SOUTHERN'S BIG-PLAY OFFENSE HAS CREST'S FULL ATTENTION
Playing with explosives is a health hazard. Crest High School coach Mark Barnes will take his chances with that when his Shelby-based Chargers go against the extremely potent Southern Spartans in the 3-AA championship game at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem on Saturday (7 p.m., Time Warner Cable channel 520). ... “Southern’s going to win if we give them too many big plays,” Barnes said. “We have to eliminate big plays. If we give those up, then we’re probably going to get beat.” ... Southern (13-2) has put 704 points on the scoreboard this season. The Spartans have scored 101 touchdowns by averaging 261.1 yards through the air and 238.3 yards on the ground. Crest (14-1) is averaging 266.9 yards per contest. The run game has been the Chargers’ bread and butter, but Barnes makes it sound like Southern could cause some problems for his team.
SOUTHERN HIGH-OCTANE OFFENSE TO MEET CREST GROUND & POUND
Southern lights up scoreboards as if they were Christmas trees. Hanging points on teams never was a concern for Southern, favored in the preseason to make a deep run in the 3-AA playoffs. The knock on the Spartans was that they’d be in trouble if they really needed to stop somebody. Fact is, the Spartans could give up a bunch of points in shootouts but still win because Coach Adrian Jones, quite frankly, has so many weapons. Crest coach Mark Barnes knows all about the heavy artillery that Jones is working with and said his Chargers cannot get into trading points with the Spartans and expect to win Saturday’s state title game at Wake Forest University’s BB&T Field in Winston-Salem (7 p.m., Time Warner Cable channel 520). “Our goal (Saturday) night is to, quite simply — we don’t want to be involved in a shootout,” Barnes said. “We want to limit their number of snaps offensively because they are so explosive offensively. If they get us involved in a shootout, that’s going to be an advantage to them.” Says Jones of Crest, “They’re a smash-mouth football team. They’re going to run the ball. There’re no ifs, ands or buts about it — they’re going to run the ball.”
SOUTHERN RIDES STRONG EMOTIONAL TIES INTO STATE 3-AA TITLE GAME
When East Region 3-AA championship coach Adrian Jones singles out Southern and Durham officials that are close to his program, he calls them family. ... That’s the way of the Spartans — family first. It’s why Southern will play for its first state title in football in a few days, Jones said. ... “We you’ve got a family that’s all together, it’s nothing better,” Jones said. “It’s hard to beat a family.” ... Shelby Crest, a run-first team out of Cleveland County, will have something to say about that at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem on Saturday (7 p.m., Time Warner Cable 520). But Southern hopes it has the answers.
Southern gets its first shot at a state championship in football.
Dominating win over Wilson Hunt leaves Southern one win from state title
Southern’s swift, swarming and ferocious defense rose up large and in charge to the challenge, forcing fumbles, sacking the quarterback, harassing receivers, blocking a punt for a touchdown, and seemingly intercepting at will in a 38-10 victory and a shot at the 3-AA championship game against
Southern’s journey through the state 3-AA playoffs will continue one more week as the Spartans cruised to a 38-10 victory over Wilson Hunt on Friday night in the Eastern regional finals. Southern will play in its first football championship game in school history next week against Shelby Crest in Winston-Salem at BB&T Field on Saturday at 7:30 p.m..
Hunt High School football coach Stevie Hinnant is no stranger to deep runs in the state playoffs — his No. 4 seeded Warriors (11-3) will be playing in the 3-AA semifinals for the fourth straight time tonight at 7:30 at No. 2 Southern (12-2).
Southern’s road through the playoffs has had a familiar feel to it but that will change Friday night when the Spartans host Wilson Hunt at 7:30 with a berth in the 3-AA state championship game on the line.
Orange, trailing by a touchdown, lost its starting quarterback on a keeper when he was pounded by Southern defenders, perhaps costing the Panthers a shot at victory.
East Regional No. 2 seed Southern (12-2) stopped No. 6 seed Orange (12-2) for the second time in four weeks 31-24 Friday night and got a huge break when No. 4 seed Wilson Hunt (11-3) upset No. 1 seed Fayetteville Douglas Byrd (11-3) 20-14 on the road Friday as well. As a result, Southern (12-2) will host the state 3-AA East Regional championship game Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The winner of that game will play for the state title at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Wake Forest University’s BB&T Field in Winston-Salem. ... Also, a look at how loss of Orange quarterback Garrett Cloer to injury handicapped the Panthers.
The 3-A Big Eight Conference powers finished the regular season 1-2 in the conference standings on the heels of Southern’s 55-41 Nov. 8 home win over the previously unbeaten Panthers that clinched Southern’s first title in the new league.
It was billed as the Game of the Year on Nov. 8 and it more than lived up to expectations as Southern High School held serve 55-41 in a game that turned on an Orange onside kick that Southern recovered with 3:08 to play and Orange trailing 48-41. Little did anyone know at the time, that showdown between 8-2 Southern and 10-0 Orange was just an appetizer for Friday’s main course, Game of the Year II — Orange at Southern, 7:30 p.m. This meeting means more than the first one did — and that one handed the prestigious Big Eight 3-A Conference title to Southern by a game over Orange. Friday’s Elite Eight 3-AA state playoff game will determine who moves on to play in the state semifinals and a shot at the 3-AA state championship.
Whoever said the Age of Miracles is over might want to rethink that pronouncement after the way Southern beat Cardinal Gibbons in a 33-28 shootout featuring stellar quarterbacks, high-octane offenses, and wild and wooly plays worthy of anybody’s highlight reel. Southern advances to the third round of the state 3-AA football playoffs and will host Orange at 7:30 p.m. Friday in an Elite Eight battle of the Big Eight 3-A Conference champion — Southern — and runner-up, Orange. Southern won the first meeting of the two teams.