North Mecklenburg Vikings
Brad Baker takes over as coach after being an assistant at Mooresville High, and the slate is clean following last season’s 1-10 struggle. When asked how many starters return, Baker said “Since I’m new, starting positions are not guaranteed. Every position is up for grabs.”
The Vikings have several talented players on both sides of the ball. Baker said he’s been impressed with his players’ desire, passion and enthusiasm. Depth could be a problem, as the Vikings don’t have a huge roster. Avoiding injuries will be vital.
It’s been rough for North Mecklenburg the past two seasons, as it has adjusted to a smaller enrollment because of Hough High opening nearby. But Baker played a role in Mooresville’s success (20 wins the past two seasons) and likely will get the program pointed in the right direction.
The backfield will be new, so the players will need time to gel. A plus is having senior Sheldon Kinard (6-foot-1 and 250 pounds) at center. He’s a three-year starter. Tahjai Watt, an all-conference defensive end, will double as a wide receiver. At 6-5, he’s an inviting target to whoever is selected as North Meck’s quarterback.
This experienced group should be much-improved from last season, when it gave up 30 or more points in eight games. Greg Mobley (5-11, 225) will anchor the defensive line, and Watt is an effective pass-rusher at end. Linebackers Lucas Santiago, Jaylon Bridges and Xavier Samuels are a talented bunch. The secondary is led by senior Karl Roberts and junior Devon Sutton.
There aren’t a lot of returning faces here, so it may take some time for roles to be determined. One area of stability will be long snapper Michael Payne, a returning starter.
– Cliff Mehrtens