↑ Mecklenburg County football: Sending two teams to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 4A finals for the first time since 2006. Independence played in the 2006 N.C. 4AA final and West Charlotte played in the 4A final. Next week, Charlotte Catholic (4A) and Mallard Creek (4AA) will play for state titles in Winston-Salem.
↑ Vance coach Aaron Brand: With a chance to reach his first state final as a head coach, Brand went for a 2-point conversion and a win at Charlotte Catholic in the N.C. 4A semifinals. Very bold move by an up-and-coming head coach.
↓ High School overtime rules: Four downs from the 10-yard line is not a good OT format. It forces many coaches, like Brand, to gamble for a win instead of play for overtime. Make it four plays from the 20 or 25.
↑ Crest defense: Held South Point to 152 yards rushing, more than 200 fewer than the Red Raiders’ season average in a 13-7 win in the N.C. 3A Western Regional final.
Friday’s Top Performers
James Smith, Mallard Creek: Threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns; ran for 129 yards and another score in the Mavericks’ 48-41 win at Lake Norman in the N.C. 4AA semifinals. Vernon Grier had four catches for 122 yards and a score.
Chauncery Bowman, Mallard Creek: Ran for 212 yards and a score in the win over Lake Norman.
Josh Ladowski, Lake Norman: Ran for 144 yards and two scores and threw for 263 yards and four touchdowns against Mallard Creek, rallying his team from a 41-14 deficit. Dylan Galbo had six catches for 129 yards and a score.
John Walton, Charlotte Catholic: 14-of-16 passing for 213 yards and three scores in a 35-34 win over Charlotte Catholic in the N.C. 4A state semifinal. Catholic reached its seventh state final and its first since 2012 under rookie coach Mike Brodowicz.
Grayson Willingham, Weddington: Scored from 10 yards out with 24.4 seconds left to give his team a 24-21 win over Cuthbertson in the N.C. 3AA Western Regional final. Weddington will face Northern Guilford in next week’s N.C. 3AA state final. Willingham finished 12-for-21 passing for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
Austin Kendall, Cuthbertson: Junior QB, committed to Tennessee, completed 21-of-30 passes for 328 yards and three touchdowns in a 24-21 loss to Weddington in the N.C. 3AA Western Regional championship game.
Omar Baker, Vance: 17-of-21 passing for 244 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-34 loss to Charlotte Catholic in the N.C. 4A state semifinal. Donnovan Spencer rushed for 94 yards for the Cougars.
Trey Harbison, Crest: Rushed 26 times for 155 yards and a score in a 13-7 win over South Point in the N.C. 3A Western Regional championship game.
East Lincoln 31, Franklin 21, N.C. 2AA Western Regional championship: Coleton Banks had a 6-yard scoring run with 87 seconds left that sealed the state championship berth for East Lincoln (15-0) at home. East Lincoln capped the win with a 12-play, 84-yard drive. Along the way, East Lincoln converted a third and 13 at the Franklin 24 with 2 minutes, 30 seconds to play.
Earlier, Blake Strupp’s 29-yard field goal had given East a 24-21 lead with 8:21 to play.
Shelby 31, Mount Pleasant 17, N.C. 2A Western Regional championship: Shelby denied Mount Pleasant a berth in the state final for the second time – Shelby beat Mount Pleasant in 2007. Mount Pleasant (12-3) tied the game at 17 with 11:40 to play but Shelby scored twice after that to seal the win.