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Newton-Conover's Isrrael Suarez (9) makes a play on the ball during the game against Hickory Thursday in Hickory. David Scearce/Record

The fall sports season continues to roll right along, with some sports having started conference play and others preparing to begin league action in the coming weeks. As with any week, there are certain matchups that stand out above the rest this week.

Here is a look at what’s scheduled to take place.

1) Fred T. Foard at Newton-Conover boys soccer (Thursday)

It was a magical season in 2014 when both Newton-Conover and Fred T. Foard played in the state boys soccer championships. Since then, the two programs have gone in different directions.

Newton-Conover has continued deep runs in the state playoffs and added another 2A state title in 2017 to go with its 2014 crown. The Red Devils then made a surprising run to a 2A West championship last year before finishing as the state runner-up. With most everybody back, the Red Devils again are strong contenders.

Meanwhile, the Tigers have had their ups and downs since a 3A state runner-up finish in 2014. Depleted of a strong senior class, Foard won just 16 games the next two seasons, but the Tigers gave eventual 2016 3A champion Marvin Ridge all it could handle in a 1-0 defeat in the first round.

That near upset spurred Foard on a year later and it finally climbed back above .500 in 2017. Yet, it dropped back to 8-12-3 last year. But another close loss in the first round of the playoffs may have shown the potential that perhaps is being realized now.

As Foard approaches Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference play in another week, the Tigers have prepared for that slate with a competitive schedule. Foard opened the season with a tie against Ledford, then scored wins over Hendersonville and Wilkes Central, all three playoff teams from a year ago. The Tigers stretched the season-opening unbeaten streak to five with a tie vs. St. Stephens and a win over Crest. A bit of reality set in during a 5-1 loss at East Lincoln, which appears primed for a run at a 2A state title.

The Tigers will have a pair of road games this week that will give them a clearer view of who they are before league play sets in. They’ll play at North Lincoln (4-1-2) before going to Newton-Conover.

The Red Devils suffered their first loss (5-1) of the year last week at Hickory and they’ll have a week off to soothe their wounds and make adjustments. Both teams will look to this game wanting a win for different reasons. For Foard, it’s about respectability. For the Red Devils, a rebound heading into South Fork 2A Conference play.

2) Bunker Hill volleyball at Draughn (Monday)

It could be argued that Draughn had a surprising week to open the Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference. The Wildcats, who got the last at-large bid in the 2A state playoffs last season, opened this year at 4-1, with the one loss coming in five sets at South Fork 2A Conference perennial contender Maiden.

Yet, reality was at hand when Draughn opened the conference season by hosting West Iredell, the 2A West Region runner-up a year ago and the 2A state runner-up in 2017. However, the Wildcats became the first Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference team other than Fred T. Foard to defeat West Iredell when they outlasted the Warriors in five sets.

The shine from the big win wore off quickly when Patton, fresh off a sweep at the hands of Foard the day before, delivered a dominant sweep of the Wildcats.

Draughn (5-2 overall) enters the week tied with a group of six teams for second at 1-1, all behind Foard. Among that group is Bunker Hill (6-2, 1-1), which would like to take a step forward after third- and fourth-place finishes the last two years. The Bears opened the conference season by sweeping Hibriten, then were swept themselves by Foard.

In what is shaping up to be a tough league, the winner here will have a leg up for second, and a fighting chance to catch Foard with a win later in the season.

3) Hickory, Fred T. Foard volleyball at South Iredell (Saturday)

One of the highlights of the volleyball season will be a matchup between Fred T. Foard and Hickory. Unfortunately, the lone match on the docket will take place at South Iredell this Saturday as part of a tri-match with the Vikings. The three teams are a combined 20-2 this season.

Foard continues to roll through all comers and enter the week at 8-0 with just two sets lost to this point. Its win total includes a sweep over Maiden and a 3-1 win at North Iredell. The Tigers will get Hibriten and West Caldwell this week, which combined are 1-12. Barring an upset, Foard will get a tough test to its unbeaten mark from both opponents this Saturday.

One notch Foard would like to rack up is a win over Hickory. The Red Tornadoes come into this week at 5-1, with their lone loss to defending 3A state title winner Marvin Ridge. Among the Red Tornadoes’ wins include decisions over West Iredell and Davie, which was 22-3 last season. Hickory has won eight in a row over the Tigers dating back to 2013.

