The Huddle: Toughest 4A non-conference schedules, NC players in the XFL, OL tiers

The Huddle: Toughest 4A non-conference schedules, NC players in the XFL, OL tiers

Welcome back to The Huddle!

It’s getting scary close to the start of the high school football season in North Carolina.

I am deep in the weeds of trying to finish up my returning team production stats for HSOT Insiders while also writing most of the content for our second annual HighSchoolOT Football Preview digital magazine.*

In this week’s column, I pointed out some of the 4A teams with the toughest non-conference schedules this fall, recapped how some former North Carolina high school football players did in the XFL this season, and shared my offensive line tiers for the 2024 season.

1st Down: Toughest Non-Conference Schedules for 4As in 2024

As I’m sure you’ve seen, we’ve gotten a big head start on compiling teams’ 2024 schedules. See our collection of teams from each region here:

This has given me some time to dig into the road map that faces our football programs.

Here’s a list of some of the most intense non-conference schedules for 4A schools this fall. If your favorite team’s coach has not sent in a final schedule to us, chances are I do not know who your team is playing and will not include them here. So if your favorite team’s schedule is not on that list above, get someone to send it into me!


After hosting a good 3A Tuscola program in the opening week, the Cougars make long trips to the 704 to play defending N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I state champion Providence Day and then Lake Norman, which won nine games a season ago.


The Bulldogs host what its possibly the most talented team in the state in week one: Rolesville. Then, the Bulldogs travel to Richmond, host a good South Carolina program in Irmo, and then travel to defending 4A state champion Weddington.

Cardinal Gibbons

The Crusaders start the season by traveling to play Jordan, whose stud running back Amareon Blue has given them problems previously. Then, Gibbons travels to Mallard Creek to play the 4A West power. Cardinal Gibbons’ non-conference schedule wraps up with home games against a hungry Richmond team and possibly the most talented team in the state in Rolesville.

Cox Mill

My God, Cox Mill. First, the Chargers host a loaded Charlotte Christian team in week one. Next, they play three games against 3A powers: Kings Mountain and West Charlotte at home, then on the road at defending 3A state champion Hickory. Further, Cox Mill gets to play Greater Metro 4A favorite Mooresville in its first conference contest one week after the Hickory game.


The Huskies play three of their five non-conference games against teams that won a conference last season and the remaining two against teams that finished in second place in their respective leagues. It goes like this: travel to East Forsyth to face UNC quarterback commit Bryce Baker in week one, play home games against Cleveland, Jordan, and Leesville Road, and then travel to a Hillside team that will want to get the Huskies back after Heritage won by a sizable margin last season.


The defending 4A state runner-up travels to play Cleveland in week one. Cleveland will be looking for revenge after the Vikings knocked out the Rams in last year’s state playoffs. After that, Hoggard hosts a 2A East favorite in Wallace-Rose Hill and then will travel to play J.H. Rose in Greenville.

Mallard Creek

The Mavericks are playing a 14-win team from Georgia in week one and an 11-win team from Georgia in week three. In between those, they host defending 4A East runner-up Cardinal Gibbons.

Myers Park

Locally, Chris James’ squad plays defending 4A West runner-up Independence, a Hough team that won 11 games last year, and a Sun Valley team that won eight games. Then, the Mustangs travel to Richmond, which could be poised for a bounce back season.


The defending 4A champs play defending NCISAA D1 champ Providence Day, then a solid Ardrey Kell program at home. In week three, Weddington travels to play a West Forsyth team that might be the best public school equipped to handle the Warriors’ defensive line. After that, Weddington hosts Butler, which beat the Warriors last year.

2nd Down: Former North Carolina high school football players in the XFL

A couple of weeks ago, the XFL crowned its second league champion. The San Antonio Brahmas defeated the St. Louis Battlehawks by a score of 25-15 in the championship.

The Brahmas featured two North Carolina players, which is probably why they won the championship because I don’t think the Battlehawks had any NC guys. If I’m wrong let me know at [email protected].

Anyways, High Point Central High School and Old Dominion University alum Tim Ward had a solo tackle in the championship. He finished the season with 15 tackles and two sacks for the Brahmas.

The Brahmas also had a West Forsyth High School and UNC alum on their team in defensive tackle Jalen Dalton. The 6-foot-6 defender recorded 12 tackles and two sacks this season, but didn’t have much action in the championship.

Here are the other former North Carolina high school football players that were in the XFL this season. Again, if I’m missing anyone, email me [email protected].

