Prep Football: State Championship roundup

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 13, 2008

Associated Press
RALEIGH ó When Thomasville enters the 2A ranks next season and begins play in the Central Carolina Conference, the Bulldogs can say they’re state champions.
John Hinson-Braddy ran circles around East Bladen all night. Appropriately, a touchdown run featuring two 360-degree spins got him started.
John Hinson-Braddy rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns to help Thomasville beat East Bladen 42-13 in the Class 1-AA North Carolina High School Athletic Association championship Saturday.
Hinson-Braddy earned MVP honors for the Bulldogs (16-0), who jumped out to a 21-0 lead. D.J. McLendon added nine receptions for 179 yards and two scores for Thomasville, while Chris Brooks completed 10 of 12 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bulldogs operate a run-oriented offense, but they showed balance as they piled up 485 total yards.
“It was a matter of they played the run so hard and so physically that they forced us into more passing than we probably ordinarily do,” Thomasville coach Allen Brown said. “But we were fortunate to have the ability to do that.”
Hinson-Braddy spun out of a pair of tackles on a 28-yard scoring run on the Bulldogs’ first possession, setting the tone as Thomasville won its fourth state title in the last five years.
“It got me really hyped, like I couldn’t be stopped,” said Hinson-Braddy, the game’s MVP. “I just kept going after it harder and harder.”
RALEIGH ó Aaron Wheeler was looking for a test. When he and his Mount Airy teammates finally found one, they aced it.Wheeler rushed for a touchdown and passed for another score Saturday as Mount Airy rallied past Williamston 37-14.
The Granite Bears (16-0), who entered the game having outscored their opponents by an average of 54-5 this season, came back from a 14-0 deficit.
Williamston (10-6), which had won seven consecutive games after starting the season 3-5, jumped ahead on a pair of touchdown passes from Emery Griggs to Kareem Bell in the first quarter.
The Granite Bears forced five turnovers.
RALEIGH ó Damien Lee took advantage of his chance to add to his school’s rich football history.
Lee spearheaded a dominant defensive effort with 10 tackles, four of them for a loss, as Reidsville beat East Lincoln 24-7.
The Rams (16-0) won their 32nd consecutive game and repeated as state champions for the second time this decade.
But the story of the game was the Rams’ defense as East Lincoln (14-2) gained just 177 total yards, 80 of which came on its game-opening touchdown drive.
The Rams totaled seven sacks and five pass breakups while holding the Mustangs to six yards rushing. Linebacker Michael Stacey, who had nine tackles and two sacks, capped the scoring with a 12-yard fumble return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
CHAPEL HILL ó James Hopper rumbled for 192 yards rushing and scored all four of his team’s touchdowns to lead Fayetteville 71st past Fayetteville Byrd 28-7.
Hopper, the most valuable player for the game, helped veteran coach Bob Paroli to earn his first state championship.
Byrd (12-4) had cut a 14-0 halftime deficit to 14-7 when Malcolm Rowe capped a 55-yard, 11-play drive on a 6-yard scoring run with 3:46 to go in the third quarter. But Hopper scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to put the game away for the Falcons (14-2).
“We kind of ran into a buzzsaw tonight,” said East Bladen coach Lenon Fisher, whose team was making its first finals appearance since 1973. “We played hard and played well, but it just wasn’t for us tonight.