Hillside looked almost angry Friday night that it’s not ranked in the Associated Press top 10 for N.C. High School football.
Perhaps underestimated since the Hornets lost two of their first three games this year, Hillside looked every bit like a state contender again in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletics Association 4A playoffs – blasting Roxboro Person 55-9. A pair of prized blue-chippers led the way.
N.C. State recruit Daeshawn Stephens caught four touchdown passes, and Abdul Adams, leaning toward Michigan State or Maryland, ran for 203 yards and two touchdowns as Hillside defeated Person for the second straight week.
The two PAC-6 rivals met in their last game of the regular season Nov. 6 in Roxboro, with Hillside winning 41-0. The Hornets have scored 200 points in their last four games, yielding just 23 to opponents.
Seeded No. 3 in the NCHSAA 4A East, Hillside improved to 9-2 with its eighth straight win. No. 14-seeded Person fell to 6-6 with its fourth loss in its last five games.
With Friday’s win, Hillside was slated to host No. 6 Wilmington Hoggard (8-4) in a second-round game this coming Friday. Hoggard defeated Fayetteville’s 11th-seeded E.E. Smith 28-22 in the first round.
Friday night at Blount Memorial Stadium, Hillside jumped out to a 21-0 lead on Person in the first quarter. Adams ran 25 yards for the game’s first touchdown, followed by Stephens’s first touchdown of the night on a 25-yard throw by Caldwell. Speedster Marcus Krah made it a three TD lead with his 64-yard catch-and-run of a Caldwell pass with 1:10 left in the opening quarter.
After Person got on the board with a 21-yard field goal by Luke Gillie midway through the second quarter, Stephens then scored the game’s next three touchdowns on catches of 10, 21 and 14 yards.
Person’s lone TD came on a 22-yard interception return by Malik Street late in the third quarter. A failed onside kick by the Rockets gave Hillside possession at midfield, and Adams promptly reeled off a 50-yard gain to set up his own 1-yard TD with 3 minutes, 49 seconds left in the third quarter.
Hillside ate up most of the fourth quarter with runs, and Caldwell tacked on a final score with his 8-yard run late in the game.