The Birmingham Stallions had Millbrook High School and University of Missouri alum Larry Rountree III. Heritage High School/NC State alum Ricky Person Jr. rushed for six touchdowns with the Stallions and was just signed to the Seattle Seahawks’ roster. The Stallions also had Duke University and Terry Sanford High School alum Mark Gilbert at cornerback. Gilbert had a huge season with 32 tackles and four interceptions.

Memphis’ XFL team, the Showboats, had a few NC guys as well.

Lincolnton High School alum Sage Surratt, one of the most productive athletes in NCHSAA history, had 27 receptions for 269 yards and two touchdowns at tight end for the Showboats. Chambers High School linebacker alum Anthony Butler had 25 tackles this season. He attended UNC-Charlotte and then Liberty University. Page High School and Clemson University alum Deiondre Overton has three receptions for 33 yards this season.

The D.C. Defenders employed former Pine Forest High School and University of Georgia offensive lineman Lamont Gaillard at center.

Chambers and UNC alum Myles Dorn was on the Arlington Renegades, along with former D.H. Conley High School and East Carolina quarterback Holton Ahlers. Dorn had 38 total tackles and tied for the team lead with two interceptions.

The Michigan Panthers’ roster included Independence High School and Virginia Tech alum Adonis Alexander. He had eight tackles and an interception this season.

3rd Down: Offensive Line Tiers

Here are my tiers of offensive lineman for the North Carolina high school football season in 2024. I think all of these guys are the best of the best that this state has to offer, so don’t get hung up on the grouping. I have fiyr tiers for the offensive linemen: David Sanders, Elite HS OL, Plus Starter HS OL, and Above Average HS OL.

We’re dealing with a high number of names here (because there are so many offensive lineman), so if I missed a name or two that should be obvious, reach out to me at [email protected].

David Sanders

  • David Sanders, senior, Providence Day

Elite HS Offensive Linemen

  • Trey Blue, senior, Cary
  • Sam Browder, senior, Christ School
  • Tai Buster, senior, A.L. Brown
  • PJ Dean, junior, West Forsyth
  • Leo Delaney, junior, Providence Day
  • Michael Gibbs, senior, Hoggard
  • Isaiah Locklear, senior, Scotland
  • Kiande Marsh, senior, Hough
  • Ekene Ogboko, junior, South Garner
  • Jimmy Randazzo, senior, Weddington
  • Jack Sheehan, senior, Cardinal Gibbons

Plus Starter HS Offensive Linemen

  • Nate Baker, junior, South Mecklenburg
  • Ben Boulware, junior, Oak Grove
  • Preston Broadway, junior, Metrolina Christian
  • Montgomery Edwards, senior, Marvin Ridge (transfer from Crest)
  • Cash Freeman, sophomore, Christ School
  • Miles Funderburk, junior, Providence Day
  • Braxton Grace, senior, Forest Hills
  • Bradley Haddock, senior; Bunker Hill
  • Ja’vaughn Hargett, sophomore, Southern Durham
  • Gabe Heard-Hernandez, senior, Butler
  • Nolan Irwin, senior, Northwest Cabarrus
  • Jackson Kerley, senior, Hopewell
  • Micah Martin, junior, Southeast Guilford
  • Jalen Morris, senior, West Forsyth
  • Gavin Marks, senior, Rolesville
  • John Ngandu, senior, Sanderson
  • Wyatt Parker, senior, Piedmont
  • Logan Pulley, senior, Rolesville
  • JB Shabazz, junior, East Forsyth
  • Elijah Shoe, junior, Jay M. Robinson
  • Jonathan Stokes, senior, Randleman
  • Brandon Stoner, senior, Ardrey Kell
  • Chandler Telfaire, sensior, Enloe
  • Nse Uffort, senior, Swain County
  • Nori White, sophomore, Independence

