3A Championship – Charlotte Catholic pulls away from Southern Nash late to win third straight title
RALEIGH, NC – Charlotte Catholic stormed past Southern Nash with 20 fourth quarter points on their way to a 23-7 victory and a third straight State Championship. The victory was the school’s seventh NCHSAA State Football Championship.
Paul Neel managed to grind out two touchdowns in the late stages to help Charlotte Catholic pull away. He rushed 27 times for 156 yards and two scores, both in the fourth quarter. Neel’s first touchdown run of 39 yards with 11:53 to go in the fourth put the Cougars in front 10-7. Then with 6:23 to go, he capped off a seven-play, 41-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown plunge to go up 17-7. Neel was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Southern Nash had several opportunities to put Charlotte Catholic behind early during the quickly played first half, but the Cougar defense came up big, including a goal-line stand in the second quarter, to keep the game scoreless through the opening half. The Cougar defense was quite stingy throughout the game, holding the prolific ground attack of Southern Nash to just 157 yards for the day.
Quinton Cooley, the state’s leading rusher this year according to MaxPreps, gave Southern Nash the lead 7-3 with 3:17 to go in the third with a 1-yard touchdown run that polished off a nine-play, 79-yard drive. Cooley had to work for every inch, rushing 19 times for 79 yards in the game.
Southern Nash finished the season 15-1. The Firebirds were 5-0 and champions of the Big East 3A Conference, reaching the state finals for the first time in program history.
Charlotte Catholic earned the program’s seventh NCHSAA State Title and a third state championship in a row. The Cougars finished their year 12-3, 6-1 in the Southern Carolina 3A Conference, where they were the runners-up.
3AA Championship – Weddington finishes perfect, stops Lee County 34-14
RALEIGH, NC – The Weddington Warriors got four touchdowns from star running back Will Shipley as they took care of Lee County 34-14 to win back-to-back 3AA State Championships. The Warriors did most of their damage on the ground, outrushing Lee County 256-105 in the game behind a strong effort from the Warriors offensive line.
Shipley was dynamic at running back, carrying the ball 26 times and gaining 256 yards in the game. He scored four touchdowns, breaking several long runs in the game. Shipley opened the scoring with 8:20 to go in the first quarter, plunging in from four yards out. He also had scoring runs of 67, 2 and 22 yards on his way to being named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
After Shipley’s first touchdown, both teams failed to score until Bryson Parker scooped up a blocked punt and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown to put Weddington in front 14-0. Shipley’s 67-yard score came after the ensuing Yellow Jacket possession stalled quickly and opened the gap to 21-0 with just 4:26 to go in the half.
Lee County bounced back after the long run by Shipley, driving seven plays and 43 yards to cash in on a one-yard run by Colin Johnson that trimmed the Warrior lead to 21-7. After a missed field goal by Weddington near the end of the half, it looked like Lee County had some momentum going into the locker room.
The Jackets forced a turnover on the opening possession of the second half for Weddington. Six plays later, Johnson found Jaylen Chalmers for a 44-yard touchdown pass and Lee County closed the gap to 21-14. However, that was as close as Lee County would get as Shipley found pay dirt two more times to extend Weddington out to a comfortable 34-14 margin.
Lee County finished the season 15-1, they were 5-0 as the champions of the Tri-County 6 3A. The Yellow Jackets reached the state finals for the seventh time in school history and the first time in 45 years back when the school was known as Sanford Central.
Weddington won the program’s third state championship and their second in a row. The Warriors wrapped up the year 16-0, they were 7-0 as the champions in the Southern Carolina 3A Conference. Weddington won the Western Regional Final for the fourth time in program history.