Championship Central

Check out the 2018 Carolina Gridiron Championship Central page. Stay tuned for updates, insights, and analysis from teams and games around the state as schools start their journey towards the state championship.

2018 Preseason All-Gridiron Team Released

Carolina Gridiron is pleased to announce the 2018 preseason All-Gridiron team. Congratulations to each of the players chosen and best wishes for a successful 2018 season.

Check Out The Weekly Top 15 This Season releases Top 15 Rankings every week. Be sure to check back each Thursday duing the season to see where your favorite team is ranked.

College Football in North Carolina

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Scrimmages and Jamborees

With your help, we are able to yearly put together the most comprehensive statewide high school football jamboree/scrimmage list in North Carolina. We are beginning the 2018 list now. Be sure to check back for more scrimmages and jamborees.

Carolina Gridiron FAIR Rankings

Check out the Carolina Gridiron FAIR Rankings archives to see where your team has stacked up during past seasons. The 2018 rankings will be released once all teams have played at least one game against an NCHSAA opponent.

East Forsyth Holds Off Scotland in 4A Thriller

DURHAM – East Forsyth came from behind twice in the second half to tie Scotland, eventually taking the lead with just 2:45 to play and hanging on for a 35-28 victory and the school’s second state championship.

Scotland had the game’s opening possession and they made the most of it as the Scots drove 62 yards in 16 plays using the first 7:50 of the game. Syheam McQueen pushed it across the goal line on a two-yard dive to give the Scots the lead on the first of his two touchdowns.

East Forsyth responded with the next two scores. Micah Crowell scored on a four-yard run with 2:17 to go in the first quarter to tie the game at 7. Ronald Jackson, Jr. then plunged in from three yards out to put the Eagles in front 14-7 with 10:03 to go in the second quarter.

Scotland mounted another incredible drive spanning 13 plays and crossing 57 yards before McQueen tied the game at 14 on a three-yard touchdown run with 4:05 to go in the half. Just under two minutes later, East Forsyth surged back in front 21-14 as Ty’Shaun Lyles hit Nick Childs for a 51-yard touchdown strike with 2:12 to go in the half.

Scotland sped down the field in the final two minutes of the half. The Scots ripped off a 66-yard drive in nine plays with Mandrell Johnson sliding in the end zone from two yards out with just two seconds to spare before halftime, tying the score at 21.

Both teams went scoreless through the third quarter, setting the stage for an explosive fourth quarter. Scotland pushed back in front as Joseph McKoy cashed in on a one-yard touchdown run to polish off an eight-play, 60-yard scoring drive and put Scotland up 28-21 with just 10:14 to play.

4A MVP Ty'Shaun Lyles
East Forsyth came alive in the final minutes as Lyles hooked up with Mizell Hall twice for scoring strikes to surge in front 35-28. The first of the two touchdown passes came as Lyles scrambled towards the right sideline, spotting Hall open in the middle of the field and throwing against his body to make the play. Hall pulled the lofted pass in and scampered the rest of the 22 yards into the end zone to tie the game at 28 with 6:03 to go. Then with 2:45 to play, Lyles spotted Hall uncovered in the formation and called for the snap before the play had even been relayed to his teammates, Hall pulled in the quick pass and scurried 14 yards into the left corner of the end zone to put the Eagles on top by the decisive 35-28 margin.

Lyles was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, completing 10 of his 17 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns including the game winner. Hall was the Eagles Most Outstanding Offensive Player with four receptions for 56 yards and the two game-altering scores. Javon Cobb was the leading tackler for East Forsyth, credited with 13 tackles on the game and chosen as East Forsyth’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

Kavon Green was selected as the Most Outstanding Defensive Player for the Scots. Green was tied for the team lead in tackles with four and also pulled in an interception, returning it 15 yards. Joseph McCoy was tapped as Scotland’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player, responsible for 104 rushing yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.

Story and photos courtesy of the NCHSAA

Tarboro Pulls Away in Second Half, Defeats East Surry 50-10

RALEIGH – The Tarboro Vikings pulled away with 36 second-half points to defeat East Surry 50-10 and win back-to-back state championships at the 1AA level.  The win gave the Vikings the program’s sixth state championship. The Vikings were dominant on the ground racking up 442 yards rushing while holding the Cardinals to zero yards rushing in the game.

