PASSING FANCY: Charlotte Independence, now the two-time North Carolina High School Athletic Association state 4-A football champions, set a number of new state team passing standards for the 2001 season. As a team, the Patriots threw for 4,608 yards, a new mark, and also completed 302 passes and had 58 touchdown passes, both new standards. Of course, the vast majority of those totals were achieved by super quarterback Chris Leak, who was the Wendy¹s Most Valuable Player in the Patriots¹ 49-25 victory over Wilmington Laney in the 4-A title game.
Leak, the first quarterback in North Carolina prep history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season twice, threw for 4,521 yards this season, just eight yards short of the standard he established last year when he broke the record which had been held by Donnie Davis of Burlington Cummings for a decade. He set new state records for completions (296), attempts (453) and touchdown passes (57) this season. And his ratio of touchdown passes to interceptions is just astonishing; after he threw for four scores in the state title game, that gave him 57 TD passes to just 12 picks on the year.
ON THE RECEIVING END: Mario Raley of Independence is just the second player in North Carolina prep history to catch 100 or more passes in two different seasons. The talented receive caught 100 this year after grabbing 107 during the 2000 campaign. Only Maurice Mebane of Burlington Cummings (106 in ¹91, 103 in ¹92) has done that previously.
MEDIA COVERAGE: the number of credentials issued for the 88th edition of the football state championships topped 300. There were 18 different television stations from across the state on hand for at least one of the three games on December 15. A total of nine radio stations originated broadcasts during the weekend in addition to the State Championship Radio Network, which had the Marines as its primary sponsor and had affiliates across the state. The games were once again also available for listeners
inside Kenan Stadium on a special feed.
GAME TIMES: Even though the weekend of four state championship games produced lots of scoring and offensive fireworks, the games were remarkably uniform in length and moved along pretty well. The average elapsed time of the four championships (1-A, 1-AA, 2-A and 4-A) at Kenan Stadium was two hours and 30 minutes and all ran between 2:25 and 2:37, even with a Kenan Stadium record number of points in the 1-AA game.
I GET A KICK: Sophomore kicker Tyler Lewis of Albemarle set a new state record for scoring by a kicker this season with 130 points, including six field goals and an incredible 112 points after touchdown. The 112 PATs in a season should earn Lewis a spot in the National High School Sports Record Book, based on the current edition of that publication. NOTE FROM NCPREPS-The 130 kicking points in a season is also a national record according to my source.
SPEAKING OF SCORING: Albemarle scored more points this season than any high school football team in state history. The Bulldogs, who beat Wallace-Rose Hill 66-28 for the 1-AA championship, scored 898 points in their 16-game season, which is also more points than any team has ever scored in a high school season according to the latest edition of the National High School Sports Record Book. Bloomington (CAL) scored 880
points in the ¹94 season, although that was just 14 games. This year Albemarle¹s Bulldogs averaged a whopping 56.1 points per game for the season.
GREAT RECORD: Swain County earned its sixth NCHSAA state football championship in the 1-A final as the Maroon Devils knocked off Williamston 38-19. The Maroon Devils were making their eighth title appearance and have
earned NCHSAA crowns in 1979, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 2001. Swain also has won more football playoff games than any other NCHSAA member since 1972, with 57 victories in postseason against just 15 defeats in 21 trips to the playoffs.
ANOTHER RECORD-SETTER: T.A. McLendon of Albemarle had a fabulous game for the Bulldogs in their victory over Wallace-Rose Hill. He scored seven touchdowns and rushed for 289 yards in the championship tilt as Albemarle rolled to a 66-28 victory. He finished the season with an incredible 71 touchdowns and 428 points for the season, and he wound up with 178 TD¹s for his career. The senior running back has been selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on January 5 in San Antonio, Texas. McLendon broke the state rushing record by well over 1,000 yards, finishing with 8,969 yards for his career after a 3,001-yard performance this season. Anthony
Saunders had been the record holder with 7,782 yards, achieved primarily at Western Guilford before he went on to play at the University of North Carolina.
BIG NUMBERS IN LOSING EFFORTS: Wallace-Rose Hill rolled up 402 yards rushing against Albemarle in its loss in the 1-AA championship. Wilmington Laney, which recorded the fourth best rushing mark for a team in state history with 5,371 yards this season, ran for 261 against Independence in
the 4-A final.
IN THE AIR: Williamston quarterback Brad Roach put the ball up 45 times in the Tigers loss to Swain in the 1-A final, which was a new Kenan Stadium championship record for passing attempts. Chris Leak of Independence had thrown 44 passes in the 2000 4-A championship. Roach completed 22 for 304
yards but suffered six interceptions.
ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL: Clinton¹s Herbert Dixon turned in a yeoman¹s performance for his Dark Horses, who won their fourth championship since 1990 by taking the 2-A battle over Burlington Cummings by a 34-22 count. Dixon was named the Wendy¹s Most Valuable Player in that game and with good
reason. He carried the football 15 times for 103 yards and scored three touchdowns, on runs of three, 32 and 39 yards. His third rushing score with 1:38 to play pushed Clinton ahead by 27-22. Then moments later he
intercepted a pass and ran it in from 32 yards to account for his fourth TD and the final Clinton score. He finished with a total of six tackles in the game, one quarterback hurry and one pass deflection from his linebacker spot.
LOTS OF EXPERIENCE: the Kenan Stadium press box particularly--, was the scene of an interesting sight during the 1-AA championship game. Bob Harris, the voice of Duke University football and basketball and an Albemarle High School graduate, agreed to do the play-by-play for the broadcast on the local Albemarle station, something he had done much earlier in his stellar broadcasting career. And one of his halftime guests during that game was the broadcasting voice of the University of North Carolina Tar Heel football and basketball teams Woody Durham, who is also an Albemarle graduate. Many people remarked at seeing two men with so many years broadcasting experience on radio and television at the college level discussing high school football and the NCHSAA championships.
MORE GREAT NUMBERS: Cummings quarterback Drew Williamson finished the season with 4,189 yards passing for the 2001 season. Williamson completed 21 of 39 passes for 242 yards and a pair of scores for the Cavaliers in the 34-22 loss to Clinton in the 2-A final, and he also carried the ball 16 times for 43 yards (includes four sacks). Six different Cummings players caught passes in the championship.