Smithfield-Selmas football team was asked two simple questions Friday night at halftime by their head coach David Lawhon.
Do you believe you can score 21 points?
Yes sir, came the Spartans collective answer.
Do you think you can hold South Johnston scoreless?
Yes sir, came their response again.
Then they just out and did just that, Lawhon recalled after the Spartans rallied from a 21-0 halftime deficit Friday to top rival South Johnston 22-21, ending the states longest losing streak at 40 games.
The celebration and emotional postgame huddle was something most of SSSs players had never experienced. Few of them have been part of a win in football during their high school careers.
Im just so proud and happy, especially for the seniors, Lawhon said. Just them getting to have this experience, this feeling after a game after theyve worked so hard.
It was just a tremendous feeling to be a part of and to watch them celebrate the experience of winning.
International Bowl: Durham Hillside defensive back Kalen McCain and Ravenscroft wide receiver Avery Edwards have been selected to play for the 2014 U.S. Under-19 national football team against Team Canada in the International Bowl on Feb. 7 at Maverick Stadium on the University of Texas at Arlington campus.
McCain (6-1, 175 pounds) is an N.C. State recruit and Edwards (6-5, 228 pounds) is a University of North Carolina recruit.
Pride: St. Davids coach Wes Wilders club lost in the N.C. Independent School Athletic Association eight-man football semifinals to Rocky Mount Academy 48-46, but he is justifiably proud of his players.
St. Davids lost five of its first six games and had been outscored 258-123. But Wilders team turned the season around and held four straight opponents to 16 points or less.
In the first round of the playoffs, it defeated Hobgood Academy 54-14 after losing to Hobgood 73-33 earlier in the year.
Sanderson: Another team that is coming on is Sanderson, which lost to Millbrook 41-40 in the regular-season finale on Friday. The Spartans lost their first two games, but played close against the Cap Eights four best teams, beating Wake Forest 14-10 and losing to Wakefield 34-27, Leesville Road 28-17 and to Millbrook.
The Spartans travel to Fayetteville Britt, the 2012 Eastern 4AA champion, on Friday night.
It took us a while to find ourselves, said Ben Kolstad, the former Cary coach who began his first season at Sanderson this year. We had a really tough set of games early, but our defense has played well for the most part all season and our offensive line has come around.
Rematch: More than a few folks wondered how Millbrook versus Leesville Road would have turned out on a dry field after Leesville took a 7-3 Cap Eight 4A victory in a game played in the rain. The two teams are paired in the first round of the playoffs.
I don't like that all of the Cap Eight is in the top half of the bracket playing one another in the first two rounds, said Millbrook coach Clarence Inscore. We have a great conference with some very strong teams and we are going to have to knock each other out early. Looks like a Pod to me!
The Cap Eight produced four Wakefield, Leesville, Millbrook and Wake Forest of the eight teams in the top half of the 4AA East bracket. Only one can reach the third round.
Comeback: Green Hopes Chris Tutwiler, the projected starting quarterback, dressed out for the Falcons 28-18 loss to Panther Creek on Friday. He broke his tibia and fibula in a preseason scrimmage and has missed the entire season. He did not play in the game, but was in uniform.
Poor showing: North Carolina, N.C. State and Duke are all multimillion dollar basketball operations and can draw large crowds whenever they play. Yet all three chose to play on Friday night, directly competing with essentially every high school athletic program in the state. High school programs struggle to fund their athletic programs and rely to a great extent on football gate receipts.
D. Clay Best contributed to this story.