CORNELIUS – The high school football season is beyond the halfway point and three lake-area teams haven’t lost yet.
Hough High is 5-0. Davidson Day is 6-0. So is SouthLake Christian Academy.
Will the perfection continue? What’s made these squads so potent? Which opponent has the best chance of ending the streak?
Here’s a look at each team:
• HOUGH: It was a perfect confluence that allowed Josh Stilley to set Hough passing records Sept. 27. Good protection. A bevy of sure-handed receivers. A strong, accurate arm.
The results were gaudy for Hough, which crushed rival Hopewell 42-13 in the MECKA 4A conference opener for both teams. Stilley passed for a career-high 294 yards and six touchdowns, including three to wideout Caleb Hines.
“The deep ball was opening up nice tonight,” said Stilley, a senior whose been a starter since he was a freshman. “Caleb Hines was able to run past them and I just put it out there. Carl Tucker had some good pick body plays. It was just good execution by the offense.”
Stilley’s first scoring pass was a 64-yarder to Hines over the middle. The second was a 68-yarder to Tucker on the second play of the second quarter. The third scoring pass was Stilley’s perfectly lofted 29-yarder to running back Tylan Murrell, who’d slipped behind a defender into the end zone.
The crusher for Hopewell came late in the first half when Hough safety Akeem Barringer made a diving interception at the Hough 48. One play later, Swilley connected on a 46-yard touchdown pass to Hines for a 28-6 lead.
Hough capitalized on three first-half turnovers. Brandon Cassarino recovered a fumble, and Anthony Sherrill and Barringer each had an interception.
Corey Bell’s 28-yard punt return set up Stilley’s fifth touchdown pass, an 18-yarder to Corey Sutton early in the third quarter. Stilley capped his record game with 35-yard connection with Hines 20 seconds into the fourth quarter.
“Having a lot of good receivers makes it easier because the defense can’t key in on one guy,” Stilley said. “It opens up the field that much more when you have two or three threats running routes.”
Hough has effectively run the ball, too. The defense is fast and aggressive. Hough, which this week hosts winless Concord Robinson, is headed to a showdown against conference favorite Mallard Creek on Oct. 11.
• DAVIDSON DAY: The Patriots boast the state’s best offensive player (quarterback Will Grier) and a defense that has shut out the past two opponents. Davidson Day, idle this week, won 45-0 at Marvin Ridge, a Class 3A public school, on Sept. 27.
Grier leads North Carolina in passing yards (2,228) and touchdown passes (38). He’s thrown at least five scoring passes in all six games, and his 73.2 completion percentage (150-of-205) leads the state, too.
“Will is excelling mentally as much as anything right now,” Davidson Day coach Chad Grier said. “He has a thorough understanding of our play concepts and of what we are trying to accomplish against different looks on defense. He is playing like a coach on the field. It certainly helps that he can make all the throws, and if he doesn't like what he sees, he will hurt you with his legs.”
Davidson Day, which has won state titles each of its two varsity seasons, is much improved on defense. Chad Grier said linebackers Matt Stevens and Lamar Briggs “have been great all season.” Trevor Darby and Chase Monroe were playing well before injuries, and Tyler Stevens is a hard hitter. The defensive front is led by freshmen Garrett Groulx and Ryan Titus, and sophomores Ricky Smith, Jake Helms and Dustin Tyler. Mike Stevens (a Kansas State commitment) anchors the secondary.
Charlotte Latin (5-0) looms on the Patriots’ schedule. It will be an Oct. 25 road game.
• SOUTHLAKE CHRISTIAN: The Eagles are averaging 45.2 points without being overly fancy. They’re running effectively with sophomore Robert Washington Jr., which opens up passing lanes and often creates man-on-man coverage.
“We are executing simple game plans in all three phases,” SouthLake coach Geoff O’Donnell said. “We're being fundamental, not flashy.”
The defense has played well all season, especially against the run. Linebackers Grant Bushinski, Jaylen Nash, Zack Dudan and Jack Fording have worked well as a group. So have linemen Caleb Lowery, Taurus Dameron, Blake Queen, Sam Murphy and Garren Hatley.
SouthLake will face a tough test Oct. 4 when it hosts Providence Day (4-2).