Sarah Lingle

Fred T. Foard's Sarah Lingle (14) attempts a set in this file photo.

It’s a full week of high school action in the area with a wide open slate of games that have conference and state playoff implications. There was no way to pick just five events, so I went with six, plus key contests listed within the heading of those individual sports.

1) Watauga at Fred T. Foard volleyball (Thursday)

This nonconference match is not only the top event in the area, but arguably the top volleyball match in the state this week. Foard is 19-0 and was ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 2A in last Monday’s MaxPreps.com rankings. Watauga enters the week at 18-0 and was ranked third in the state in Class 3A. The Pioneers have won 45 regular season matches in a row, including a win over Foard last year — one of three suffered by Foard a season ago. Watauga has won five straight against the Tigers since 2015.

Other volleyball matches to watch:

Maiden at East Lincoln (Thursday): Ranked fourth in 2A last week, Maiden will drop after a road loss at Lake Norman Charter. The Blue Devils rallied from two sets down to defeat East Lincoln (ranked No. 10) last month. Both teams have trap games on Tuesday — East Lincoln is at Bandys and Maiden hosts North Lincoln — but should both survive, a win by Maiden would about wrap up the South Fork 2A title. A win by East Lincoln would create a tie and set up a likely scenario in which the conference tournament winner would get the league’s top state tournament bid.

Hickory at St. Stephens (Tonight): At 7-1, Hickory could put a solid hold on the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference’s second automatic 3A bid with a win. St. Stephens (6-3 NWC) had played better of late and a win for the Indians could put them in a position to catch Hickory, which still has a match left with unbeaten Watauga.

Foard at Draughn (Wednesday): A possible trap game for the Tigers a day before they play Watauga. Draughn has played top-notch opponents tough, including at win over West Iredell.

2) East Lincoln at Newton-Conover boys soccer (Tonight):

Two weeks ago, MaxPreps had this as a 1 vs. 2 matchup in its computers. East Lincoln is still the state’s top-ranked 2A school with Newton-Conover slotting in at fourth. No matter what MaxPreps comes out with today, it’s still a match that will have conference and state implications.

Newton-Conover (11-1-1 overall, 6-0 South Fork 2A) is 14-0-1 against East Lincoln since 2011, which included a 4-3 shootout win in the regular season finale last October that gave the Red Devils the conference title. That win set Newton-Conover with a stretch of home matches in the playoffs en route to a second straight 2A state final appearance.

East Lincoln (14-0, 6-0) nearly met Newton-Conover a third time last year, but a late goal by host Salisbury in the state quarterfinals ruined an all-South Fork West Regional. The Mustangs have scored 88 goals while Newton-Conover has given up just 12.

Other soccer matches to watch:

Newton-Conover at Lincolnton (Wednesday): Whatever happens tonight, this is a dangerous match for the Red Devils. Newton-Conover is unbeaten in 14 straight against the Wolves, but five of the last six wins have been by a margin of one goal or via a shootout, including a 2-1 win earlier this season.

Watauga at South Caldwell (Wednesday): These two teams enter the week tied in the loss column for the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference lead. Watauga (5-1) and the Spartans (4-1) split the two meetings a year ago.

Hickory at St. Stephens (Tonight): At this time last week, these two schools looked to be on track for a meeting with first place on the line. However, the Indians lost both Northwestern 3A/4A matches last week and Hickory lost to South Caldwell for the first time in recent memory. Now at 3-2 along with Alexander Central in third, the winner will stay in contention for a conference title or at least one of the two automatic bids for the league. A loss will put a conference title chance on the brink of being done.

Fred T. Foard at West Caldwell (Tonight): Foard suffered its first Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference loss at Hibriten in a shootout last Wednesday. The Tigers now go to West Caldwell to break a tie for second as both teams are 5-1 in league play, with the loss for each coming to Hibriten last week.

3) United Way Invitational Cross Country (Wednesday):

Outside of regional and state competitions, this meet held at Southside Park in Newton is among the most competitive races in the western region. Seventeen of the 38 high schools registered for the event are from the three local conferences. According to MileSplit.com, 897 racers are registered to compete in races throughout the afternoon.

An open mixed-gender race will start the afternoon at 2:40 p.m. before invitational races for the boys and girls are scheduled for 3:20 and 4 p.m. The boys championship race goes off at 4:40 p.m. with the girls to follow.

Top area returners from the championship races in 2018 are Hickory’s Chase Johnson who was was 10th among the boys, and Riley Carswell of Freedom, who was fourth.

Last year’s 2A West champions, Karina Coulter of Fred T. Foard and Lincolnton’s Daniel Hopkins are expected to compete.

