell boys club varsity lacrosse coach Dan McMahon has resigned.

Hopewell athletics director Jamie Billings said in an e-mail that McMahon left the program to take a “job as a youth lacrosse director” elsewhere.

McMahon led the Titans to five victories in the program’s first two seasons. The Titans finished 4-11 last spring.

Iron kids return home

On Oct. 3, seven Huntersville and Cornelius youth triathletes made the trip to the IronKids National Championship in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Riley Gallagher (Huntersville), Hallie Amat (Huntersville), Hannah Wilder (Cornelius), Taylor Hughes (Huntersville), Brandon Ellington (Cornelius), Malia Ellington (Cornelius) and Hannah Ellington (Cornelius) qualified for the event for children ages 6 to 15 this summer after finishing at least eighth in regional meets in Raleigh and Alpharetta, Georgia.

Malia Ellington brought home the gold with a time of 42 minutes, 24 seconds in the 300-meter swim, 8-mile bike ride and 2-mile run race for girls ages 12 to 15. Taylor Hughes finished fourth (45:55) and Hannah Ellington was 13th (50:28) in the 12-year-old girls division.

In the 9- to 11-year-old race, which included a 150-meter swim, 4-mile bike ride and 1-mile run, Amat finished 36th with a time of 29:11, while Gallagher came in 21st (27:38) in the 10-year-old girls race. Brandon Ellington cracked the top 10 in the 10-year-old boys event, turning in a ninth-place effort (25:33).

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