Northwestern 2016 schedule

August: 19 South Pointe; 26 at Dorman

September: 2 South Meck; 9 at Byrnes; 16 Spartanburg; 23 at Gaffney; 30 at Fort Mill

October: 7 Open; 14 Clover; 21 at Nation Ford; 28 Rock Hill


Only the strong survive

The 21st biggest school in the state has a legitimate shot at winning a second straight state title and becoming South Carolina’s first 5A champion. Recently named new head coach David Pierce will have to steer his team through a brutal gauntlet of a schedule to get there.

The 2016 slate includes a season opener against South Pointe, road games at Dorman, Gaffney and Byrnes, as well as home contests with Spartanburg and Charlotte’s South Meck. Those six teams combined for a 64-18 record last year, with four of them reaching state semifinals in their classification; a fifth state semifinalist, Nation Ford, is part of the Trojans' region schedule.