4) Hickory at Watauga football (Friday):

It is not a surprise that defending Northwestern 3A/4A Conference champion Watauga is among the only two teams to start the conference season at 2-0. It is a surprise that Hickory, which started 0-5, is the other one. But a dominant first half against Freedom — itself seen to be a contender — put the Red Tornadoes in this position. After beating the Patriots for the first time since 2009, Hickory is looking to pull off a similar task against the Pioneers, who have won five in a row against their conference foe.

After giving up 30 or more points in their five losses, the Hickory defense has cut that to 36 over the last two games. But that unit will be going up against a team in Watauga (6-1 overall) that has 35 or more in all seven games.

Hickory did come out of Friday’s game banged up and the team is waiting to see if quarterback Jason Martin will be back after leaving with a shoulder injury. The Red Tornadoes will have a tough game on the road, but a win here would make the conference race an interesting one down the stretch.

Other football games to watch (all games are Friday):

Alexander Central at Freedom: After losses last week, both teams are looking to stay in the Northwestern 3A/4A race. Alexander Central lost at home to Watauga, while Freedom still has the Pioneers on the slate down the stretch.

South Caldwell at McDowell: The winner of this game likely gets the Northwestern Conference's 4A automatic bid. The loser is likely home for the postseason.

Draughn at Bunker Hill: Now with five wins in a row, Draughn (5-2 overall, 3-0 Northwestern Foothills 2A) is one win away from a dream game at their stadium against Hibriten with first place on the line in the Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference. However, as Bandys found out, Bunker Hill (2-4, 1-1) is not a pushover. With Hibriten already off the Bears' plate for the year, a win during homecoming night suddenly puts Bunker Hill in the driver’s seat for the league’s second automatic bid.

West Lincoln at Newton-Conover: This is a key game for both teams in the South Fork 2A Conference. For West Lincoln (5-1 overall, 1-1 South Fork), it’s a chance to stay in the conference race with three teams already at 2-0 in the seven-game conference season. For the Red Devils (4-2, 2-0), a win sets up an interesting two weeks to follow. Should Newton-Conover defeat the Rebels Friday, they’ll play the next week at Lake Norman Charter, which has not won a South Fork Conference game in three seasons.

Should the Red Devils win the next two weeks, they’ll welcome in current conference unbeaten and last year’s runner-up North Lincoln and former coach Nick Bazzle, who led the program to a state title in 2008. It will be the first visit by Bazzle to Gurley Stadium as a visiting coach.

5) Girls Tennis Conference Tournaments:

With the dual team regular season completed, the focus this week is determining berths for regional play in singles and doubles. All three conferences will host conference tournaments this week to determine those bids. Unlike the team format, in individual competition, players can only compete in singles or doubles

Here is a brief look at all three tournaments.

Northwestern 3A/4A

The 3A and 4A schools hold separate tournaments to determine the players to advance. Among the 3As to be held today and Tuesday at Hickory, four singles players and four doubles teams will move on to the 3A West Regional to be held at St. Stephens Oct. 18-19. As announced by the conference on Friday, the top two singles seeds for the 3As are Jadyn Kadyk (8-0) of Watauga and Nicole Kozischek (8-3) of Hickory. In doubles, Blaikley Crooks and Savannah Vandergriff (4-3) of Freedom are the top seed with Emma and Hannah Maltba (5-8) slotted in second.

South Caldwell will host McDowell Tuesday to determine the two singles and doubles entrants for the 4A regional, to be held at Ardrey Kell in Charlotte. The seedings have not been released yet. The top player by record is South Caldwell’s Taylor Austin, who is 7-0 as the Spartans' No. 2 singles player.

Northwestern Foothills 2A

Bunker Hill will host the conference tournament starting Tuesday to determine the five singles and doubles berths for the 2A West Regionals held at Shelby High. A seeding meeting will be held prior to the tournament on Tuesday. The top singles players in the conference include Fred T. Foard’s Alexis Wolgemuth, who is 14-0 at No. 1 singles. Along with Emily Campbell, Wolgemuth won the 2A state doubles championship last year. Tigers teammate Claire Boger is 13-1 at No. 2 singles. Other players to watch include Draughn’s Haley Kincaid (9-2 No. 1 singles) and Abby Parker (10-1 No. 2 singles)

South Fork 2A

Maiden will host the South Fork tourney to decide the conference’s four singles and doubles berths to move on to Lincolnton. The seeding meeting will take place Tuesday prior to the start of the tournament. Bandys' Toni Laney (8-0), who won a doubles title in 2016 with Zoe Huffman while attending Maiden, advanced to the second round of the 2A state singles tournament last year. Others to watch include Newton-Conover freshman Alexa Allison (10-1 No. 1 singles) and Maiden's Gracie Arrowood (8-4 No. 1 singles) and Hannah Sherrill (12-0 No. 2 singles).