South Iredell is 7-1 with the lone loss against 4A playoff team Ardrey Kell.

Teams may do well to earn a split this weekend. A sweep of the other two would help for playoff seeding later. For certain, all three will get a taste of quality, state-level competition this weekend.

4) South Caldwell at Hibriten football (Friday)

Based on early results, the question comes to mind: Is South Caldwell closing the gap with Hibriten?

After losing four of five to South Caldwell previously, Hibriten has owned the Spartans the last three years by a margin of 165-12. But the pendulum could be swinging back to the Spartans, who are ready to reclaim the Caldwell county championship.

South Caldwell opened up with a rout of West Caldwell before edging Maiden. Last Friday, the Spartans got a sense of where they are after a 34-24 loss to Bandys during which they gave up 306 yards on the ground.

That’s usually not a good recipe when facing Hibriten, which always seems to have a half-dozen runners in its stable that can break a big gain at any moment. Though the Panthers are off to a 2-1 start, the resumes of those they’ve played are fair-to-middling. The opening-night loss to Alexander Central looks more ominous after the Cougars were beaten at home by Statesville. Hibriten blew out an 0-3 Hickory team using its third-string quarterback. Last week, the Panthers needed a 24-point fourth quarter to beat winless Ashe County.

Hibriten still has the talent to take out South Caldwell, but the likelihood of a close game is there. A win by the Spartans would not be a surprise.

Others to watch:

Football: Newton-Conover at Hendersonville (Friday). A 2-1 Red Devils team takes to the road to play 2-0 Hendersonville this week. A victory would put Newton-Conover within a win of its total from 2018, when it went 4-7.

Boys Soccer: Hibriten at South Caldwell (Monday), West Caldwell at South Caldwell (Wednesday). The first cycle of Caldwell County games were high-scoring affairs. South Caldwell will host both rival schools this week and look for revenge against both.

Foard at North Lincoln (Monday). Both have started well and look to continue surprising starts.

Volleyball: Patton at East Burke (Monday), Patton at West Iredell (Wednesday). Patton lost to Foard, but swept Draughn, which came off an upset of West Iredell. It’s a big week for the Panthers.

Bunker Hill at East Burke (Wednesday). The Bears and Cavaliers have battled for third in the Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference the last two years. With West Iredell looking vulnerable early, one of these two could sneak into second behind Foard.

HIGH SCHOOL VARSITY SCHEDULE

Schedules listed for the four-county region (Alexander Central, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba) are taken from information provided by the athletic departments of individual schools, from information published by the schools on its websites, or on maxpreps.com. Varsity soccer and volleyball matches often follow JV contests, so times listed are approximate. Schedules are subject to change without notice. For more information on an event, contact the school.

WEEK OF SEPT. 9-14

MONDAY, SEPT. 9

GIRLS GOLF

South Fork 2A Conference at Rock Barn Golf, Conover (Newton-Conover hosts), 3:30 p.m.

BOYS SOCCER

Alexander Central at Central Cabarrus, 6 p.m.

Freedom at Chase, 6 p.m.

Hibriten at South Caldwell, 6 p.m.

Bandys at South Iredell, 6:30 p.m.

Hickory at Patton, 6:30 p.m.

McDowell at East Burke, 6:30 p.m.

Statesville at St. Stephens, 6:30 p.m.

West Caldwell at North Iredell, 6:30 p.m.

Fred T. Foard at North Lincoln, 7 p.m.

GIRLS TENNIS

Burke County Tournament at East Burke, 2 p.m.

Alexander Central at South Iredell, 4 p.m.

Hickory at University Christian, 4 p.m.

Maiden at Bunker Hill, 4 p.m.

McDowell at West Caldwell, 4 p.m.

St. Stephens at Hibriten, 4 p.m.

VOLLEYBALL

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Freedom at Watauga, 6 p.m.

Hickory at Alexander Central, 6 p.m.

St. Stephens at South Caldwell, 6 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Bunker Hill at Draughn, 6 p.m.

Hibriten at Fred T. Foard, 6 p.m.

Patton at East Burke, 6 p.m.

West Caldwell at West Iredell, 6 p.m.

