What you need to know about Jacksonville-area men’s football in 2021
High school football season is here – Will the region have another state champion this season after Croatan won their first title earlier this year and Dixon won their second title in program history in 2019?
We will soon see which teams separate from the rest. Here are 10 things to know about regional teams.
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Following:The Daily News 2021 Winter All-Zone Men’s Soccer Team
Cardinals reload – with seniors
Jacksonville did not field any senior, 12 juniors, four sophomores and eight freshmen last season en route to a 10-3 overall, 9-1 in the Coastal 3-A conference and advance to the second round of the NCHSAA playoffs.
The Cardinals enter this season with eight seniors, including David Newsham, Ethan Gillette and Moises Navar, as well as five juniors, eight sophomores and one freshman.
Jacksonville is still expected to be one of the top teams in the new Big Carolina 3-A / 4-A conference which also includes New Bern, JH Rose and DH Conley. The Cardinals have won a conference title every season since 2017. They also qualified for the Eastern Regional Finals between 2005-14, 2017 and 2019, winning state titles in 2005 and 2012 and playing in the state final in 2006, 2008 and 2013.
Vikings are young
New White Oak coach Mike Larose wasn’t lying when he said this year’s Vikings would be young.
The White Oak roster consists of just four seniors and two juniors, five sophomores and nine freshmen. The large freshman class in college can be attributed to the Vikings lacking a JV squad this season.
But Larose said the team is talented. The Vikings are looking to bounce back from a 3-7-1 record last season.
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Monarchs on the prowl?
Northside isn’t necessarily known for its football, but the Monarchs have had seasons where they’ve been on the verge of taking it to the next level.
They made the playoffs in 2016 and 2017, going 9-12-1 and 8-11-1 those seasons. After going 2-8-4 in 2018, Northside went 6-13-1 in 2019 before ending 1-8-1 last season. They also enjoyed four winning seasons from 2013 to 2015.
Good end for the pirates
Swansboro did not make the playoffs last season, despite closing the regular season on a six-game winning streak to finish 9-3-1 overall and 7-3 in the conference. One of those wins was a 7-4 overtime win over conference champion Jacksonville.
During that winning streak, the Pirates outscored their opponents 27-6, good momentum coming this season for Swansboro, who will field seven seniors.
Returning talent for the Wildcats
Richlands graduated from senior Riley Stone, who had 14 goals and 11 assists last year, but the Wildcats have a handful of returning players who have helped the team reach a 13-3-1 and come out on top. qualifying for the NCHSAA 2-A East Regional Finals for the first time. last season.
The big name is senior Kai Blizzard, who has scored 19 goals and eight assists. Junior Alan Guzman is also returning after scoring two goals and collecting seven assists last season, while senior midfielder Logan Whaley also returns to bring his experience.
Cougars trying to rehearse
Can Croatan win another state title after the Cougars finished 18-0 and won the 2-A state crown last season in March?
While things appear to be more difficult in 3-A after the NCHSAA realignment, the Cougars have their fair share of all-state players such as senior forward Eli Simonette (15 goals, eight assists), midfielder. junior field Danny Metcalf (four goals, 15 assists) and senior Garrett Boucher (15 goals, four assists).
The Cougars, on paper, should be among the favorites to win the new Coastal 3-A conference, which also features Dixon, Richlands, Swansboro and White Oak.
Bulldogs are consistent
Dixon has remained competitive since Kevin Hart replaced Kevin Hicks as coach ahead of the 2016 season.
Hart is 84-16-5 as a head coach, including 25-1-1, and won the 2-A national title in 2019. The Bulldogs are 6-4-1 this season. last. Dixon, who moved up to 3-A this year after the NCHSAA realignment, has not had a losing season since his 9-11-3 in 2013.
Stallions up and down
The Southwest has seen ups, downs and seasons in between since the Stallions won the 1-A State title in 2012.
They were around .500 in 2013 (9-8-5) and 2017 (11-13-1) and finished last season 5-5-1. Southwest had strong seasons in 2014 (15-5-3) and 2018 (10-4-1 and conference title shared with Croatan and Dixon), but also went 6-12-1 in 2015, 0-13- 2 in 2016 and 4-14 in 2019.
Panthers in search of a race
East Duplin remains in the East Central 2-A conference with Wallace-Rose Hill and James Kenan, but is also joined in the league by the Southwest and Lenoir County teams.
The Panthers are set to be one of the best teams in the league after graduating seven seniors from last year’s squad which went 5-6-1 overall and 4-5-1 in the ECC. East Duplin was also 9-11-1 in 2019 and 16-7-2 in 2018. Their best season in recent years came in 2017 when they were 21-4 and lost 1-0 to First Flight during the Eastern Regional Final.
Devilpups back in the field
Lejeune is back after failing to field a team last season due to COVID-19 military protocols.
Longtime coach Charles Teegarden is also returning. Teegarden was the region’s Coach of the Year in 2018 after leading the Devilpups to a 12-6 record and a move to the NCHSAA 1-A Eastern Regional Final.
Lejeune went 5-15 in 2019.
Chris Miller can be contacted by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @jdnsports.