Powerhouse programs meet in state football title games

A rematch in A1 is among the four championship games

Caleb Reid, pictured in last season’s championship game, and Mount Airy will look to repeat when they face Tarboro in a rematch of last year’s 1A state title game. (PJ Ward-Brown / North State Journal)

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association state football playoffs will come to an end this weekend when eight teams play across four divisions, with two games each at the homes of NC State and UNC football.

4A: No. 3 Hoggard (14-1) vs.  No. 1 Weddington (13-2)
Carter-Finley Stadium • Raleigh • Saturday, Dec. 9, 7 p.m.

Three-time 3A champion Weddington will look for its first 4A state title when the top-seeded Warriors face No. 3 Hoggard on Saturday night in Raleigh.

Weddington is led by senior Tyler Budge, a dual-threat quarterback for the Union County school. The Warriors won 3A titles in 2016, 2018 and 2019 after losing its first championship game appearance in 2014.

The Vikings lost their season opener but have reeled off 14 straight wins since, beating Cardinal Gibbons last week to advance to the title game. Now Hoggard — which won it all in 2007 — will aim for its second state title. The veteran Vikings avenged their only loss of the season by winning a rematch against Cleveland, 51-35, in a Nov. 24 playoff game.

3A: No. 2 Seventy-First (15-0) vs. No. 2 Hickory (15-0)
Kenan Memorial Stadium • Chapel Hill • Friday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m.

Two No. 2 seeds with 15-0 records will meet for the 3A title when Seventy-First and Hickory play the first of four high school championship games Friday in Chapel Hill. Seventy-First beat Northern Nash — which handed the Falcons a one-point loss last postseason — to advance to the title game.

While Seventy-First is looking for its fourth state title, Hickory will play in just its second championship game. The unbeaten Red Tornadoes won in 1996 and got late-game heroics to advance to this year’s final game. Quarterback Brady Stober threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jamien Little with 96 seconds left to push Hickory ahead by one despite failing the two-point conversion.

2A: No. 1 Clinton (15-0) vs. No. 1 Reidsville (14-1)
Carter-Finley Stadium• Raleigh • Saturday, Dec. 9, 3 p.m.

Reidsville will play for a state championship for the seventh time in eight years when the Rams face fellow No. 1 seed Clinton in the 2A championship game Saturday in Raleigh. Reidsville handed Shelby — another regular in state title games — a 49-14 defeat to advance. The Rams lost to East Duplin in last year’s championship game but have won four titles since 2016.

Waiting for Reidsville at the other side of the bracket is unbeaten Clinton. The Dark Horses, who advanced to the championship game despite being without injured running back Josiah McLaurin since the second round of the playoffs, beat Northeastern 36-22 last week. Clinton has averaged 51.3 points per game this season and wasn’t held under 40 until last week.

1A: No. 1 Tarboro (13-0) vs. No. 2 Mount Airy (15-0)
Kenan Memorial Stadium • Chapel Hill • Saturday, Dec. 9, noon

Powerhouse Tarboro is back in the 1A state championship game for the seventh straight year, and the Vikings will get a rematch with fellow unbeaten Mount Airy on Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill.

The Granite Bears beat Tarboro 20-7 last season to avenge a 2017 championship game loss to the Vikings. Tarboro allowed double-digit points for just the fourth time in 13 games this season in its 49-12 rout of West Columbus in the semifinal game.

Mount Airy rallied from behind last week at Robbinsville, scoring the final 13 points to win 27-16 and reach the title game. Senior quarterback Ian Gallimore rushed for two touchdowns to power the Granite Bears, who are looking for a ninth championship in their 14th appearance.