Alexander Central is the unanimous favorite among 15 media members to rise to the top of the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference in high school football this spring, according to a recent poll, while Freedom is projected to finish second.
The Cougars, who won the league title in the first year of the NWC’s current arrangement in 2017 before seeing Watauga win the next two crowns, tallied 105 points on their 15 first-place votes while the Patriots, runners-up either outright or by tie each of the past two years, racked up 77 points.
FHS senior wide receiver Desmond Caldwell also earned preseason player of the year consideration, tying Watauga WR/DB Seb Best for third with one vote. Alexander DL/RB Ryheem Craig led in that category with five votes and Cougars QB Lance Justice was second with two nods.
Hickory, which tied for second in the final conference standings last season, was voted to finish third with 71 points, while the two-time defending Pioneers were just behind in fourth with 69.
South Caldwell (46), the league’s 4A favorite, along with St. Stephens (31) and McDowell (20) rounded out the poll.
Northwestern 3A/4A Conference
(First-place votes in parentheses)
1. Alexander Central (15), 105 points.
2. Freedom, 77.
3. Hickory, 71.
4. Watauga, 69.
5. South Caldwell, 46.
6. St. Stephens, 31.
7. McDowell, 20.
Player of the Year: Ryheem Craig, DL/RB, Alexander Central (5 votes). Others receiving votes: Lance Justice, QB, Alexander Central (2); Seb Best, WR/DB, Watauga (1); Desmond Caldwell, WR/KR, Freedom (1).