Football Notebook for November

Hopper earns Army All-American Bowl honors

Mountain Island resident Germone Hopper, a senior at Berry Academy, was selected to play in the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

The prestigious game will be played on Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The annual East vs. West matchup will be televised live on NBC at 1 p.m. The game will feature 90 of the nation’s top high school football players.

Hopper will be joined in the All-American Bowl by his teammate, linebacker Nick Dawson.

The All-American Bowl has featured several future college and NFL stars, including Adrian Peterson, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Lattimore and Andrew Luck.

Last year’s game drew a crowd of nearly 38,000 to the Alamodome and was the most-watched sporting event on television over the weekend, excluding the NFL playoffs.

Hawks fall short of playoffs

During one stretch this season, West Mecklenburg had a three-game winning streak, and it looked as if the Hawks would fulfill one of their pre-season goals and make it to the state playoffs.

Unfortunately, though, they lost five of their final six games and were eliminated from playoff contention last week with a 22-20 home loss to East Gaston on Senior Night.

The Hawks finished the season with a record of 4-7, 2-4 in the MEGA 7 3A/4A conference.

In the final game of his career, West Meck senior Corey “Flash” Nesmith led the Hawks with two touchdown catches from sophomore quarterback Jalan McClendon.

Hopewell’s Heath makes Shrine Bowl

Hopewell High running back/linebacker Denzel Heath, one of the area’s best two-way players, was picked to play in the 75th Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas on Dec. 17 in Spartanburg, S.C.

The game, which will benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children, matches the top 44 seniors from North Carolina against those from South Carolina.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Heath has rushed for more than 1,000 yards yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He’s also the Titans’ top defensive player.

“Denzel making the Shrine Bowl was a great accomplishment for himself and the Hopewell football program,” first-year Titans coach David Johnson said. “Through the whole year Denzel has exemplified what Hopewell football is about. Playing every play with maximum effort, Denzel has been a leader for us on both sides of the ball.

“Whether we need a huge first down and he has to carry the ball, or a stop on fourth down, Denzel has stepped up in every big situation,” Johnson continued. “I could not be prouder of this young man, and I am glad to see that his efforts are being recognized outside the city of Charlotte.”

Eagle standouts named to Oasis All-Star game

Three SouthLake Christian Academy players were named to the North Carolina team in the Oasis All-Star Shrine Game.

SouthLake Christian offensive lineman Troy Lowden and defensive linemen Taylor Jurney and Scott Richardson were among the 36 players named to the North Carolina team.

The game will be played Nov. 25 at 1 p.m. at Charlotte Country Day School. It matches the state’s top 36 private-school seniors against those from South Carolina. Proceeds from the game will benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Lowden has been a key blocker for a SouthLake Christian offense that gained more than 3,000 yards in nine games. Jurney has 54 tackles and a team-high 15 sacks. Richardson leads the Eagles with 64 tackles, and he has 12 sacks.

Area resident Lawrence shining

This year is shaping up to be a great one for Charlotte Christian junior Dez Lawrence, who lives in the Mountain Island area.

During the summer, Lawrence received his first scholarship offer, from the University of South Carolina. Early in the 2011 campaign, Lawrence established himself as one of the county’s best cornerbacks and wide receivers. And in recent weeks, he’s become one of the area’s most effective running backs, averaging more than 170 yards and two touchdowns per game on the ground.

Last month, Lawrence received more good news, when N.C. State University offered him a scholarship, pushing his total to two.

“But once more people see his film and see what he’s doing, he’s going to have way more than that,” Christian coach Jason Estep said.

In a recent 49-29 victory over Carolina Pride, Lawrence had one of the best all-around games you’ll see. Filling in for starting running back Bo Hines for the second consecutive game, Lawrence ran for 207 yards and two touchdowns. On defense, he intercepted three passes, including one he returned 55 yards for a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining to seal the win.

The week before, Lawrence ran for 136 yards – including an 83-yard scoring jaunt – and three total scores in a Charlotte Independent Schools Athletic Association loss at Charlotte Latin. Estep said Lawrence’s play epitomizes the Knights’ mind-set entering the season.

“We feel like we’ve established ourselves up front where we can run the football,” Estep said. “Going into the season, we were committed to that, and Dez has added a spark to that. He has the potential every time he touches the ball to make one guy miss and be off to the races.

“We’re really happy that Dez is doing that and ballin’ out on defense, too. He’s got a huge upside.”

Estep said the offers from South Carolina and N.C. State provide only a glimpse of how big a recruiting target Lawrence can become.

“It’s going to snow-ball, and he’s going to have to deal with that,” Estep said. “I think the good thing is he’s got a pretty good coaching staff here keeping him grounded; we really preach that it is about our season, not about this season and three years from now.

“We’re going to try to keep him focused on his high school career and not so much about playing at the next level. Those days are going to come for him, God willing he stays healthy and everything works out. But he’s doing a pretty good job of handling things so far.”

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