Warriors Slay the Mustangs to Advance to Round Three


Senior Dusty Mercer stands ready while on offense against Parkland during the second round of the playoffs. His efforts along with the rest of the offensive line are what enabled Weddington to have such a stellar season.

On a neon-themed night in Weddington, the Warriors were set to square off with the Parkland Mustangs in the second round of the NCHSAA playoffs. 

The Warriors won the coin toss, but deferred and awarded Parkland the ball first. Following a tense 26-yard pass and a two-yard run, senior Tagrt Houghton came up big with a sack that pushed the ball back 26 yards. The massive loss forced the Mustangs to punt the ball away. 

The drive started off at the Weddington 30-yard line. The Warriors’ first drive of the game was mostly Will Shipley. With the exception of a 25-yard pass to senior Dusty Mercer, Shipley had a five-yard catch and ten-yard run. This set the Warriors up at the Parkland 35. Shipley capped the drive off with a 35-yard run to the endzone. Williams’s extra point was good- and with 7:39 left in the first quarter, Weddington was up 7-0.

It didn’t take long for the ball to be back in the hands of the Warrior offense. Following a 13-yard pass for a first down and two incomplete passes, senior Colby Barsz picked off Camien Shell at the Weddington 20. On the first play of the drive, junior quarterback Dante Casciola flicked the ball to Kambridge Tuttle, who threw the ball 80 yards downfield to Jackson McClain for a touchdown. With the extra point perfect, Weddington had a 14-0 lead with 5:30 left.

Parkland’s next drive started with a touchback. There looked to be hope for the team after a 21-yard pass downfield, but a two-yard run and two incomplete passes, the Mustangs were forced to punt.

Colby Barsz signaled for a fair catch at the Warrior 23. Once again, Will Shipley took the ball to the house for a 77-yard run on the first play of the drive. Another extra point from Ian Williams put Weddington up 21-0 with 3:14 left in the first quarter. 

The rest of the quarter had no score and wound down during Parkland’s fifth drive. 

Weddington’s next drive took up about half of the second quarter and started on their own 49. Trey Gordon carried the ball for five yards and Casciola kept the ball and ran it for seven yards and a first down. On a fourth and four, Coach Andy Capone made the decision to do a direct snap to Will Shipley to try to convert. They succeeded, and Shipley ran the ball for four extra yards. Sophomore Landyn Backey had a seven-yard run, followed by Mercer carrying the ball ten yards. Dusty Mercer finished off the drive with a three-yard touchdown rush, putting Weddington up 28-0 with 7:15 left in the second quarter. 

Parkland took the ball all the way downfield for a touchdown. They failed at a two-point conversion attempt and kicked the ball off.

Weddington started to drive downfield, but after multiple incomplete passes, the Warriors were forced to punt the ball away.

In an attempt to cut the Warrior lead in half, Parkland attempted to convert on fourth down, but failed and gave Weddington the ball. Casciola immediately threw an interception and Parkland’s next drive started at the 50. Three plays later, Shell threw an interception of his own and Weddington started off with the ball at their own twelve.

The final play of the half was mind-boggling. Following a 27-yard gain from both Backey and Barsz, Casciola passed the ball to Shipley, who lateraled it the McClain. McClain ran for about 50 yards before being stopped just short of the goalline as the half expired.

Malik Mustapha received the kickoff and returned the ball to the Parkland 27, putting the Warriors in excellent field position. Shipley ran the ball 15 yards, but a defensive stop on a run by Backey lost five yards. The next play was a handoff to Shipley and resulted in a 17-yard touchdown run. Weddington took a commanding 35-6 lead with 10:53 left in the third.

 Parkland took the ball out to the 33-yard line following a touchback and an eight-yard run. They lost two yards on a rush. In desperation mode, the Mustangs went on fourth down, but Shell was sacked for a 22-yard loss. Weddington got the ball at the Parkland six yard line. 

In just two plays, Trey Gordon ran the ball to the endzone, and put the Warriors up 42-6. According to NCHSAA rules, if a team has a 35 point lead, there is a running clock except for timeouts by coaches or officials, commonly known as “mercy rule”. With 8:39 left on the clock, Weddington’s victory seemed guaranteed. 

A three-and-out for Parkland resulted in a punt and the ball was returned by Backey to the Parkland 17. This set sophomore running back Kyle Parsons up for a seven-yard touchdown run. Sophomore kicker Matthew Moonan’s extra point put Weddington up 49-6 with 6:38 left in the third. 

Parkland’s next drive resulted in another three-and-out. Backey signaled for a fair catch around the Parkland 40, with the clock winding down as the drive went on.

Following a lot of confusion and two personal fouls on Parkland, Weddington was sitting on the one yard line. Trevor McGee took the ball into the endzone and set the score at 56-6 with 3:55 left in the game.

Parkland did nothing on their final drive and ended the game, securing both an impressive win for the Warriors and Weddington’s place in the next round of playoffs.

Your final score was 56-6. 

Friday, November 29th, the Warriors will host the Northwest Cabarrus. The Trojans, who knocked Marvin Ridge out in the first round, are coming off of a 56-35 win over Northern Gulliford.