Until Friday night, West Mecklenburg hadnt been to the playoffs since 2008, when it fell 41-18 to Independence.
Until Friday night, West Mecklenburg hadnt won a playoff game since 1989, when it beat Greensboro Dudley 24-8.
On Friday night, the Hawks whipped Hough 45-10, providing one of the most shocking first-round results of the playoffs. Hough, which had won nine of its past 10 games, suffered its worst loss of the season. To put it in perspective, N.C. 4A powers Mallard Creek (28-3 over Hough) and Independence (31-14) didnt handle the Huskies the way West Meck did.
It was a program-changing and program-defining win in whats been a program-changing and program-defining season for the Hawks and third-year coach Jeff Caldwell. Caldwells first team was 2-9. The year before he started, in 2009, West Meck was 1-10.
The growth, though, has been steady. Caldwells second team was 4-7, and knowing he was returning 12 starters from that team, including 6-foot-4 QB Jalan McClendon, Caldwell thought this years Hawks could do some special things.
Friday night, West Meck got that first playoff win in 23 years and it also posted its ninth win of the season. No Hawks team had won that many since 1988.
The win, however, came with a price. McClendon was apparently ejected after doing Cam Newtons famous Superman TD celebration move in the end zone. Thats generally considered taunting and if its ruled as such, it would bring about a two-game suspension.
Butler All-American Uriah LeMay sat out his teams first-round win over West Forsyth for a taunting ejection he received the week before against Independence. LeMay wasnt needed against West Forsyth, but Butler will need him next week against Independence. He wont be able to play. West Meck will certainly need McClendon next week against Olympic. McClendon might not be able to play, either.
• High school athletes watch the pros every Sunday celebrate tackles and first downs the way touchdowns used to be celebrated. The kids want to do the same thing. Ive always said the N.C. High School Athletic Association should allow kids to point to God or to spike the ball, so long as they are not spiking it in the direction of an opponent. Theres a natural inclination to celebrate scoring.
I dont advocate doing anything to show up the other team. But until theres a rule change, high school athletes need to save the celebration for the sidelines, when they can run over and do a little jig in front of the crowd and not get flagged for it.
These stars are hurting their teams. I dont think LeMay pointing with a football or McLendon pulling an imaginary shirt apart warrants a two-game suspension, particularly during the playoffs a 15-yard penalty is more appropriate with maybe a second offense warranting the ejection but the rules are there and the kids need to follow them.
• Not sure if Im watching the Mecklenburg County conference tournaments or the playoffs. In Round 2, we get I-Meck rivals Vance and Mallard Creek playing. We get ME-GA 7 rivals West Meck and Olympic, and at Memorial Stadium we get a replay of the Southwestern 4A championship game between Independence and Butler.
• Best evidence for reducing the 1A playoffs. Friday there were 32 games. Seventeen were decided by 30 or more points. Only six were relatively close. Solution? Invite fewer teams to the dance, shorten the playoffs by one week in 1A.