6) Northwestern Foothills 2A Girls Golf

Heading into the final two rounds of the regular season, Hibriten leads Patton by two strokes. Hibriten will have the home course advantage this week as the Panthers will host the conference on Tuesday at Cedar Rock. Draughn sits 18 strokes back and will need a good week to stay in the chase. If the Wildcats can stay close, the final round of the season is at their home course at Silver Creek in Morganton the following Tuesday. The conference champion will advance to the 1A/2A West Regional in Newland on Oct. 21.

 

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 OCT. 7-14

MONDAY, OCT. 7

GIRLS TENNIS

Northwest 3A/4A Conference Tournament (3A schools), Hickory, 2 p.m.

BOYS SOCCER

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Alexander Central at South Caldwell, 6 p.m.

Freedom at McDowell, 6 p.m.

Hickory at St. Stephens, 6 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Hibriten at Draughn, 6 p.m.

Bunker Hill at East Burke. 6:30 p.m.

Fred T. Foard at West Caldwell, 6:30 p.m.

Patton at West Iredell, 6:30 p.m.

South Fork 2A Conference

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

North Lincoln at Bandys, 6 p.m.

Maiden at Lincolnton, 6:30 p.m.

VOLLEYBALL

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Alexander Central at South Caldwell, 6 p.m.

Freedom at McDowell, 6 p.m.

Hickory at St. Stephens, 6 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Draughn at Hibriten, 6 p.m.

East Burke at Bunker Hill, 6 p.m.

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

West Iredell at Patton, 6 p.m.

TUESDAY, OCT. 8

GIRLS TENNIS

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference Tournament, Bunker Hill, 1 p.m.

South Fork 2A Conference Tournament, Maiden, 1:30 p.m.

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament (3A schools), Hickory, 2 p.m.

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament (4A schools), South Caldwell, 2 p.m.

GIRLS GOLF

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference at Silver Creek, Morganton (Freedom hosts), 3:30 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference at Cedar Rock, Lenoir (Hibriten hosts), 3:30 p.m.

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

VOLLEYBALL

South Fork 2A Conference

East Lincoln at Bandys, 6 p.m.

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

North Lincoln at Maiden, 6 p.m.

Nonconference

Alexander Central at Statesville, 6 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 9

GIRLS TENNIS

South Fork 2A Conference Tournament, Maiden, noon

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference Tournament, Bunker Hill, 3 p.m.

CROSS COUNTRY

United Way Invitational at Southside Park, Newton, Invitational Races, 3:20/4 p.m. Championship Races 4:40/ 5:20 p.m.

BOYS SOCCER

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Freedom at St. Stephens, 6 p.m.

McDowell at Hickory, 6 p.m.

Watauga at South Caldwell, 6 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Bunker Hill at West Iredell, 6 p.m.

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

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

Patton at West Caldwell, 6 p.m.

South Fork 2A Conference

Maiden at Bandys, 6 p.m.

Newton-Conover at Lincolnton, 6:30 p.m.

VOLLEYBALL

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Freedom at St. Stephens, 6 p.m.

McDowell at Hickory, 6 p.m.

Watauga at South Caldwell, 6 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Bunker Hill at West Iredell, 6 p.m.

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

Hibriten at East Burke, 6 p.m.

Patton at West Caldwell, 6 p.m.

Nonconference

North Iredell at Alexander Central, 6 p.m.

THURSDAY, OCT. 10

BOYS SOCCER

Nonconference

Bandys at Fred T. Foard, 6:30 p.m.

VOLLEYBALL

South Fork 2A Conference

Bandys at West Lincoln, 6 p.m.

Maiden at East Lincoln, 6 p.m.

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

Nonconference

Alexander Central at East Burke, 6 p.m.

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

Patton at Freedom, 6 p.m.

West Iredell at St. Stephens, 6 p.m.

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

FRIDAY, OCT. 11

FOOTBALL

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Alexander Central at Freedom, 7:30 p.m.

Hickory at Watauga, 7:30 p.m.

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

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

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

East Burke at Patton, 7:30 p.m.

Fred T. Foard at Hibriten, 7:30 p.m.

West Caldwell at West Iredell, 7:30 p.m.

South Fork 2A Conference

Bandys at Lincolnton, 7:30 p.m.

Lake Norman Charter at Maiden, 7:30 p.m.

West Lincoln at Newton-Conover, 7:30 p.m.

Nonconference

St. Stephens at North Iredell, 7:30 p.m.

SATURDAY, OCT. 12

CROSS COUNTRY

Alexander Central at NC Elite Runners Invitational, Ivey Redmon Complex, Kernersville, 9 a.m.

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