East Surry jumped out to an early lead as Gunnar Jones recovered a Tarboro fumble and too it 18 yards to the end zone to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead with 4:02 to go in the first quarter. The Vikings answered on the ensuing possession driving 69 yards in six plays Kimani McDaniels capped off the drive with a 36-yard touchdown run with 47 seconds to go in the quarter to knot the score at 7.

Clifton Joyner, Jr. gave Tarboro their first lead of the game when he scored from 17 yards out on the ground with 8:34 to go in the second quarter. That capped a 29-yard drive took just five plays after a Keon Caudle punt return set Tarboro up with a short field. East Surry sliced into that lead, mounting a 16-play drive that chewed up 6:35 of the second quarter and culminated in a 24-yard field goal by Derek Sutterby to make it 14-10 Tarboro at the half.

1AA MVP Kimani McDaniels
The second half was all Vikings as McDaniels opened the third quarter by breaking a 65-yard run for a touchdown with 10:16 to go in the quarter. McDaniels long sprint made it 21-10. McDaniels finished the game with 112 yards rushing and two touchdowns as he was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Just three minutes after McDaniels long run, Joyner, Jr. found paydirt on a one-yard touchdown run to put the Vikings up 29-10 after the two-point conversion attempt was successful. Joyner, Jr. finished the game with 76 yards rushing on 12 carries with two touchdowns as he was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player for Tarboro.

Caudle added a touchdown late in the third quarter, crossing from 40 yards out with just 11 seconds to go in the quarter, putting Tarboro up 36-10. Jaquez Edge scored from four yards out with 9:47 to go in the game, punctuating a six-play, 56-yard drive and extending the Viking lead to 43-10. Caudle closed out the scoring with a 33-yard sprint to the end zone with 4:37 to go in the game to give the Vikings the final 50-10 margin.

Melik Ward was named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player for Tarboro as he racked up 8 tackles, including 2.5 sacks and 3 tackles for loss in the game. For East Surry, Hoyt Bullington led the team in tackles with 19 in the game, including three for loss as he was selected East Surry’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Jefferson Boaz was the Most Outstanding Offensive Player for East Surry, completing 10 of 20 passes for 122 yards and averaging 38.8 yards per punt.

Story and photos courtesy of NCHSAA

Shelby Wins Fifth Title in Six Years After 42-21 Win Over North Davidson

RALEIGH, NC - The Shelby Golden Lions jumped out to a 14-0 lead after one quarter and did not look back on their way to doubling up North Davidson 42-21 and winning the school’s tenth NCHSAA State Championship in football.

Sophomore linebacker Jack Hollifield got the festivities underway, intercepting a pass and returning it 93 yards for a touchdown with 6:23 to go in the first quarter, putting Shelby up 7-0. Hollifield was named the Golden Lions Most Outstanding Defensive Player with nine tackles, a tackle for loss, a pass break-up and the 93-yard interception return for a score.

The Golden Lion defense then forced a three-and-out on the ensuing Knights possession, and after a nice punt return, Shelby had exceptional field position to start their drive at the Knights 38. Diavonni Daley capped off the 5-play, 38-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown catch from Isaiah Bess to put the Lions in front 14-0.

Shelby kept the foot on the gas pedal to start the second quarter, as Daley hauled in a 22-yard pass from Bess to cap a nine-play, 54-yard drive and give the Lions a 21-0 advantage with 10:45 to play in the first half. Bess finished the contest with 192 yards and three touchdown passes as he completed 17 of his 26 pass attempts and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Daley hauled in six passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns as he was selected as Shelby’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player in the game.

North Davidson responded on their next possession, sprinting 72 yards in just 8 plays and two minutes. The Knights got on the board with Devon Welch’s three-yard touchdown plunge to trim the Shelby lead to 21-7 which is how the teams entered the locker room at the half.

