Asheville School’s Malik Risher returned a kickoff 90 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with four minutes left.
It came 14 seconds after SouthLake Christian’s Sasha Robertson kicked a 25-yard field goal that gave the Eagles a 17-14 lead.
SouthLake Christian fell behind 14-0 in the first half but rallied to take the lead after Sam Hatfield’s 11-yard touchdown catch from Randy Schroeder, a 20-yard scoring run from Alex Rose and Robertson’s field goal.
Asheville School’s victory avenged a 27-14 loss to SouthLake during the regular season.
The Eagles’ Adam Gilkerson finished with 1,060 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns on 178 carries. Schroeder passed for 1,910 yards and 22 touchdowns, and his top target was Demitri Allison (48 receptions, 1,004 yards and 16 touchdowns).
The Eagles defense was led by end Taylor Jurney, who had 70 tackles and 18 sacks, tackle Scott Richardson (82 tackles and 14 sacks) and linebackers Brian Jones (68 tackles) and Dylan Silinski (51 tackles).
Andre Diouf had a team-high nine interceptions, followed by Sam Hatfield’s seven and Allison’s six.
The Eagles finished the season with a 10-2 overall record.
Hopewell falls in second round
Hopewell High was eliminated from the N.C. 4A playoffs with a 35-28 loss at Monroe Sun Valley on Nov. 11.
The Titans were trying to become the first team in the school’s 11-year history to win a second-round playoff game. They rallied in the second half, but couldn’t overcome the 27-7 lead Sun Valley had built.
Hopewell finished 5-7 in its first season under coach David Johnson, who was hired just before summer practice began.
Chandler Chase, a senior quarterback, threw three touchdown passes and ran for another against Sun Valley. Chase’s scoring passes covered 66 and 80 yards to running back Denzel Heath, and a 68-yarder to wide out Dominique Heath.
Her vision, her game ball
Coach Chad Grier handed out one game ball as his Davidson Day football team gathered near the end zone following its 41-26 victory over Fayetteville Trinity Christian in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III championship game.
“This isn’t for a coach, or a player,” Grier said, holding the ball aloft. “This is for the person who had a vision of what this (football) program could be.”
He then presented the ball to Bonnie Cotter, Davidson Day’s Head of School. She was quickly engulfed by players, coaches and Patriots fans.
Patriots pepper all-state team
Seven Davidson Day players were named to the NCISAA Division III all-state football team, including linebacker/center Tre Hunt, receiver/defensive end Aaron Seward, receiver/linebacker Evan Gates, running back/defensive back Jordan Young, running back/defensive back Jordan Brown, quarterback Will Grier, and linebacker/tight end Lamar Briggs.
Keeping others in their thoughts
At the state championship game, Davidson Day players had two new stickers on the back of their helmets. There was a “JI” sticker to honor the life of James Illing, the late father of Patriots assistant coach Chad Illing, and a green ribbon sticker to honor schoolmate Brendan Rodriguez, who is battling cancer.