By Pete Zamplas
T.C. Roberson Rams in soccer were unbeaten in Western Mountain Athletic Conference play, and went (ddd) rounds in 3A playoffs to advance the school in the Wells Fargo Cup ranking.
The statewide competition rates each school within its conference and also the state, for how many rounds it advances in each team sport. WMAC schools are mostly strong across several sports, in each of the three seasons. Schools are into winter sports now.
Roberson turned in an impressive third-place finish in the conference in football under head coach Jason Dinwiddie, and hosted a 3AA playoff game. But the Rams dropped a 56-50 barnburner to Kannapolis A.L. Brown, in round one.
On the gridiron, Reynolds under Coach Shane Laws advanced the furthest among WMAC teams. The Rockets reached round three, where they fell 17-10 at home to Kings Mountain.
In boys’ soccer, Coach Josh Martin’s Rams finished 19-3 overall and 15-1 in the WMAC. They advanced to round two, after blasting Montgomery Central 7-0. The Rams led 2-0 at halftime, then burst the game open with five goals in the second half while preserving the shutout.
Zac Weas, a senior striker, and sophomore Coulson Dunning each scored a pair of goals. Weas led TCR with 27 goals this fall.
TCR’s other scorers in the game were senior Rhett Soule, junior Erik Chimalpopoca, and freshman midfielder Dorian Sepulueda.
Jeff Whitenack, a senior midfielder, scored TCR’s goal in the finale at Statesville. The host Greyhounds ended TCR’s season, with a close 2-1 win. SHS led 1-0 at intermission, then each side scored a goal in the second half.
Weas notched hat tricks in the opener against Crest then in successive WMAC wins in September, over North Buncombe then Erwin. He scored two goals in each of six other wins, including the playoff opener. Seven of Weas’ 27 goals were game winners.
Sophomore midfielder Brady Buckner was next, with 22 goals including six game winners. He scored two goals in each of eight games. Soule scored 16 times, and Josh Gerold ten.
Goalkeeper Jonah Nus had eight shutouts. He is among ten seniors, on the 23-player varsity roster. Several underclassmen contributed well, and will lead the program next season.
The Rams swept every WMAC rival, until dropping the regular-season finale 3-2 at second-place Reynolds.
TCR’s biggest scoring barrages this fall were in victories of 10-1 over Erwin; 9-0 versus North Henderson, Crest and also Polk County; and 7-0 against
Tuscola as well as that playoff opener.
Reynolds was 20-4 overall and s 14-2 in the WMAC under Coach Patrick Gladys, won ten in a row, and won two playoff games before falling 4-1 at Concord in round three. That was after shutting out Parkwood 2-0, then Central Cabarrus 1-0. Leading Rocket scorers included junior forward Asa Blake and senior co-captain Luke Sloan.
Asheville under Mike Flowe went 12-4 and 17-6-1. The Cougars dropped a 1-0 nail-biter to Parkland, in a 3A opener. Striker Justin Fleer scored 24 goals, and fellow seniors Isaac Tuch 15 and Gage Spiegel ten for Asheville. Senior goalkeepers Max Butterworth (with eight) and Grayson Hackett (seven) combined for 15 shutouts.
Enka with Jason McGill as head coach was 10-6 in the WMAC, and 14-10 overall. The Jets fell 7-1 at Hickory in round one.
Two teams were below .500 in the elite WMAC, yet still also made 3A playoffs. Erwin was fifth at 6-10, under Coach Tate MacQueen. The Warriors’ 10-13-1 overall mark got them a first-round trip to South Iredell, where they lost 9-0. Sixth-place Tuscola (5-11; 10-12-1) and Coach Ian Meeks lost 6-1 at Charlotte Catholic.
West and North Henderson were each 4-12 in the WMAC, and North Buncombe 2-14.
Roberson scored the most goals among WMAC schools and had the widest average margin of victory of four goals. The average Ram score was a win by 4.9 to 0.73. ACR averaged 3.08-1.17, AHS 3.38 to 0.67, and Enka 2.67-2.04.