Draughn (5-2, 3-0) at Bunker Hill (2-4, 1-1)
Last meeting: Bunker Hill 37, Draughn 20 (2018); Draughn leads 4-2
Last week: Draughn beat Patton 44-6; B. Hill beat Foard 16-14
Outlook: The Wildcats keep rolling along, having won five straight including three in a row in the Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference. Since the teams joined the NWFAC, they have split two matchups, but this year’s Draughn team is one victory away from doubling its win total of the last two seasons combined and reaching six wins for just the second time ever.
As it has been for over a month, the Wildcats’ dynamic offense is the story, with Braxton Cox and his receivers rewriting the school’s record book with help from the run game led by Trent Corn. The two teams share one common opponent; the Foard team the Bears defeated 14-12 last week fell to Draughn by a 55-52 margin last month.
East Burke (2-4, 1-1) at Patton (1-5, 0-2)
Last meeting: Patton 29, East Burke 7 (2018); Series tied 5-5
Last week: E. Burke lost to W. Iredell 43-20; Patton lost to Draughn 44-6
Outlook: These two teams will quite literally limp into tonight’s county and conference matchup in Morganton. Both the Cavaliers and the Panthers are really banged up right now with many players’ availability in question. For EB, that includes senior QB Seth Pruitt and classmate Brett Childers.
For the Panthers, those players are running backs Bryson Ratliff, Jackson Vance and Matt Short and junior receiver Kalen Byrd. Both teams still have their top playmakers on the field, however, in EB running back Josh Moore (130-859-16) and Patton quarterback Weston Fleming, who leads his team in rushing touchdowns with four on 87 attempts for 222 yards. The series’ 5-5 tie will be broken tonight.
Prediction: East Burke
Alexander Central (4-2, 0-1) at Freedom (4-3, 1-1)
Last meeting: Freedom 38, Alexander Central 6 (2018); Freedom leads 26-6
Last week: A. Central lost to Watauga 42-10; Freedom lost to Hickory 23-22
Outlook: Both the Patriots and Cougars stumble into tonight’s Northwestern 3A/4A Conference game off tough league losses. Alexander’s was a home blowout loss to conference powerhouse Watauga while Freedom fell in an upset to Hickory on the road.
The defeats leave both squads, which were expected to challenge the Pioneers for the NWC crown this fall, in bad shape in terms of the conference race with tonight’s loser a non-factor the rest of the way. The matchup will pit a Patriots offense that hopes to see senior QB Jayden Birchfield return from a back injury that cost him the second half against the Red Tornadoes versus Alexander’s Steven Montgomery-led rushing attack.