NORTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
THERE’S QUITE THE ARGUMENT ABOUT WHO TO put No. 1 in the 3A classification, and it starts with last year’s state champion. No. 1 goes to reigning 3AA champ Northern
Guilford ( 15-1) for a few reasons. The Nighthawks have
coaching continuity, while 3A champ Crest is starting anew
and Northern Guilford wasn’t supposed to win it all last year.
When Northern Guilford didn’t win its conference, a 32-28
trip-up to a really good Eastern Alamance ( 13-1) team, the
Nighthawks went on the warpath, holding six of their next 10
opponents to seven points or less and scoring 55 or more six
times in that span. Winning the state championship after not
claiming a conference title isn’t new for Northern Guilford. It
did the same in 2010.
Now, the school that opened in 2008 is 92-10 overall.
It’s tough to put a team as experienced, talented and well-
supported from the community the way the Crest Chargers
(16-0) are at No. 2.
The team from Boiling Springs, N.C., won the 3A title one
year after being denied in the 3AA title game, but coach
Mark Barnes left for a coaching gig in South Carolina. The
Chargers won’t take a step back, but Barnes was regarded
as one of the state’s best in his profession.
Star running back Tre Harbison is one of the state’s best players.
There is no way to have a statewide conversation without
including our No. 3 pick, the Havelock Rams ( 14-2). Havelock
made it four state title games, falling short last year to Crest
after three straight championships, and has been to the East
final every year since 2009.
The Rams should be stellar again and linebacker Keion
Joyner is the player to watch. He’s attracting college coaches
from around the country. On offense, Kyran Bowman, a North
Carolina recruit, leads the way.
There’s no way anyone would have expected Cuthbertson
( 11-4), a relatively new school in Union County near Waxhaw,
to be ranked No. 4 in 3A going into the 2015 season.
At least not until quarterback Austin Kendall transferred
in prior to last season. The Oklahoma-bound quarterback
helped turn things around for the Cavaliers, who had only
experienced championship-level basketball teams.
The football squad had never won more than six games
in a season before last year, falling in the 3AA West final to
Cuthbertson had beaten Weddington, which is located just
four miles down the road, in the regular season.
For No. 5 on the list, we go to the Triangle where Southern
Durham ( 13-1) will have to show some staying power.
The Spartans have gone 27-3 in the last two seasons with
some big-time wins against Scotland, Crest, Hillside and Orange
(three times). Just to win the Big 8 Conference – which will have
a new name as Cardinal Gibbons’ request to move to 4A was
accepted – in both seasons was a remarkable achievement.
This year’s team may have less passing and more reliance
on scat-back Jordon Brown. – J. Mike Blake
Defensive lineman Chris
Willis of Crest is one of 3A’s
top returning players in 2015.
QB Austin Kendall, Cuthbertson
RB B.J. Emmons, Freedom
RB C.J. Freeman, Northern Guilford
RB Tre Harbison, Crest
WR Moe Neal, Forestview
WR Tahj Deans, Southern Nash
OL Harrison Gee, Williams
OL Pete Leota, Asheville
OL Sawyer Kimmer, East Rowan
OL Joseph Sculthorpe, Topsail
OL Alex Gourley, South Iredell
ATH John Lamot, Eastern Alamance
DL Nick Coe, Asheboro
DL Chris Willis, Crest
DL Timothy Horne, Anson
DL Will Putnam, Hickory Ridge
LB Garrett Hooker, Ledford
LB Aaron Ramseur, Crest
LB Keion Joyner, Havelock
DB Mark Gilbert, Terry Sanford
DB Isaiah Stallings, Terry Sanford
DB Derrek Williams, North Forsyth
ATH Jordon Brown, Southern Durham
ATH Rico Dowdle, A.C. Reynolds
1. Northern Guilford
5. Southern Durham