Super Bowl 50 picks

Published 5:27 pm Saturday, February 6, 2016

Who will win Super Bowl 50? The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos will be seeking to answer that question starting at 6:30 p.m. Sunday evening at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

But before they do, Suffolk’s football stars and coaches gave their take on who will be lifting up the Vince Lombardi Trophy amid a sea of confetti when the big game has concluded.

Nansemond River High School coach David Coccoli said he will go with Carolina as the winner because of “the explosiveness they have on offense with Cam Newton.”



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Newton, the Panthers’ fifth-year quarterback, is enjoying an MVP-caliber season.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy senior linebacker Cole Christiansen said he is definitely picking Carolina to win.

“I know a lot of people don’t really like Cam Newton, they think he’s cocky and stuff, but I’ve always liked him since he played at Auburn (University),” Christiansen said. “I like that he has fun when he plays, and because of him, I’m rooting for Carolina.”

The Broncos’ Peyton Manning, though having his worst year statistically in his 17th season, is widely considered to be one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game and has shown savvy in recent outings in the face of his physical limitations at age 39. But Christiansen sees Newton as possibly winning the leadership duel.

“He’s going to motivate his team to win, maybe more so than Peyton will,” Christiansen said.

Lakeland High School senior linebacker Monte Hillard said, “I think the Panthers are going to win because Cam Newton is playing ball right now.”

“Denver does have a good defense, but I think Cam, he’s going to go make some plays like he does every game,” Hillard said. “He’s going to make some plays on that defense.”

Nansemond River senior offensive lineman Jarrett Hopple said, “I think Denver’s going to win just because I’m biased, but I think if they get their defense right, they could stop Carolina’s offense.”



He noted that the Broncos “just need to contain Cam Newton and lock up their receivers.”

Lakeland junior wide receiver/running back Alajuwun Langston said he thinks Carolina will win.

“Cam Newton, man, he’s just having a great season,” Langston said. “He’s changing the game for all type of athletes, like you don’t got to be a certain way or play a certain way for you to win in the NFL now. You can be yourself.”

King’s Fork High School senior defensive lineman Cullen Marshall said, “My pick is the Carolina Panthers and because I believe Cam Newton is amazing, and that’s my favorite player in the league.”

He said Newton has gained this favorite status because of the way he carries himself with confidence and the way he performs as a 6-foot-5-inch, 245-pound quarterback that is fast.

Nansemond River senior defensive end Demetrius Stitmon analyzed the big game in a variety of ways.

“I feel like the Panthers are going to win the game,” he said. “I say that because they’ve been very consistent with their offense, their offense has been putting up a lot of points, and their defense has definitely been shutting down the other team’s offense.”

But he added that Carolina will be going up against a big defensive competitor.



“They did really good last game against the Patriots,” he said, noting they hit New England quarterback Tom Brady 20 times, more times than any quarterback has been hit all year. But Stitmon also highlighted Newton’s elusiveness.

“It’s a good matchup,” Stitmon said. “You’ve got a quarterback that’s been in the game for a long time and that really knows the game like the back of his hand. You have another quarterback (who is) getting there, he’s getting good, he’s had a really good season.”

King’s Fork senior feature back Deshaun Wethington said, “I’m going to have to go with the Panthers, because right now they’re on a tear. They’re going crazy on teams. They’re coming out of the gate, and they’re finishing strong.”

He said he does not expect Denver to get run over, “but I just feel like the Panthers can pull it off.”

However, if Manning were to close out his career with a Super Bowl win, Wethington said, “that would be something nice to see. If he could do that, I would hope for that to happen.”

Nansemond-Suffolk coach Lew Johnston’s head and heart are not aligned when it comes to his pick.

“My head tells me Carolina in a close one, but I’m going to be rooting for Peyton,” Johnston said. “I’ve always liked him.”

Explaining his pick, Johnston said, “Denver statistically has the best defense in the league, so defense wins championships. I just don’t think they have run into anybody like Cam Newton.”



Lakeland coach Kevin Knight said his pick to win is the Carolina Panthers.

“Defense wins championships, and Carolina has one of the top scoring defenses in the league,” Knight stated.

NSA senior running back Noah Giles said, “I think that the Broncos will win the game, mostly because of Peyton Manning. This is probably going to be his last year, and his team’s just going to rally around him.”

Giles noted that just like Nansemond-Suffolk rallied around retiring Coach Johnston to bring him his first state title because they knew it would be his last chance, he expects Denver to play “a little bit harder, and I think they’re going to come out with a win.”

King’s Fork coach Joe Jones said, “I’m a big Peyton Manning fan, and I would love to see him go out with a ring and retire like Jerome Bettis did, but I really like the Carolina Panthers. So I’m rooting for the Panthers to win, and I believe they will win, but I’d like to see Peyton throw for about 400 yards and five touchdowns and Carolina win like 42-41 or something.”