Norman, Warley grab state prep honors

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 30, 2006

Associated Press

RALEIGH — Few people can appreciate what it means to lead Shelby to a state championship better than Chris Norman.

Norman grew up with the program’s tradition, playing there in high school and spending 11 seasons as an assistant coach before taking over in 1998. Now he’s celebrating his own contribution to the school’s legacy after leading the Golden Lions to their first unbeaten title season in nearly 35 years and being named The Associated Press prep football coach of the year for North Carolina.

“It’s an awesome responsibility to try to maintain the tradition and keep going what the guys before me started,” Norman said. “And you do that with good players and assistant coaches. I’m not stupid enough to believe you can do it without that.”

Norman’s success was enough to edge out a field of worthy candidates in a year in which there was no clear-cut choice. Norman earned five of a possible 21 votes from a panel of sports writers statewide in voting results released Friday, while Watauga County’s Adrian Snow — who led his team to its best season since 1978 and its first appearance in the state semifinals — finished second with four votes.

Warsaw Kenan’s Ken Avent Jr. was third with three votes after leading his team to a 15-1 record in his first season there, while Durham Riverside’s Tommy Blalock, Jones County’s Greg Hampton and Charlotte Independence’s Tom Knotts — whose team has won seven straight state titles and 108 consecutive games — earned two votes each.

PREP PLAYER

RALEIGH — About the only thing that slowed down Quan Warley this season was the success of his Thomasville team.

With the Bulldogs on their way to another unbeaten season and a third straight state championship, the senior running back often found himself resting on the bench during the second half of many easy wins. He still put up impressive rushing totals during the title run, capping his career by being named The Associated Press prep football player of the year for the second straight time.

Warley earned eight of 21 votes from a panel of sports writers statewide in results released Saturday, making him only the third two-time winner of the honor and the second to win the award in consecutive seasons. A.L. Brown running back Nick Maddox won in 1997 and 1998, while Charlotte Independence quarterback Chris Leak won in 2000 and 2002.

Watauga County’s Eric Breitenstein was second with six votes after a brilliant two-way season in which he ran for 2,625 yards and 26 touchdowns as a running back and tallied a school-record 163 tackles as a safety.

Warley, the 16th running back to win the award since 1983, ran for 2,816 yards and 39 touchdowns to help Thomasville (16-0) win the Class 1-AA crown.

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