**********Teams That will Give the Wonders the Most Challenge in 2017********
Looking over the strength of schedule for the Wonders this season, I can't help but see how difficult the terrain is for the Wonders during the non conference schedule to begin the 2017 campaign. This is how FIK sees the competition rounding out for 2017. To me the non conference schedule is as much, if not more difficult than most of the SPC schedule combined, and that's not said to slight any of the other teams of the SPC. Looking at it objectively though, pound for pound, 4A Davie County, 4A Mooresville, 3A Marvin Ridge are some of the best competition outside the MECKA 4A the Wonders have played since the Late Ron Massey began scheduling South Point, and Eastern Randolph for his non conference opponents. Marvin Ridge defeated J.M. Robinson last year in the 2nd round to advance to the District Championship game. Mooresville who has long been a traditional rival for Kannapolis since the golden age of Wonder football defeated the Wonders last year in the Devil's Den in the Patriotism Bowl, while Davie County defeated the Wonders in the 2nd round of the 4A playoffs last year at Davie. The War Eagles who use to be a big contest for the Wonders in their former CPC 4A years in the late eighties now have the chance to become a pretty good rivalry of sorts if they get their chance. I would like to see them as a mainstay on the Wonders calendar year in and year out. Jesse Carson High will be an interesting new contest for the Wonders with former A. L. Brown state championship winning QB William Craft coaching the QBs up in China Grove.
I like coach Newsome's approach to the non conference schedule this season. Like coach Massey did during his tenure, the teams the Wonders will play in the non conference will prep them for the meat of the SPC schedule when they face off with the top teams of the conference. Hands down, and I don't think anyone will disagree that coming into the 2017 season, the J.M. Robinson Bulldogs will be the team to beat. They are the current defending SPC Champion, and they now have a taste for success. The only marquee team the Bulldogs haven't beaten in their program's existence is Kannapolis, and I'm sure we are circled on their calendar as one of their marquee contests. Last year they defeated Concord for the SPC title, and came within just a few seconds, and one big play from upsetting 4A A.L. Brown last year in Concord. That is one scary program down there in Concord now, and with the addition of former Little Wonder standout Tim Davis to the Bulldog coaching staff for 2017, they just got scarier.
Concord will be tough simply on the mere fact that it is our biggest rivalry, and as always you can throw the record books out the window as most of us who are familiar with this contest already know. West Rowan has had a lot of success over the years down in Mt Ulla during the Scott Young era, and have defeated the Wonders once since the series began back in 1965. Central Cabarrus will be in their first year with former Spider Kenneth McClamrock at the helm, and nobody knows Wonders like Spiders do. There will be a personal interest in this game by McClamrock, just as there is with Marty Paxton. I don't see immediate domination by the Vikings this season, but in the post Donnie Kiefer era, it's not going to be long before the Vikings start scaring people as well. I think you are going to see a shift in power in that part of Cabarrus County over the next few years, which historically has been dominated by CHS. Northwest Cabarrus I think will be a much improved team under second year head coach Brandon Gentry, but there is still a ways to go before you can start considering the Trojans as a viable contender.
Rounding out the competition are Cox Mill and Hopewell, who unfortunately have been bringing up the rear of the pack over the last two to three years. I think you will see improvement there as well, but like Northwest Cabarrus, these teams are going to be cutting their teeth over the next several seasons until they get some continuity going in the coaching arena. All in all, this should be an interesting season for the Wonders as the season is set to begin in just a few short weeks. It will be nice getting back to some traditional matchups that folks are excited about seeing, and with the Wonders having been seasoned in 4A play over the last four years in the MECKA, I think you will see each opponent bringing their A games when they gear up to play the Wonders this season. 2017 will be fun, and I can promise you it will be no cake walk!!
*************************************************Strength of Schedule**************************************************
01. J.M. Robinson
02. Marvin Ridge
04. Davie County
06. West Rowan
07. Central Cabarrus
09. Northwest Cabarrus
10. Cox Mill