When coach Tom Knotts left Independence High for Dutch Fork (S.C.) in 2008 and Mike Newsome left Butler for A.L. Brown in 2010, it felt like a golden era of Mecklenburg County football was over.
From 2000 through 2010, either Knotts or Newsome won a state championship nine times.
As the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs hit the quarterfinal round Friday, it looks like the good times have come back to Mecklenburg County. Charlotte-area teams are dominating the 4A and 4AA brackets.
In 4AA, Providence will be at Mallard Creek and Hough will be at Lake Norman. In 4A, Rocky River will be at Vance and Charlotte Catholic will go to Pfafftown Reagan.
Other than Catholic, the quarterfinals feel a lot like a September nonconference Friday, and that’s a testament to a group of new coaching faces in Charlotte who are quickly proving themselves:
Catholic has only lost to Mallard Creek, which now is a heavy favorite to win a second straight 4AA state championship. These Cougars look, at least in terms of results, a lot like Oddo’s used to.
Later, the Huskies led Mallard Creek 30-0 and lost 37-30. Since that low point, there has been nothing but highs. Hough has won six straight, including a convincing 42-29 win against then Sweet 16 No. 1 and unbeaten Independence last week. Hough won its first playoff game this year and has tied the school record for wins.
From here, it looks like another golden age might be brewing.