Football Roundup: Cuthbertson, Weddington advance to second round

Weddington quarterback Whitner Litton passed for six touchdowns and ran for two more in the Warriors' win over Hickory on Nov. 10. (Photo by Ashleigh Mock)

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While talking about the upcoming Class 3AA football playoffs last week, a Southern Carolina Conference coach called Cuthbertson High the best 4-7 team in the state.

Cuthbertson may now be the best 5-7 team in the state.

Cuthbertson pulled off arguably the biggest upset in North Carolina in the first round of the Class 3AA playoffs when the No. 13 seed Cavaliers outscored No. 4 seed Alexander Central 25-7 in the second half to stun the Cougars (10-2) 35-28.

Cuthbertson, which entered the playoffs on a four-game losing streak, travels to SCC foe Sun Valley Friday, Nov. 17 for a second-round game against the No. 12 seeded Spartans.

Cuthbertson completed the comeback when quarterback Davis Walker hit Trevor Grant for a  65-yard touchdown with 1 minute, 19 seconds left in the game. Cuthbertson junior Chris Panko then sealed the victory with an interception with under a minute left in the game.

Walker finished the game 18-of-31 passing for 287 yards and two touchdowns. Grant finished with three catches for 105 yards and the one touchdown. Cavaliers junior Jayden Jennings had six catches for 100 yards.

Running back Myles Wallace rushed 25 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

“Overall, Alexander Central was 10-1 for a reason, they are a very, very good football team,” said Cuthbertson head coach David Johnson. “I thought it was a great team effort by our players. There were little things throughout the game and those little plays add up. Super team effort. That was an Alexander Central team that was averaging almost 50 points a game. Our defense did a top-notch job.”

Johnson said the turning point came on the Cougars first possession of the second half while holding a 21-10 lead. Alexander Central drove to the Cuthbertson 35 where the Cougars faced a fourth-and-1. But Cuthbertson stopped Cougars quarterback Gunnar Anderson for no gain.

“Huge, huge,” Johnson said. “It was the play of the game. They had to take out an index card to measure it and see if it (football) was touching (the marker). That is how close it was. I have never seen one that close. That was a big play.

“We were able to stick around and pull it off at the end.”

Sun Valley defeated Cuthbertson 42-13 on Oct. 20. Sun Valley defeated SCC foe Marvin Ridge 45-35 in the first round.

“That is what Southern Carolina Conference football is, when you get into the playoffs you are going to see each other again,” Johnson said. “I hated to see Marvin play Sun Valley because if Marvin had played somebody else, we would all still be alive. Sun Valley got us pretty good last time, so we have a little motivation. We just have to keep working hard.”


Weddington High is in a familiar spot — battling for the school’s fifth-straight appearance in the state quarterfinals.

Quarterback Whitner Litton passed for six touchdowns and ran for two more and freshman running back Will Shipley rushed for 119 yards as Weddington defeated Hickory 55-24 in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs Friday, Nov. 10.

Weddington (9-3), the defending Class 3AA state champions, will travel to Gastonia Hunter Huss Friday, Nov. 17 for a second-round game. The winner will most likely get Charlotte Catholic in the quarterfinals on Nov. 24.

Weddington had over 500 yards of offense and the Warriors scored 21-straight points after Hickory cut their lead to 27-17 in the third quarter. Litton threw touchdown passes to four different receivers and he now has 28 touchdown passes on the year. Litton is 176-of-305 passing for 2,841 yards this season.

“We rushed the ball really well, better than what we usually average,” said Weddington head coach Tim Carson. “The offensive line did a good job blocking for our running backs. We also had some good pass protection. Litton did an excellent job and he did a heck of a job getting the ball to our playmakers.”

Hunter Huss (8-4) defeated West Rowan 34-14 in the first round and they defeated Crest 33-30 in overtime earlier this season. Crest defeated Weddington 20-19 the fifth week of the season.

Hunter Huss will present a balanced offense and they are allowing just 18 points a game. The Huskies defense has 25 sacks and 18 interceptions on the year.

“They have some very good athletes at the skill positions,” Carson said. “They have a running back that can take it to the house anytime. Their defense is very strong and they have good athletes flying around.”

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Paul Nielsen
Nielsen was a sports writer for what is now the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for nearly 32 years before moving to North Carolina in February 2016. At the Democrat-Gazette, Nielsen's primary responsibility was beat coverage for Rogers High School. Rogers is a Class 7A school located in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen, a University of Arkansas graduate, covered the Northwest Arkansas Naturals Minor League Baseball team from 2008-2015. The Naturals are the Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
Nielsen has experience covering University of Arkansas athletics, including NCAA Tournament basketball games and several football bowl games. He also covered amateur and professional golf tournaments in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen lives in Matthews with his wife, Susan. He can be reached at