Above Average HS Offensive Linemen

  • Creston Avery, junior, Millbrook
  • Colton Ballard, senior, Hendersonville
  • Damion Barfield, senior, Triton
  • Delsin Barrett, senior, Terry Sanford
  • Zavier Barrett, senior, Gray’s Creek
  • Jaylen Bellamy, sophomore, West Columbus
  • Cooper Bowman, senior, West Iredell
  • Cardi-a Boyd, senior, T.C. Roberson
  • Christopher Britt, senior, Lumberton
  • Johnavan Brockington, sophomore, Laney
  • J.J. Brown, senior, Western Alamance
  • James Buford, senior, Hendersonville
  • Josh Burns, senior, Salisbury
  • Cal Cary, junior, North Iredell
  • Will Colombo, senior, Leesville Road
  • Rodrigo Coronado, senior, A.C. Reynolds
  • Xavier Crawford, senior, East Forsyth
  • John Coles, senior, Mount Tabor
  • Gerald Danner, senior, Maiden
  • Ny’Quaveon Davis, senior, Tarboro
  • Noah DeBruhl, senior, Topsail
  • Josiah Downing, senior, Parkland
  • Nate Earnest, senior, North Raleigh Christian
  • Malachi Elliott, senior, Harnett Central
  • Braden Ellis, senior, Northwest Guilford
  • Keith Foster, junior, West Forsyth
  • Kamahri Feamster, senior, North Rowan
  • Isaias Gonzalez, senior, Reagan
  • Ethan Graham, senior, Athens Drive
  • Landon Greene, senior, Andrews
  • Trey Grubbs, senior, East Surry
  • Ki-Lan Harrison, senior, Olympic
  • Grayson Heldreth, senior, Ashley
  • Ian Hemilright, senior, Rolesville
  • Donovan Hicks, senior, Cleveland
  • Mohammed Hosseinian, senior, Western Guilford
  • June Ivery, sophomore, East Davidson
  • Mikkail Jackson, senior, East Rutherford
  • Nick Kashubara, junior, Grimsley
  • LeLand LeQuire, senior, Swain County
  • Grady Lewis, senior, Swain County
  • Nathan Liles, senior, Mountain Island Charter
  • Jacob Mabrey, senior, Starmount
  • Graham Marsh, senior, Broughton
  • Kam McBryde, junior, Red Springs
  • A.J. McCloud, junior, West Forsyth
  • Zymeir McPhaul, senior, Seventy-First
  • Asa Midgette, senior, Rolesville
  • Jason Montero, senior, Chapel Hill
  • Braxton Montgomery, senior, North Surry
  • Jerrian Moore, senior, Walkertown
  • Aaron Mora, senior, Bunker Hill
  • Khavijae Nixon, senior, Lincolnton
  • Jamerious Pegues, senior, Cleveland
  • Christian and Chandler Powell, senior, Northeastern
  • Dynzcil Rhodes-Davis, senior, Hoggard
  • Graylon Roberson, junior, Southwest Guilford
  • Jayden Rucker, senior, Statesville
  • Tyrell Simpson, junior, North Brunswick
  • Nick Shaw, senior, New Hanover
  • J’Lynn Sheff, senior, Walkertown
  • Collin Shokes, senior, Northwest Guilford
  • Zaiden Smith, senior, Southeast Raleigh
  • Ryder Strickland, senior, Davie County
  • Dylan Thomas, senior, East Rutherford
  • Gavin Thomas, senior, Wakefield
  • Cam Toni, junior, Willow Spring
  • Jahsiyah Veasley, senior, Western Harnett
  • Yasir Wactor, senior, North Rowan
  • Noah Ware, senior, Reidsville
  • Luke White, junior, Southern Alamance
  • Chandler Williams, senior, Alexander Central
  • Michael Williams, senior, Laney
  • PJ Williams, sophomore, Scotland
  • Jayden Willis, senior, R.J. Reynolds

Quick Hits

  • Grimsley 5-star quarterback Faizon Brandon told me he wants to cut down on his interceptions. He threw three last year. Dude. You’re fine.
  • I wonder if schools in concentrated areas should consider some NFL-style scheduling to maximize gate revenue. For instance, if you’re a Wake or Mecklenburg County school and you know you have a matchup that people will be interested in, why not try to play it on Saturday night? You’ll get the folks who were interested in your game but didn’t want to abandon their favorite school on Friday night. I’m not suggesting that teams start playing every day of the week like how the NFL seems to want to. But a Saturday game every now and then wouldn’t hurt.
  • It looks like the bill to require the option to buy high school sports tickets with cash made it through the North Carolina Senate. Now it’s going back over to the House because the senators added a number of items to it and the House will have to give those things the okay. Good! Stop forcing people to pay on some app that adds in evil processing fees and is hard to figure out for some older fans. It never should’ve gotten to this point. Why are we forcing high school football fans to send part of their hard earned money through processing fees to some big corporation that we know nothing about?
  • *If you want our digital preview magazine to be a print magazine in the future, make your voice heard: [email protected] :).