With the 2015 high school football season getting closer by the day, the new season brings big expectations for a pair of county teams.
Last season, the Lakewood Leopards fell just one win short of reaching the 1A state championship game, and the Clinton Dark Horses fell just one win short of being crowned state champions.
The new season is bringing big expectations within the programs, as it usually does, but each of these teams are getting recognition in pre-season football polls in the state ranks.
According to NCPreps.com’s Baker’s Dozen 2015 Preseason Rankings, Lakewood enters the season 12th in the state in 1A football. The Leopards return a strong defensive team from last year’s team that lost at Plymouth in the Eastern Championship, and also return star quarterback, Zach Tanner, and star running back, Dillion Kinlock.
“This season for us, is win a state championship, or bust,” said Kinlock on the upcoming season. “We were so close last year, and just being that close made us realize that we could indeed do it. We now really know what we are capable of, and the sky’s the limit for us if we truly are able to play to our true potential.”
Leading the 1A Class ranks were Wallace-Rose Hill at number 1, and James Kenan at number two, seemingly the way it has been for a long time. Plymouth, the who defeated Lakewood in last year’s playoffs, enters the season at 5th in the state.
As for the Dark Horses, they enter the preseason ranked 3rd. Just ahead of them are East Lincoln at number 1, and last year’s state championship winners, over Clinton, the Shelby Golden Lions.
“In the past, we have had a theme of unfinished business when we’ve gone to the state championship the year before and not won,” said Clinton’s long-time head coach, Bob Lewis. “I’m not sure that it is this team’s motto or anything, but we definitely have a chance to do something special.”
As for Midway, Hobbton and Union, the remaining county teams that are a part of the NCHSAA, they will have to try and prove the predictors wrong. Each of these three programs have a great chance of showing improvement from last year.
Entering the 2015 Pigskin Jamboree, which is set for Aug. 14 at Clinton High School, there is sort of a buzz in the air about high school football, that the county has seemed to be lacking for a little while.