Myers Park, Hough clear hurdles, set up interesting quarters
Where to start with Friday’s second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs?
So many things jump out:
Hough was the Obser● ver’s preseason Sweet 16 No. 1 and was, at best, an unpopular choice among some fans. That the Huskies had some surprising close calls early in the season, and in the middle of the season, only increased the chatter. Then Hough lost to Vance and Mallard Creek on back-toback weeks to end the regular season.
Well, that same Hough team, which had struggled with injuries, got the biggest win in school history Friday, upsetting Mallard Creek 19-7 on the road in the playoffs’ second round. Hough converted three Mavericks turnovers into 13 points. Moreover, Hough beat Mallard Creek on the offensive and defensive line of scrimmage.
That’s usually how Mallard Creek beats you.
This time, Hough allowed 169 yards total offense, including 160 on the ground. In a 26-10 loss to Mallard Creek a few weeks ago, Hough allowed more than 400 yards rushing. And that’s how Hough beat the Mavericks for just the second time in school history.
Myers Park has not
● beaten Butler in the regular-season in the past 10 years. But the Mustangs have eliminated the Bulldogs from the playoffs in back-to-back years after Friday’s definitive 33-8 win at Butler that felt a little like a changing of the guard.
Myers Park (12-1) tied the school record for wins it set last season and has its third straight year with at least 11 victories. The school opened in the 1950s and the Mustangs had only three seasons with double-digits wins before that. Mustangs coach Scott Chadwick, making a serious bid for the best coach the school has ever had, has Myers Park two wins from the first N.C. 4A state finals appearance in school history.
Myers Park lost 18-15 to Elizabeth City in the 1957 2A state final, ending the school’s 18-game win streak. In 1965, Myers Park beat Garinger 27-6 in the N.C. 4A Western Regional final to improve to 11-0, but no state final was played that season.
So 2018 could be a historic season for Myers Park. And we emphasize “could.”
Butler had not played ● in a month and the Bulldogs looked rusty Friday. Myers Park lost to Butler seven weeks ago in a game that was basically the Southwestern 4A league championship. Since then, Butler played just twice - Oct. 19 against Harrisburg Hickory Ridge and Oct. 26 against Garinger. This was after NCHSAA-imposed penalties forced three area teams - Hickory Ridge, Independence and East Mecklenburg - to end their seasons early for in-game and post-game fights.
The Bulldogs’ final two games were scheduled to be East Meck and Independence. So combine that with a first-round bye for winning the league, and Butler was off the field for a long time.
Mallard Creek was the
No. 1 overall 4AA West seed and with the Mavericks gone, the road to the state finals goes through Rockingham, and Richmond is state-title good again. It feels like 1998 when the Raiders were rolling through North Carolina and everyone else was trying to catch up.
Richmond is averaging 41.5 points in the playoffs and has only lost to twotime N.C. 4AA champion Wake Forest. And as I’ve said before, the Raiders have had a lot of success in years that end with “8.” Richmond won the state title in 2008, 1998, 1988 and 1978.
This, of course, is 2018. Next up for the Raiders? A very hot Myers Park team, and Myers Park is going to find out next week that there’s nothing in North Carolina quite like being a road team in Rockingham. Richmond, though, will have its hands full with aMustangs team that has lots of college talent, and lots of confidence.
Myers Park wide receiver Elijah Bowick scores a touchdown against Butler Friday night in the second round of the N.C. 4AA playoffs.