2AA MVP Isaiah Bess
The Lions started to pull away for good with an 18-yard touchdown pass by Bess to Fabian Pettis with 2:15 to go in the third. That touchdown finished off a 10-play 63-yard drive that chewed up 4:07 of clock. The Knights answered right back with an 11-play drive of their own that went 50 yards and spanned 4:45 to cut the lead to 28-14 when Jackson Perrell scored on a three-yard touchdown run.

The two teams traded scores for the rest of the contest with Donye Fuller plunging in from a yard out for the Golden Lions before Gage Williams recovered a Shelby fumble, rumbling 15 yards for a score to trim the Shelby lead back to 14 at 35-21 and 4:48 to go. Jaylon Scott put the game away for the Golden Lions when he scored from one yard out to polish off a 9-play, 49-yard drive at the 1:15 mark of the final quarter.

The North Davidson defense was led by Blake Stephens who collected 10 tackles on the game including 3.5 sacks and 4 tackles for loss. He is also credited with a pass break-up and quarterback hurry in the game as he was named North Davidson’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player. The Knight was led by Themus Fulks who was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player for the Knights with eight receptions for 146 yards on the afternoon.

Story and photos courtesy of NCHSAA

Murphy Runs Away From Pamlico, 60-27, to Claim 1A Crown

DURHAM – The Murphy Bulldogs reeled off 21 first-quarter points on their way to a 60-27 victory over Pamlico County and the school’s ninth NCHSAA football state championship. The win was Head Coach David Gentry’s 406th career win, which is second all-time for Head Coaching wins in the NCHSAA.

Murphy’s defense got the scoring started when Micah Nelson recovered a Pamlico fumble and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown just 17 seconds into the game. The next possession for Murphy was after another Pamlico turnover, as the Bulldogs started at the Hurricane 34. Six plays later KJ Allen galloped five yards to the end zone and a 14-0 lead.

The Bulldogs built a huge advantage on the ground, racking up 479 yards to just 153 for Pamlico. Allen led the way for Murphy with 153 yards on 18 carries and four touchdowns as he was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Murphy’s Devonte Murray also added two touchdowns on his six carries with 106 yards.

Pamlico got on the board for the first time in the latter portion of the first quarter. Senior quarterback Lamont Murray settled into the game and was able to lead his team on a 12-play, 66-yard drive that took 5:28 off the first quarter clock. Murray capped the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run to trim the Murphy lead to 14-7 with 2:54 to go in the first. Four plays later, Murphy stretched their lead back out to 14 when Reid Beal hauled in an 18-yard pass from Micah Nelson with 1:47 to go in the first. Nelson was named Murphy’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player as he completed 3 of his 5 pass attempts for 42 yards and a touchdown while running for 49 yards on two carries.

The Bulldogs took a 21-7 lead into the half and came out ready to roll in the third quarter, adding two scores in the frame. Ray Rathburn scored from 11 yards out on the ground to go up 28-7. Five minutes later Allen ripped off a six-yard touchdown run for his second score of the night.

1A MVP KJ Allen
Pamlico did not quit despite trailing 35-7, after a long kickoff return into Murphy territory by Jarrod Ramsey, Murray bought time and found George Jones open over the middle for a 42-yard touchdown pass to make it 35-14 with under a minute to go in the third. Just three plays later, Murray raced 46 yards to the end zone for a touchdown, however, the point after failed and Murphy led 41-14.

Murray went back to work for Pamlico, finding room and sprinting for a 17-yard touchdown to make it 41-20 after the point after failed. After touchdown runs by the Bulldogs’ Murray and Allen made the score 54-20, Pamlico’s Murray launched another touchdown pass, this one from 18 yards out to La-Monti Lewis to trim the lead to 54-27.

Lamont Murray finished the night with 157 yards passing and two scores to go along with 79 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. He was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player for the Hurricanes for his efforts. William Lovick was the Hurricanes’ Most Outstanding Defensive Player as he tied for the team lead in tackles with nine. Hunter Shope took home Most Outstanding Defensive Player honors for Murphy, racking up nine tackles, 1.5 of them for a loss.

Story and photos courtesy of NCHSAA