Red Devils crush Knights, set sights on North Lincoln

Newton-Conover linebacker Allan Shade (24) tackles Lake Norman Charter running back Jaden Goodman (11) in the backfield during the first quarter of Friday’s South Fork 2A game in Huntersville. (Photo by Cody Dalton/ CSD Photography)Newton-Conover running back Sakarri Morrison (34) stiff arms North Lincoln defender Jaden Goodman (11) during the fourth quarter of Friday’s conference game hosted by the Knights. (Photo by Cody Dalton/ CSD Photography)
Cody Dalton
O-N-E Contributor

After dispatching one set of Knights on Friday, the Newton-Conover football team turns its attention to its biggest test of the season Friday at home against another team of Knights.

Behind a balanced offensive and defensive effort, the Red Devils marched to a 50-7 conference road victory against Lake Norman Charter, setting up a showdown of unbeaten teams in the South Fork 2A this Friday at Gurley Stadium against North Lincoln.

Second-year Newton-Conover head coach Steven Pack was pleased with how his team played.

“We played a good game,” Pack said. “It’s not an easy place to play with this environment, but I thought our kids responded well. We had a good week of preparation. I don’t think we had a letdown at all. I thought we worked hard and got better. I’m just trying to convince them that we aren’t just getting for one week ever. We’re getting better to build a program. We’re trying to get better every week so that we can do big things now and in the future.”

Newton-Conover (6-2, 4-0) immediately seized control of Friday’s contest and never looked back, gaining a 22-0 lead near the six-minute mark of the first quarter.

Senior running back Allen Wilfong scored two rushing touchdowns from eight and three yards — sandwiching a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown by junior defensive back Quincey Spain.

The Red Devils finished Friday’s game with 378 yards of total offense — 153 through the air and 225 on the ground. Junior quarterback Justice Craig threw for 153 yards, completing 12 of 18 passes, including a team-high four passes to wideout Brandon Johnson for 73 yards.

Wilfong led Newton-Conover in rushing with 93 yards on nine carries and three touchdowns, while Allan Shade rushed for 78 yards and two scores. Shade also recorded two sacks on defense.

Pack is pleased with how many layers his offense can showcase during any given game.

“I just think we’re pretty balanced,” he said. “Offensively, I think we’re pretty good running the football. We’ve got two good backs. I think either one of them could start for a lot of people. I think our receivers are dang good. Our quarterback is making good decisions. He’s doing good things. I think we are fairly balanced offensively, which I like.”

The Red Devil defense continued its string of strong performances, creating four turnovers and tallying three sacks.

NC sophomore linebacker Sakarri Morrison forced his third fumble of the season and recovered it for the second time in 2019, while fellow sophomore Zane Redmond made an interception. Redmond also had a receiving touchdown in the game.

“Defensively, we can always get better, but I think we are flying around good,” Pack said. “Coach (Chris) Hinson has really done a good job of getting those guys ready. We’re getting closer to being a really good defense. We’re not there yet, but they are putting everything into getting better every week.”

Lake Norman Charter (1-7, 0-4) ended the shutout bid late in the fourth quarter after scooping up a Red Devil fumble and taking it 35 yards for a score.

Newton-Conover’s focus now shifts to its most important game of the season in an unbeaten conference clash against North Lincoln (7-1, 4-0), which shut out Maiden 42-0 at home on Friday.

Pack has watched North Lincoln on tape this season and has been impressed with what he’s seen.

“We’ve got a big one next week,” Pack said. “We are about as healthy as we can be. We’ll have to have a great week of preparation. We know they are good. Our kids read the newspapers and see the scores. They know North Lincoln is good. North Lincoln is 4-0. We are 4-0. We are the last two undefeated teams in conference. We feel like we’re relevant, and we feel like we’re doing everything we should be doing. I hope it’s a huge crowd next for our school and our community. I just hope our kids play to the best of their ability. We’ll see what happens.”