The NCISAA 8 man football conference begins their 22st year of playoffs this Friday night. Over the years we have seen some powerhouse squads take the title as well as some surprises.
Among the strongest units in my memory were the three peat teams of Trinity Christian 2007, 2008, & 2009, the Wake Christian domination of the mid to late ninties and Halifax Academy in 2001 & 2002. Also the 1992 Lawrence eight as well as 2003 Harrells team rank up there as well. Word of God, state championship winner in 2010 and 2011 is another of the top all time units.
The best teams in my opinion not to win the title were the 1994 Enfield Academy squad as well as the 1999 Halifax Academy team and 2005 Arendell Parrott. The biggest upset in state championship play, also in my opinion was Southampton's win over Trinity Christian in the 2004 state title game.
Perhaps the most exciting game in my memory was the 2007 state championship contest between Trinity Christian and Halifax Academy. It was a defensive struggle with neither team scoring until late in the third quarter. The Crusaders pulled out a 16-8 win with the game winning touchdown coming as Leforice Blue connected with Alexander Nious with a 24 yard halfback pass play with only 28 ticks left on the clock.
This year marks the return of Southampton Academy to the fray. The Raiders have appeared in six state championship tilts and have two titles to its credit. Two weeks ago SA ended two time defending state champion Word of God's 31 game winning streak and barring a major upset a rematch looms on the horizon.
Here's a look at the first round matchups beginning Friday night, weather permitting as Hurricane Sandy may send rain to the east by gametime.
# 8 Lawrence Academy at #1 Southampton Academy
Lawrence 2-7..262 Pts Scored..465 Pts Allowed
Southampton 9-0…535 Pts Scored..272 Pts Allowed
Regular Season Meeting : Southampton 60 Lawrence 7
State Championship Game Appearances..Lawrence (1), Southampton (6)
State Championships..Southampton (2) 1997, 2004-Lawrence (1) 1992
Southampton Coach reached another milestone in his 21 year career at Southampton Academy as he achieved his first undefeated regular season. Marks who has won two state titles at the Courtland, Virginia school is the dean of coaches at the 8man level. This year's squad has been multi pronged on offense as talented running back Tonee Hill has been the leader on the ground with help from fullback Paul Parker and return specialist Cameron Hines. Sophomore QB Matt Rose has done s fine job as field general.
Meanwhile Lawrence makes its second trip to Southampton in two weeks as they dropped their season finale there by a 60-7 score. Coach Beau Drake has seen improvement in this year's unit led by quarterback Jesse White. Ryan Lilley, a baseball standout, playing football for the first time has been a pleasant surprise at the tailback postion. Zack Eubanks (6'2 320 lbs0 has paced the defense.
# 7 Rocky Mount Academy at # 2 Word of God Christian Academy
Rocky Mount Academy 4-5..352 Pts Scored..320 Pts Allowed..
Word of God..8-1 450 Pts scored..143 Pts Allowed
Regular Season Meeting : Word of God 56 Rocky Mount 0
State Championship Game Appearances..Rocky Mount (0)..Word of God (4)
State Championships…Rocky Mount (0), Word of God (2) 2010, 2011.
Two time defending state champion Word of God's 31 game win streak spanning over the past three seasons was snapped by Southampton Academy two weeks ago. The Raiders scored on a last second play to hand WOG third year coach Kevin Washington his first loss as the head mentor. The Holy Rams would like nothing better than a rematch with the Raiders but cannot afford to over look their opponents. Running back Casty St Louis has been WOG's leader this season amassing 1417 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns. However it is the Holy Ram defense that has been the key. They have held their opponents to just under 17 points a game, a very impressive figure in the high scoring 8 man ranks, and have recorded two shutouts.
Meanwhile Rocky Mount, under 1st year coach B.W. Holt have shown marked improvement throughout the season. Holt , who has had highly successful coaching stints at Rocky Mount HS, West Montgomery, Starmount and Franklinton has installed his version of the 8 man wing T offense. The Eagles team leader has been Adam Bayless, the best eight 8 man player in the state not selected to the Oasis Bowl team.
