Posted On: 03/19/21 3:06 PM

It’s Week 4 of the spring football season and there are some huge games slated for Friday night. In this weekly feature, I’ll break down a couple of the key matchups and the players that could stand out.

Shelby (3-0) @ Burns (3-0)

In what could be the deciding game in the 2A Southwestern Conference, we get a matchup of rivals and undefeated teams on Friday. In my opinion, Burns and Shelby have two of the best front sevens in 2A.

For the Bulldogs, it starts with senior edge rusher  Dorien Starnes Dorien Starnes 6'1" | DL Burns | 2021 State NC The VMI commit is one of the more talented edge rushers in the state with great acceleration and impressive bend around the edge. The linebacking trio of  Azari Brown Azari Brown 6'2" | DL Burns | 2022 State NC , Silas Tate and Cahari Haynes have combined for over 100 tackles in three games and defensive end Alphonzo Goodson has chipped in with five tackles for loss.

Offensively, it all runs through quarterback Cam’Ron Sweezey. He’s not flashy, but he takes care of the ball and commands the offense as well as anyone in the state. He’s second on the team in rushing and leads the team with five scores on the ground. Running back Lemont Wilson has eclipsed 120 yards in each of his last two games. Burns doesn’t have many superstars. Instead, the Bulldogs win with a balanced offense and a defense that is difficult to scheme against.

Shelby comes in with more firepower on paper, boasting two of the top seven defenders in our 2022 rankings. Linebacker  Malaki Hamrick Malaki Hamrick 6'2" | DL Shelby | 2022 State NC  and defensive tackle  Santana Hopper Santana Hopper 6'3" | DL Shelby | 2022 State NC  have already made life difficult for opposing offenses. Underclassmen like sophomore Ta’Darrin Griffin Ta’Darrin Griffin 6'2" | LB Shelby | 2023 NC  and freshman  Jaden Pierce Jaden Pierce 6'2" | DL Shelby | 2024 NC  have stepped up nicely to alleviate some of the pressure.

Offensively, the Golden Lions take care of the ball and senior running back Omar Phillips has been dynamic, rushing for over 100 yards in each game so far.

It’s a game between two well-coached teams that take care of the ball and play great defense. The winner is likely the one that makes fewer mistakes.

Cardinal Gibbons (2-0) @ Millbrook (3-0)

This is an interesting matchup between two up-and-coming teams off to great starts this season.

Two of my favorite players in the state are going head to head as Millbrook receiver  Wesley Grimes Wesley Grimes 6'3" | WR Millbrook | 2022 NC  squares off against Cardinal Gibbons quarterback  Connor Clark Connor Clark 6'6" | QB Cardinal Gibbons | 2023 NC .

In his first season as a varsity starter, Clark has been impressive, committing only one turnover and completing over 74 percent of his passes. He’s the prototypical pocket passer, with a great throwing motion and strong arm. Cardinal Gibbons likely needs him to have a huge game tonight, especially with Millbrook’s offense firing on all cylinders like it has recently.

His favorite target is senior Brock Biestek, a versatile athlete averaging over 10 yards a touch this year while leading the team in both rushing and receiving. Watch out for senior Jackson Federman in this one as he could be an x-factor for Cardinal Gibbons

Grimes has a lot to do with Millbrook’s offensive success, scoring three times last week against Leesville Road and succeeding both as a deep option and in the screen game. Caleb Stephens Caleb Stephens 5'7" | WR Millbrook | 2021 NC  adds another weapon to the Wildcat offense and chips in as a defensive back as well.

This one could come down to which defense can get pressure on the quarterback. Cardinal Gibbons defensive lineman John Caramanico has been productive this year. A big game from him will be key if the Crusaders are to avenge their 2019 loss to Millbrook.