KANNAPOLIS, NC – Filling big holes is almost always something teams have to face entering the season. That’s exactly what the AL Brown Wonders and Concord Spiders face in the annual “Battle for the Bell” on Friday, August 23. The season-opening game between these North Carolina rivals expects upwards of 8,000 fans and will also begin the 2013 Great American Rivalry series presented by the U.S. Marine Corps and Hibbett Sports.
The Spiders finished 13-3 last season, riding the arm of four-year starting quarterback B.J. Beecher all the way to a 3-A state championship game berth where they lost to Havelock 55-21. Well, Beecher is gone, now playing at East Carolina after throwing for over 4,100 yards and 50 touchdowns last season.
Also gone from Glen Padgett’s team are its top three receivers, all of whom had at least 700 yards and eight touchdowns led by Alex Asbury’s 1,479 yards and 15 touchdowns.
So Concord will have to rely on its running game this season as the top two rushers return in juniors Rocky Reid and Terry Cassel. Reid ran for 1,590 yards and 14 TDs, while Cassel added 625 yards and 12 TDs. They both also had over 200 receiving yards.
The Wonders, on the other hand, lost most of their running game after finishing 10-4 last season with a 49-18 loss to Charlotte Catholic in the 3-AA quarterfinals. Gone are five players who rushed for at least 300 yards led by 1,000-yard backs Kalif Phillips (1,838 yards and 25 TDs) and Ricky Sherrill (1,087 yards and 18 TDs).
So Mike Newsome’s team will have to rely on the arm of senior quarterback Andrew Ramirez, who threw for 1,051 yards and eight touchdowns, and wide receiver Johnny Delahoussaey, who had 236 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
The game renews the rivalry named the “Battle of the Bell” with the trophy being an old southern railways bell that’s painted in the winning school’s colors each year. Concord won last season’s meeting 21-14 to take a slight 40-37-4 edge in the all-time series.