Thursday, December 7, 2017

3AA Preview: New Hanover vs. AC Reynolds

When New Hanover and AC Reynolds matchup in the 3AA game this Saturday evening, it will be a matchup of two teams who seem to be mirror images of each other on the field. Both teams run a very balanced offense and even average within four total yards per game of each other. Each team also scores about 41 points per game.

Wallace Wade Stadium

The New Hanover Wildcats are looking to snap an 89-year drought in the state championship game. The 1927 and 1928 Wildcats won back-to-back titles while North Carolina was still playing open division football.

New Hanover is led on offense by quarterback Blake Walston, a junior who has thrown for almost 4,000 yards and 38 touchdowns. Walston has two 1,000-yard receivers that he likes to throw to. Cole Tanner has 41 catches so far this season, but Walston's main target this year has been senior wide receiver Wiz Vaughn. Vaughn has an amazing 85 receptions so far and he's looking for more this Saturday evening. The Wildcats will run the ball some as well and usually, it's sophomore Jabez Howard who's toting the rock for them, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.

Although the Wildcats had a few close matchups late in the playoffs, their defense played outstanding during conference play, gaining four shutouts and losing only to 4A state semifinalist Hoggard on the road to end the regular season.

For the western champion AC Reynolds Rockets, quarterback Alex Flinn has passed for 40 touchdowns against only eight interceptions. Flinn loves to find receiver Nathan St. Onge, who has an amazing 93 receptions for over 1000 yards.

Defensively, head coach Shane Laws believes his team needs to get after the Wildcats like they did many teams throughout the regular season. At one point in time during the regular season, the Rockets had three straight shutouts over conference opponents and Laws believes a performance like that will be necessary for the AC Reynolds to win their first state title since 2009.