SPARTANBURG – The North Carolina Shrine Bowl team has a chance to do something it hasn’t been able to accomplish since 1951, and that is to win three consecutive games against their South Carolina foes. On paper, the Tarheels seem to have a clear advantage, especially on the defensive side of the football, but we all know that games are won on the field and not on paper.
Speaking of the Tarheels defense, Concord defensive lineman Rick Sandidge has really come on strong of late and exhibited his ability to completely control the line of scrimmage, almost single-handily. Throw in Mallard Creek defensive lineman Jordan Davis who came on as a replacement player and the defensive line has the chance to really make things hard and disrupt South Carolina head coach Dave Gutshall’s scheme and linebackers Dax Hollifield from Shelby and K.J. Henry from West Forsyth have a nose for the ball and are certain to create havoc for the both the passing and running attacks.
Offensively, expect D.H. Conley quarterback Holton Ahlers to shine in this contest. He has the size of a lineman but the nimbleness of a ballerina and a cannon for an arm. The Tarheel receiving corps is as talented as any I’ve ever seen in the Shrine Bowl and if Ahlers gets hot, it could be lights out for the Sandlappers.
What I expect:
I feel that if Ahlers gets hot early and has some early success, he will have a chance to pick apart the South Carolina defense and it could be game over. The wild card in the entire gameplan could be the running ability of Heritage running back Ricky Person who I feel is among the most underrated players in the entire state.
How to watch:
You can watch the game live on ESPN 3 and the Watch ESPN app and it will be rebroadcasted over the holidays on ESPN-U. Tripp Durham anchors the broadcast crew doing play-by-play and will be joined by myself and Matt Smith providing commentary.
You can also listen via the Mid-South Sports Network.