For the first time since 1999, no Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools representative will participate in an N.C. High School Athletic Association football state semifinal.
CMS’ 21st-century gridiron dominance rendered a semifinalist almost understood as four schools — Independence, Butler, Mallard Creek, and Vance/Chambers — haveclaimed two or more state championships since 2000.
Hough’s 40-37 overtime loss at Grimsley last Friday ended the CMS postseason run this fall, and this millennium.
The 1999 N.C. 4A Western Regional final was won by A.C. Reynolds, 13-10 over Richmond. A.C. Reynolds — which defeated Douglas Byrd, 7-0, for the 1999 state title, fell short in this year’s state quarterfinals, 17-10 to visiting Weddington.
MILLBROOK MAKES HISTORY
Millbrook advanced to the school’s first state semifinals with its 19-14 win at Hillside.
The Wildcats’ potent offense has been headlined all season by junior quarterback Mason Fortune and wide receiver Nathan Leacock, a Tennessee commit.
Millbrook’s offensive success, though, is as dependent upon running back Xavier Pugh’s contributions. Pugh rushed 24 times for 136 yards and all three Wildcats touchdowns against Hillside. Pugh’s game rushing yardage moved him past 1,000 yards (1,049/6.5 yards per carry) this season. He has 22 rushing touchdowns and zero fumbles.
Pugh also is third on the team with 419 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Pugh, a safety on defense, has 42 total tackles (28 solo).
HERRING KEEPS GOING PAST 4,000
New Bern senior Aronne Herring surpassed 4,000 total career yards entering Friday’s 70-34 quarterfinal win over Rolesville. Herrring, seemingly, is saving his best for his high school career’s conclusion. His 287 rushing yards on just 20 carries yielded seven touchdowns.
The Bears, 4A state semifinalists in the spring of 2021, are seeking the school’s first state championship since 2007, when New Bern halted Independence’s run of seven consecutive state championships.
DRAUGHN CONQUERS SMOKY MOUNTAIN
Draughn’s 42-21 quarterfinal win at Andrews ended the Smoky Mountain 1A Conference’s season. Draughn ensured a most rare season conclusion in which a Smoky Mountain school will not hoist a state championship trophy.
Smoky Mountain schools Murphy, Robbinsville and Swain combined to win state championships in eight of 10 previous seasons. Andrews, which achieved an unheard milestone by defeating Murphy, Robbinsville, and Swain this season, was seeking its first state final berth.
Burns’ 2A state championship dreams will require a trip through — and win — at undefeated perennial state champion Reidsville. The Bulldogs, who have watched intra-Cleveland County rivals Crest and Shelby win multiple titles throughout the 21st century, have dispatched both aforementioned schools, including a second win (and playoff shutout) of Shelby. Burns quarterback Ben Mauney sports a 7-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
SOMETHING WILL GIVE
How close are 3A Eastern Regional finalists Northern Nash and Seventy-First? The former school has allowed 40 points among four state playoffs games. The latter school has allowed 41 points.
Something will give as Northern Nash seeks its first ever state title. The Knights’ lone state final appearance came 20 years ago (2002). Seventy-First has won two state titles, most recently in 2008 (4A). Seventy-First also won the 1986 state title when coached by Bobby Poss.
Poss was coach of the 1999 A.C. Reynolds state championship team during the last season (before this one) without a CMS state semifinalist.