# 6 Arendell Parrott at # 3 Hobgood Academy
Arendell Parrott..4-5..329 Pts Scored..309 Pts Allowed
Hobgoos..7-2..412 Pts Allowed..399 Pts Allowed
Regular Season Meeting…Hobgood 44 Arendell Parrott 40
State Championship Game Appearances…Parrott (4), Hobgood (4)
State Championships…Parrott (1) 1990…Hobgood (1) 1994
It is a rarity that a high school football team visits the same school twice in one year. It is almost unheard of for a school to play three times in one year on an opposing school's home turf. Yet Arendell Parrott will accomplish that feat Friday night when they journey up US 258 to face Hobgood Academy in the first round of the playoffs. The teams met in their season opener but due to a time clock miscue the Patriots had to return to Hobgood several weeks later to play one quarter to complete the contest. APA first year coach Matt Beamon is in somewhat of a rebuilding mode this season after losing the nucleus of last year's satte runnerup unit due to graduation. In addition the Patriots go into the contest unsure if QB and Oasis Bowl selection Andrew Davenport will be available after injuring his ankle versus St Davids.
Hobgood meanwhile is enjoying their best season in ten years. The Radiers have been spearheaded by the double pronged rushing attack of running backs G.J. Mullins and Jawan Marshall. Mullins has already surpassed the 2000 yard mark. QB Christopher Braddy has done an admirable job of running the Raiders offense in his first year as the starter at thr position. It also has to mentioned that Mullins, Marshall and Braddy are all sophomores-music to Raider Coach Brandon Lanier's ears.
# 5 St Davids at # 4 Cary Christian
St Davids..4-5..311 Pts scored..258 Points Allowed
Cary Christian 6-3..270 Pts Score..245 Pts Allowed
Regular Season Meeting…Cary Christian 35 St Davids 28
State Championship Game Appearances..St Davids (2), Cary Christian (1)
State Championships…St Davids (1) 2006…Cary Christian (0)
This may be the most intriguing of the four first round matchups though 4/5 contests usually are. The two teams stayed neck and neck in their regular season contest with the final outcome the largest lead of the night. Cary Christian's veteran QB James Peterson is a threat both on the ground and through the air and he has a plethora (a Glen Taylor word) of receivers. Senior Jonathan Henderson is the Knights' top rusher while defensive back Will Gomperts is a huge kickoff and punt return threat.
Coach Wes Wilders St Davids Warriors have suffered through the injury bug but appear to be finally healthy entering the playioffs. Freshman QB Clay Vick has been impressive with his passing while senior Travis Albrecht and hard nosed sophomore Reef Ivey have been the leaders on the ground. Receivers Tom Beley and Christopher Andrews have been Vick's favorite targets. Senior kicker Joshua Cianca also poses a threat for the Warriors.
FINAL REGULAR SEASON STANDINGS
Arendell Parrott. 4-5….329---309
Word of God..8-1….450---143
Previous NCISAA 8 Man State Champions
1990..Arendell Parrott over Enfield Academy
1991..Wilson Christian over Hobgood
1992..Lawrence over Hobgood
1993..Harrells over NEW Academy
1994..Hobgood over Wake Christian
1995..Wake Christian over Southampton
1996..Wake Christian over Southampton
1997..Southampton over Halifax
1998..Wake Christian over Halifax
1999..Wake Christian over Southampton
2000..Wake Christian over Arendell Parrott
2001..Halifax over Hobgood
2002..Halifax over Southampton
2003..Harrells over Trinity Christian
2004..Southampton over Trinity Christian
2005..Harrells over Arendell Parrott
2006..St Davids over Word of God
2007..Trinity Christian over Halifax
2008..Trinity Christian over Word of God
2009..Trinity Christian over St Davids
2010..Word of God over Cary Christian
2011..Word of God over Arendell Parrott