Monroe’s Knotts named preseason Player of Year
After a monumentally agonizing wait, the high school football season kicks off this Friday, and The Enquirer-Journal has again prepared a Preseason all-Union County team.
The 2019 season was an historic one across the county, highlighted by Weddington capturing its second straight 3A state championship. Despite losing their best player, running back Will Shipley, to an early graduation this offseason, the Warriors are still the team to beat in Union County and boast a county-high 12 players across The Enquirer-Journal’s two preseason all-county teams.
Head coach Andy Capone’s team placed a county-best eight players on the all-county first team.
Leading the offense from under center is Weddington senior Dante Casciola, the county’s leading returning passer who threw for 1,571 yards and 26 touchdowns against 10 interceptions in 2019. Casciola, a Dayton signee, is joined on the first team offense by two of his offensive linemen — seniors Austin Pronk and Alex McLaughlin.
Weddington’s other two senior linemen — Nick Aderholdt and Will Owens — made the second team.
Weddington’s defense also dominated the all-county teams. On the first team defense are linemen and Joe Zovistoski and Cole Wiseman, who combined for 18 sacks and 22 tackles for loss as juniors in 2019. Three of the four defensive backs on the first team were also Warriors: seniors Bryson Parker, Jalen Newman and Landyn Backey.
Monroe junior four-star prospect Shaleak Knotts was selected The E-J’s Preseason County Player of the Year. Knotts was a first-team selection as a receiver and a second-team selection as a defensive back. Last season, Knotts was second among all county players in receiving yards (1,006) and first in receiving touchdowns (14) while intercepting six passes on defense.
Knotts is joined on the first-team offense by senior linemen Omarion and Jemarion Rushing, who are twins. On the second team, the Redhawks were represented by senior receiver Jordan Black, senior defensive linemen Mike Little and linebacker Jack Crump.
Knotts beat out Porter Ridge senior Brandon Perry for preseason player of the year honors. Perry is also a two-way star and earned preseason first-team honors as both a running back and defensive back. In 2019, Perry ran for 1,081 yards and 16 touchdowns while totaling 33 tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack and three interceptions on the defensive side of the ball.
Perry was one of three Porter Ridge players to make the all-county teams, along with first-team defensive tackle Malik Jordan (senior) and second-team kicker Braeden McCallister (junior).
Cuthbertson was one of the more well-represented teams on the preseason all-county teams after going 5-7 overall in 2019 under first-year head coach Trey Kavanaugh. Representing the Cavaliers on the first team are junior A.J. Colombo — who racked up over 1,000 all-purpose yards last season while catching 54 passes and scoring seven touchdowns — and senior offensive lineman Myles Lopez.
Leading the second team offense is Cuthbertson senior quarterback Evan Bernard. The 6-foot righty completed 131-of-207 passes last season (63.3%) for 1,599 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions. Also representing Cuthbertson’s offense on the second team are senior running back Myles Teasley, senior receiver Seth Eighmy and junior offensive lineman Trevor Tate.
A year after going 7-5 overall — their best season since 2008 — the Parkwood football team placed two players on the preseason all-county teams. Representing the Wolf Pack on the first team is junior linebacker Cody Hardy, who totaled 87 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and five sacks as a sophomore in 2019. Senior defensive lineman Austin Burns was a second-team selection after racking up 94 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and three sacks last season.
Other schools with multiple all-county selections were Marvin Ridge and Forest Hills. The Mavericks placed two players on the preseason first team — senior receiver Ethan Robitaille and senior kicker Caden Noonkester. Representing the Yellow Jackets on the second team were senior offensive lineman Jacob Mullins and senior defensive lineman Romel Wright.
Rounding out the all-county teams as Union Academy’s only preseason selection is senior running back Isaac King, who earned first-team honors.
Last season, King was second among county players in rushing yards (1,766) and rushing touchdowns (21), trailing Weddington’s Shipley in both categories.
ENQUIRER-JOURNAL PRESEASON ALL-COUNTY FOOTBALL TEAMS
Preseason Player of the Year: Shaleak Knotts, Jr., Monroe
QB: Dante Casciola, Sr., Weddington
RB: Isaac King, Sr., Union Academy
RB: Brandon Perry, Sr., Porter Ridge
WR: Shaleak Knotts, Jr., Monroe
WR: A.J. Colombo, Jr. Cuthbertson
WR/TE: Ethan Robitaille, Sr., Marvin Ridge
OL: Austin Pronk, Sr., Weddington
OL: Alex McLaughlin, Sr., Weddington
OL: Myles Lopez, Sr., Cuthbertson
OL: Omerion Rushing, Sr., Monroe
OL: Jemarion Rushing, Sr., Monroe
K/P: Caden Noonkester, Sr., Marvin Ridge
DL: Malik Jordan, Sr., Porter Ridge
DL: Joe Zovistoski, Sr., Weddington
DL: Cole Wiseman, Sr., Weddington
DL: Ty Nicholas, Sr., Piedmont
LB: Andreu Rastia, Sr., Cuthbertson
LB: Tanner Blackwell, Sr., Marvin Ridge
ROVER: Cody Hardy, Jr., Parkwood
DB: Bryson Parker, Sr., Weddington
DB: Jalen Newman, Sr., Weddington
DB: Landyn Backey, Sr., Weddington
DB: Brandon Perry, Sr., Porter Ridge
QB: Evan Bernard, Sr., Cuthbertson
RB: Kyle Parsons, Jr., Weddington
RB: Myles Teasley, Sr., Cuthbertson
WR: Seth Eighmy, Sr., Cuthbertson
WR: Jordan Black, Sr., Monroe
WR/TE: Kambridge Tuttle, Sr., Weddington
OL: Will Owens, Sr., Weddington
OL: Nick Aderholdt, Sr., Weddington
OL: Jacob Mullins, Sr., Forest Hills
OL: Trevor Tate, Jr., Cuthbertson
OL: Omarion Huntley, Sr., Monroe
K/P: Braeden McCallister, Jr., Porter Ridge
DL: Gavin Thomas, Sr., Cuthbertson
DL: Romel Wright, Sr., Forest Hills
DL: Austin Burns, Sr., Parkwood
DL: Mike Little, Sr., Monroe
LB: Connor Bradley, So., Union Academy
LB: Jack Crump, Sr., Monroe
ROVER: Kurt Petroff, Sr., Cuthbertson
DB: Thomas Stamper, Jr., Cuthbertson
DB: Makiya Evans, Sr., Weddington
DB: Shaleak Knotts, Jr., Monroe
DB: Bryce Yaggi, Sr., Marvin Ridge