A couple years ago, Charlotte Latin football coach Larry McNulty retired. After coaching in parts of four decades, he figured it was time to let someone else do his job. Only he got home and started missing football, so McNulty came back. And this year, he said he’s having as much fun as he’s ever had.
He’s also doing one of the best coaching jobs he’s ever done.
McNulty led his team to a 14-7 upset win at Charlotte Christian Friday in the private school Division I semifinals, denying the Knights a shot at a fourth straight state title. Instead, Latin will play Davidson Day next week, trying to win its first N.C. championship since 2009.
“I’m high as a kite,” McNulty said Friday night. “We have risen from the ashes.”
Latin finished 10-2 last season, led by eight senior starters on each side of the ball. The Hawks lost 28-21 to Christian in the 2014 state finals. Despite only having three returning starters on offense and three on defense, McNulty’s troops started the season 5-0. But in Week 6, Latin was blown out 24-7 at home by Christian and then got down 26-0 the next week at Providence Day before losing 33-21. Davidson Day beat Latin after that to send the Hawks reeling on a three-game losing streak.
“We play Christian and get beat and the next week, we go to P.D. and we’re flat as pancakes,” McNulty said. “But then we said, ‘OK, we’re not that bad.’ Davidson Day beat us on a last-second field goal and then we come back and play light’s out against Country Day (a 49-14 win last week) and we go, ‘We’re OK, if we play.’”
McNulty said Latin would’ve missed the playoffs for the first time in 13 years if it didn’t beat Country Day. Now, the Hawks are one win away from a championship season that very few people would’ve seen coming.
And McNulty, who turns 69 in February, said he’ll definitely be back for the 2016 season.
“After I retired, the school was nice enough to let me come back, and I’ve had a blast ever since,” McNulty said. “Whether we win or not, it’s been a nice ride. I’m having so much fun.”
↑East Mecklenburg: beat Myers Park Friday to earn its first shutout of the season and its first season with at six wins since 2009, the last time the Eagles (6-5) made the playoffs.
↑Hickory Ridge: beat West Rowan 28-21 to earn its first-ever win over the Falcons, long a N.C. 3A power.
↑Chazz Surratt, East Lincoln: 5 passing TDs, 1 rushing in a 49-9 win over West Lincoln. In his career, Surratt now has been responsible for 221 total touchdowns in his career, breaking the N.C. mark of 216 set by former Independence High All-American QB Chris Leak.
↑Charlotte Catholic defense: Had sixth shutout in 11 games against Providence Friday. The Cougars allowed 109 total yards.
↑Butler defense: Bulldogs shut out Independence Friday, holding the Patriots without a first down until the final two minutes of the first half. Independence had 1 yard rushing in the second half and 129 yards total offense.
↑Marquise Gaddy, Winston-Salem State/Mallard Creek: Gaddy, the former Mallard Creek standout who suffered a spinal injury at Winston-Salem State’s practice in September, performed the coin toss before the Mavericks’ 35-23 win over North Meck Friday.
Friday’s top performers
Jaret Anderson, Charlotte Catholic: 17 carries for 116 yards in a 28-0 win over Providence.
Khamal Howard, East Mecklenburg: rushed 20 times for 92 yards and a score in a 24-0 win over Myers Park.
Bates Jones, Charlotte Latin: 9-for-9 for 157 yards and a touchdown pass in the second half of Friday’s 14-7 upset of Charlotte Christian. He had the game-winning 1-yard run with 57 seconds left.
Benjamin LeMay, Butler: 29 carries for 176 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-0 Southwestern 4A championship win over Independence.
Gage Moloney, Rock Hill Northwestern: ran eight times for 73 yards and completed 24-of-39 passes for 408 yards and five touchdowns in a 50-6 win over Gaffney.
Jaylen Rudisell, Hickory Ridge: 33 carries for 197 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-21 win over West Rowan.
James Smith, Mallard Creek: senior quarterback ran for two touchdowns and passed for another in a 35-23 win over North Meck.
Davidson Day 29, Providence Day 22: Providence Day took a 22-21 lead with eight minutes to go, but Davidson Day answered when Sam Hartman threw a 25-yard pass to Jake Dyer with four minutes to play. Matt Price had an interception to seal the win. Davidson Day (11-0) had three interceptions in the game. Cade Carney had 150 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
Community School of Davidson 28, Pine Lake Prep 18: Community School of Davidson (9-2, 6-0) won its sixth straight game and won the Southern Piedmont 1A conference title. Pine Lake Prep (10-1, 5-1) lost for the first time this season.
West Mecklenburg 21, Harding 6: Harding (1-10, 0-7 SoMeck 8) lost its ninth straight game. West Mecklenburg (5-6, 3-4) ended a two-game losing. The Hawks were 3-2 over their final five regular-season games.
How the Sweet 16 fared
1. Charlotte Catholic (4A)
d. Providence 28-0
2. Rock Hill Northwestern (4A)
d. Gaffney 50-6
3. Hough (4A)
d. Vance 28-27 in OT Thurs.
4. Rock Hill South Pointe (3A)
5. Mallard Creek (4A)
d. North Meck 35-23
6. Butler (4A)
d. No. 16 Independence 31-0
7. Weddington (3A)
lost 28-27 to Marvin Ridge
8. A.L. Brown (4A)
d. Hopewell 42-6
9. East Lincoln (2A)
d. W. Lincoln 49-9
10. Davidson Day (IND)
d. Providence Day 29-22
11. Concord (3A)
d. Robinson 21-0
12. Monroe (2A)
d. Forest Hills 41-8
13. South Iredell (3A)
lost 37-34 to Statesville
14. South Mecklenburg (4A)
d. Ardrey Kell 51-24
15. South Point (3A)
d. Stuart Cramer 56-0
16. Independence (4A)
lost 31-0 to No. 6 Butler