My­ers Park, Vance, Char­lotte Catholic in ‘rare air’

The Charlotte Observer - - Front Page - BY LANGSTON WERTZ JR.

lw­[email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

Three Meck­len­burg County high school foot­ball teams are play­ing in state semi­fi­nal games Fri­day.

My­ers Park will play Vance at Mal­lard Creek High after Char­lotte-Meck­len­burg Schools of­fi­cials de­ter­mined that a soft and wet field at Vance might pose safety con­cerns.

Across town, Char­lotte Catholic will host Kings Moun­tain in the N.C. 3A semi­fi­nals. Catholic, the reign­ing 3A state cham­pion, will try to qual­ify for its 10th state fi­nal.

Un­like My­ers Park or Vance, who have never played in a mod­ern era state fi­nal, the Cougars have won five pre­vi­ous N.C. cham­pi­onships.

“We have a great tra­di­tion,” Catholic coach Mike Brodow­icz said. “Foot­ball is im­por­tant at this school. It’s our flag­ship pro­gram.”

Catholic (13-1) is mak­ing its ninth con­sec­u­tive ap­pear­ance in the semi­fi­nals, or Western Re­gional cham­pi­onship game. In­de­pen­dence holds the county record of 10 straight semi­fi­nals ap­pear­ances, from 2000- 09.

Fri­day night, Catholic will play a Kings Moun­tain team that is 12-2 and has won seven straight games. The Moun­taineers are av­er­ag­ing more than 42 points each week. Kings Moun­tain quar­ter­back Kay­lon Wade has thrown for 3,063 yards and 42 touch­downs. He has rushed for 780 yards and 17 more scores.

Kings Moun­tain has nearly 6,000 yards to­tal of­fense this

sea­son

“They’re dy­namic,” Brodow­icz said. “Of­fen­sively, they’re a big chal­lenge for us.”

Catholic is al­low­ing just over six points per game. That av­er­age is closer to three points when the Cougars’ starters fin­ish games, Brodow­icz said. Catholic’s de­fense, for ex­am­ple, shut out N.C. 3AA semi­fi­nal­ist Wed­ding­ton 20- 0 Sept. 28 and held the War­riors to nega­tive yardage run­ning the ball.

Brodow­icz said he ex­pects a tough game from Kings Moun­tain.

“Hope­fully, we can play ball con­trol, keep their of­fense off the field and play good de­fense,” he said. “Then we can make this is a back­street brawl and it can be a 21-14 or 14-3 game. Re­ally I don’t care what the score is, so long as we’re ahead at the end. It’s go­ing to be a great at­mos­phere with a whole lot of peo­ple here.”

That will also be the case at Mal­lard Creek.

Vance is in the re­gional fi­nal for the fourth time in five years un­der coach Aaron Brand. My­ers Park makes its third re­gional ap­pear­ance and first in 13 years. The Mus­tangs also played in the 1965 Western 4A re­gional fi­nal and beat Garinger 27- 6. But no state cham­pi­onship was played that year.

The Mus­tangs lost 18-15 to El­iz­a­beth City in the 1957 N.C. 2A state fi­nals, but has not reached the cham­pi­onship round since the N.C. High School Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion be­gan hav­ing four class cham­pi­onships in 1959, the start of the so-called “mod­ern era.”

My­ers Park has also never played in a class 4A cham­pi­onship, the largest and tough­est class in North Carolina.

“It means a lot to ev­ery­body here,” My­ers Park coach Scott Chad­wick said, “be­cause this is rare air for My­ers Park. This is only the (third) time that My­ers Park has reached a 4A re­gional fi­nal and it would mean a lot to our school and com­mu­nity and alumni base to win it.”

Brand, who has won state ti­tles as an as­sis­tant coach at In­de­pen­dence and Mal­lard Creek, said coaches and teams should cel­e­brate get­ting this far. He wants his team to en­joy the mo­ment.

He also des­per­ately wants to win.

“There’s so many peo­ple that don’t get to this point,” he said. “If we can keep get­ting there, at some point we are go­ing to break through (and get to the state fi­nals). I hope it’s this time. If not, we’ll keep try­ing and we’re go­ing to load up and get go­ing again.”

JA­SON E. MICZEK Spe­cial to the Ob­server

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