12/05/06 — Kenan ready for title game

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Kenan ready for title game

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 5, 2006 1:47 PM

RALEIGH -- Charlie Adams sat quietly at the head table and scanned the faces attending Monday's annual N.C. High School Athletic Association football championship press conference.

Adams, the NCHSAA Executive Director, saw numerous familiar faces. He also acknowledged those teams that had missed a few years, and extended a hearty greeting to those programs making their first-ever appearance.

"We've got a lot of you who are here on a perennial basis. Your programs are strong and you've got great community support," said Adams. "There are several of you making your first trip here and others making trips after missing (the state final) for some time.

"This is probably the most-exciting week that we have in the year. We've got a tremendous array of football talent, outstanding coaches, great teams (and) wonderful community support (here today)."

Seven schools put their 2005 state titles on the line Saturday -- J.H. Rose (4-A), Charlotte Independence (4-AA), Charlotte Catholic (3-AA), Shelby (2-AA), Clinton (2-A), Thomasville (1-AA) and Elkin (1-A). Independence is seeking an unprecedented seventh consecutive championship, while Thomasville and Catholic are going after "three-peats." Thomasville is the two-time defending title holder. Catholic won the 2-AA crown in 2004 before moving to 3-A a year ago.

"It never gets old," said Thomasville coach Benji Brown. "It takes a lot of work to get to this point. We'll try to prepare for this game just like we have for any other (game) this year."

Thomasville puts its 34-game win streak on the line against James Kenan, which is making its first championship appearance since 1960. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at Kenan Stadium on the UNC Chapel Hill campus.

"It's been a long time and the community is excited ... buzzing big time," said James Kenan athletics director Ronnie Batts, who was a seventh-grader when the Tigers won their only state title in 1960.

James Kenan and Thomasville are two of six unbeaten teams remaining statewide. Manteo is 15-0 and returning to the state final for the first time since 1974. Veteran coach Walt Davis leads the Redskins and is making his first trip since 1982 when Bath lost to Robbinsville in the 1-A championship.

Shelby, J.H. Rose and Independence are each 15-0.

Either two-time 3-A runner-up Western Alamance or Concord will emerge the new 3-A champion this season. Concord won 3-A title in 2004, while Western Alamance has been snakebitten on its previous two trips to the finals.

"This is our third time here and we've yet to win," said Western Alamance coach Hal Capps. "If anyone knows where I can buy a few lucky leprechauns ..."

The eight football championships will take place at four college venues. The 1-A and 1-AA finals are slated for UNC Chapel Hill. The 2-A and 2-AA finals will be played at Groves Stadium in Winston-Salem. The 3-A and 3-AA finals are slated for Carter-Finley Stadium, while the 4-A and 4-AA championships will be contested at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham.

BB&T is the corporate sponsor of the championships.