It was a tough night for Mecklenburg County high school football teams Friday night.
In Greensboro, Vance High arrived to play Greensboro Page after an emotional overtime win over Butler in last week’s quarterfinal. It was hunting the first state championship berth in school history. The Cougars never had a chance, losing 49-14 in the N.C. 4AA semifinals.
In Charlotte, Charlotte Catholic struggled with turnovers and lost 21-10 to Greensboro Dudley in the N.C. 4A semifinals, ending its hopes for a third straight trip to the state championship game.
Next week, when the N.C. High School Athletic Association holds its football state championships, there will be no Mecklenburg County teams playing for the first time since 2011 and only the third time since 1999. I’m sure there are many around the state who celebrated Friday night, tired of seeing “The Great State Of Mecklenburg” dominate N.C. high school football for so long.
So what does the future look like? To sum it up, the domination won’t stop.
Butler High might have a new football coach. In fact, I’m hearing that there might be a record turnover among Mecklenburg County coaches, frustrated by a lack of pay raises, too much red tape and the possibility of S.C. jobs with much bigger salaries.
But let’s go back. Butler could hire a new coach after Brian Hales’ suspension with pay following a domestic violence incident. Butler and Vance will both graduate star quarterbacks. But both teams have deep talent pools. Mallard Creek should again be loaded, and not exactly pleased about missing a chance at a fourth straight ring. Myers Park and Ardrey Kell could be ready to take another step forward toward the limelight. Charlotte Catholic will drop from 4A to 3A, making the Cougars’ road to the championship easier, and Catholic will return the bulk of a young team that reached the school’s seventh straight regional championship this season.
In private schools, Davidson Day and Charlotte Christian could be historically good.
Bottom line? Mecklenburg football will be strong again.
▪ Three area teams reached state finals Friday and two of them returned from the ashes:
▪ Belmont’s South Point High beat Lenoir Hibriten 26-0 to advance to the N.C. 3A state final Saturday. South Point started the season 1-3, but reached its third straight N.C. 3A Western Regional final on the strength of a dominant defense that shut out four of its previous seven opponents and allowed 15 points total in that run. After Friday, make that five shutouts in eight weeks. South Point returns to the finals for the second straight season. The Red Raiders lost 24-21 to Rocky Mount last year and seek their first title since 2003.
▪ Weddington will play in its second state final in three years. The Warriors, like South Point, were once 1-3, but have reeled off 11 straight wins to reach the finals. Weddington intercepted four passes Friday in a semifinal win over Hickory Ridge.
▪ Rock Hill South Pointe rallied to beat South Aiken 55-49 in overtime, advancing to its third straight state final. The Stallions will play Hartsville in a replay of the 2014 state final. South Pointe will play for a third straight ring and the fifth in school history.