Friday, December 14, 2018

Shelby Takes on North Davidson in Matchup of Powerful Offense Against Stingy Defense

In a classic case of offense versus defense, this year's 2018 state championship game between North Davidson and Shelby is sure to be a battle of two opposing styles. Both teams come into this year's state title game coming off wins that were revenge wins of sorts in the regional finals last Friday night. Shelby avenged their loss in last year's regional final against Hibriten by knocking off the defending state champions while North Davidson defeated Ledford in a rematch of this year's regular-season finale and Central Carolina conference title game which Ledford had won 9-7.

For North Davidson, this has definitely been a season to remember. Coach Brian Flynn's Black Knights are 13-2 and in the NCHSAA state title game for the first time in school history. A feature of the North Davidson team that many of their opponents have fallen prey to has been the strong Black Knights' defense, a defense which has shut out seven opponents this year and only given up 103 points in their fifteen games. Two standout defensive players for North Davidson are Evan Vanmeter and Maddox Johnson, who each has over 115 tackles this season for the Black Knights.

But the Black Knights are not a team that gets by on a strong defense alone. The North Davidson offense has gone over the 40-point mark nine times this season. For North Davidson to get in the end zone this Saturday, Themus Fulks is going to have to have a big day. His eighty-nine receptions and sixteen touchdowns are a big reason why North Davidson has made it to the state title game. If somehow Shelby could shut Fulks down, Kobe Brown will be there to run it in on the ground, completing a balanced offensive attack for North Davidson.

While this is North Davidson's first trip to a state title game, the Shelby Golden Lions are quite familiar with playing at this point in time in the month of December. The Golden Lions are gunning for their tenth NCHSAA state championship and fifteenth overall title when considering the old WNCHSAA championships. A win on Saturday would mean five state championships in the last six years for Lance Ware's Golden Lions, a streak never seen in all of Shelby's rich football tradition.

Shelby quarterback Isaiah Best leads a potent air attack for the Golden Lions and has passed for over 3,500 yards this season. Jaylon Scott, Jack Hollifield, and Nick Stites have played tremendous roles in helping this year's Shelby team overcome and 0-3 start after three losses on the road to 3A teams. The Golden Lions have won eleven straight since this early season hiccup, starting with upsetting another 3A power, Kings Mountain, at home right as Hurricane Florence came rolling through in mid-September.

An interesting note in that this is not the first time that North Davidson and Shelby have matched up in a title game. Back in 1975, the Black Knights and Golden Lions faced off in the old WNCHSAA title game, playing to a 21-21 draw. A win on Saturday would mean a little something extra to the players on those 1975 teams.