TUESDAY, SEPT. 10

CROSS COUNTRY

Northwestern Foothills 2A Pre-Conference Meet, Riverbend Middle School, 4:30 p.m.

Bandys, Maiden at Printcrafters Invitational, MacAnderson Park, Statesville, 5 p.m.

GIRLS GOLF

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference at Brushy Mountain Golf Club, Taylorsville (Alexander Central hosts), 3:30 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference at Mimosa Hills Golf and Country Club. Morganton (Patton hosts), 3:30 p.m.

BOYS SOCCER

Alexander Central at Wilkes Central, 6 p.m.

Freedom at Draughn, 6 p.m.

Maiden at North Iredell, 6 p.m.

Bandys at Langtree Charter Academy, 6:30 p.m.

GIRLS TENNIS

Draughn at West Lincoln, 4 p.m.

St. Stephens at Fred T. Foard, 4 p.m.

VOLLEYBALL

South Fork 2A Conference

Bandys at Lincolnton, 6 p.m.

Lake Norman Charter at Maiden, 6 p.m.

West Lincoln at Newton-Conover, 6 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 11

CROSS COUNTRY

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Pre-Conference Meet, Southside Park, Newton, 6 p.m.

BOYS SOCCER

Chase at Freedom (Catawba River Soccer Complex), 6 p.m.

Patton at R-S Central, 6 p.m.

West Caldwell at South Caldwell, 6 p.m.

Wilkes Central at Hibriten, 6 p.m.

Hickory at East Burke, 6:30 p.m.

St. Stephens at North Iredell 6:30 pm.

GIRLS TENNIS

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Freedom at Hickory, 4 p.m.

Watauga at Alexander Central, 4 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Bunker Hill at East Burke, 4 p.m.

Fred T. Foard at West Caldwell, 4 p.m.

Hibriten at Draughn, 4 p.m.

West Iredell at Patton, 4 p.m.

VOLLEYBALL

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

McDowell at Freedom, 6 p.m.

St. Stephens at Hickory, 6 p.m.

South Caldwell at Alexander Central, 6 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Bunker Hill at East Burke, 6 p.m.

Fred T. Foard at West Caldwell, 6 p.m.

Hibriten at Draughn, 6 p.m.

Patton at West Iredell, 6 p.m.

THURSDAY, SEPT. 12

GIRLS GOLF

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference at Mimosa Hills (Freedom hosts), 2:30 p.m.

BOYS SOCCER

Bandys at Bunker Hill, 6 p.m.

Hibriten at Maiden, 6 p.m.

Fred T. Foard at Newton-Conover, 6:30 p.m.

GIRLS TENNIS

South Fork 2A Conference

Bandys at Lake Norman Charter, 4 p.m.

Newton-Conover at Maiden, 4 p.m.

Nonconference

Hibriten at Alexander Central, 4 p.m.

VOLLEYBALL

South Fork 2A Conference

Bandys at East Lincoln, 6 p.m.

Maiden at North Lincoln, 6 p.m.

Newton-Conover at Lake Norman Charter, 6 p.m.

Nonconference

Freedom at Patton, 6 p.m.

Mitchell at Hibriten, 6 p.m.

St. Stephens at Draughn, 6 p.m.

Shelby at East Burke, 6 p.m.

Statesville at Alexander Central, 6 p.m.

West Caldwell at South Caldwell, 6 p.m.

FRIDAY, SEPT. 13

FOOTBALL

Ashe County at West Caldwell, 7:30 p.m.

Bunker Hill at Bandys, 7:30 p.m.

Draughn at Cherryville, 7:30 p.m.

Freedom at Patton, 7:30 p.m.

Hickory at Hunter Huss, 7:30 p.m.

Newton-Conover at Hendersonville, 7:30 p.m.

St. Stephens at Maiden, 7:30 p.m.

South Caldwell at Hibriten, 7:30 p.m.

South Iredell at Alexander Central, 7:30 p.m.

West Lincoln at Fred T. Foard, 7:30 p.m.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

VOLLEYBALL

Hickory at South Iredell, 2 p.m.

Hickory vs. Fred T. Foard (at South Iredell), 4 p.m.

Fred T. Foard at South Iredell, 6 p.m.

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