W.E. Warnock - Etcetera:
Published: Dec 01, 2012 01:38 PM
Modified: Dec 02, 2012 09:43 AM
This was an uncommonly good year for football in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area.
It surely seems weve said that several years in a row, and thats simply because we feel the quality of local football has been on an upward trend for some time now.
The most obvious evidence is the ascendancy of Carrboro High School.
The rise of the Jaguars from a team getting beat 89-0 in their opening weeks of varsity football six years ago to an undefeated team playing for the state championship has been recounted often in recent days.
Nonetheless, its worth noting that Carrboro is the first local high school to play for a true N.C. High School Athletic Association football championship.
Chapel Hill High School is recognized by the NCHSAA for state championships in 1919 and 1920. These were the teams that produced future University of North Carolina fullback Jack "Battering Ram" Merritt, the man who inspired the universitys ram mascot.
Chapel Hill also played in Kenan Stadium in 1964 against Tuscola for the western N.C. championship considered one of two "state" championships. The then-Wildcats lost that game 20-13.
And of course Lincoln High played six times in seven years for the N.C. High School Athletic Conference championship before integration winning the state title three times, including an undefeated year in 1961.
But since the NCHSAA started keeping playoff records in 1972, no Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools team has played in a state football final until Carrboro on Saturday.Nothing but the best
A teams worth often can be measured by the quality of its opponents.
By that standard, every team from this county that made the playoffs had a great year.
Chapel Hill and Orange finished the regular season with five losses between them. Oranges only losses came against teams that were undefeated and ranked in the states top 10 heading into the playoffs: Carrboro and Cardinal Gibbons. Chapel Hill lost to those two teams and Orange.
Likewise, all of East Chapel Hills six losses were against teams that made the playoffs, four that won at least one playoff game, and two of the losses came against teams that finished the regular season undefeated Scotland County and Carrboro.Durham's also-rans
One big sea change came about in this post-season. For the past few years, Chapel Hill and Orange County teams have bowed out early, while Durham County Schools made playoff runs.
Things began to shift last year, when Chapel Hill advanced to the second round for the first time since 2007. Last year also was the first time in decades that Chapel Hill got to host a playoff game.
This year, Chapel Hill again reached the second round before losing to North Carolinas No. 1 3A team, undefeated Northern Guilford. Orange reached the 3A state semifinals before losing at defending state champion Havelock.
All three of the Durham County schools that reached the playoffs went out in the first round.
Thats significant. Especially for East Chapel Hill, which must be able to beat at least one playoff team in its own conference if the Wildcats are ever to host a post-season game.
East has been able to perform respectably against its local, nonconference rivals. If the Durham teams drop a notch, future Wildcats might be able to find that elusive sixth win against a conference opponent.
- CHN -