Warriors and Vikings Duel in the First Round of Playoffs

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Warriors and Vikings Duel in the First Round of Playoffs

The NCHSSA brackets place Weddington as the #1 seed.

The NCHSSA brackets place Weddington as the #1 seed.

The NCHSSA brackets place Weddington as the #1 seed.

The NCHSSA brackets place Weddington as the #1 seed.

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In round one of the NCHSAA 3AA playoffs, number one ranked Weddington hosted number 16 ranked South Iredell on a cold and rainy night in town.

South Iredell won the coin toss and elected to receive, rather than defer. The first drive by the Vikings resulted in a quick three-and-out. As kicker Dominic Anastasio launched the football into the air, Colby Barsz signaled for a fair catch at the South Iredell 41 yard line.

The first three plays from the Warriors resulted in Will Shipley gaining 23 total yards. Sophomore running back finished up the drive with a 19-yard touchdown rush that put Weddington up 7-0 with 8:11 left in the first. 

It took all of 11 seconds for the Warriors to score again. Will Shipley picked off senior quarterback Cullen Smith’s first pass of the game and took it to the house for a 27-yard touchdown. This would be the first of two defensive touchdowns on the night, and put Weddington up 14-0 with eight minutes left in the quarter. 

Just as the Vikings were driving downfield, they were stopped just short of a first down on a fourth down conversion attempt, awarding the Warriors the ball. Following an 11-yard pass to Jackson McClain, a seven yard pitch to Shipley, and a 15-yard pass to Dusty Mercer, Dante Casciola topped the drive off with a 38-yard pass to McClain. The quarterback’s showcase of strength put Weddington up 21-0 with three seconds left in the first quarter.

South Iredell’s next drive signaled the end of the first quarter, and there would be no scoring the rest of the half. Ian Williams’ 34-yard field goal attempt was wide left and left the score at 21-0. Following back-to-back interceptions, the clock wound down, thus ending the half at a 21-0 Warrior lead.

The half started rather odd. Instead of kicking the ball off to Weddington, South Iredell attempted, and succeeded, an onside kick, which gave the Vikings the ball at the Weddington 47 to begin the half. After an attempt and fail at a fourth down conversion, Weddington got the ball at their own 28-yard line.

The whole third quarter, there was no score. Both teams’ defense shut down the other’s offense and it was the best football played by South Iredell the whole game. 

It wasn’t until halfway through the fourth quarter that a team scored. Continuing with the theme of stellar defense, senior Malik Mustapha took Smith’s pass attempt 25 yards and into the endzone to bring the Warriors to a 28-0 lead. 

South Iredell’s next drive was a three and out, and resulted in a punt. Starting at the South Iredell 49, sophomore quarterback Grady Brosterhous, senior running back Trey Gordon, and sophomore running back Kyle Parsons led the Warriors downfield. Parsons scored the final touchdown of the game on a 38-yard rush, putting Weddington up 35-0 with 3:43 left in the game.

The Warrior defense was the story of the game. Despite penalties, they score two touchdowns and shut out the Vikings. They got to the quarterback and running backs quickly and had excellent coverage of the wide receivers.

35-0 would be your final score of the game as the Warriors advance to the second round of the playoffs. On Friday, Weddington will host number eight ranked Parkland, who is coming off a 38-34 nail-biter against Alexander Central.