Brown in round 2 here Friday

Published 10:22 am Friday, November 25, 2016

When Davie and Kannapolis A.L. Brown collide at War Eagle Stadium in the second round of the 4A playoffs Friday night at 7:30, it will be a matchup of two programs where football is seemingly more important than whether the sun rises in the morning.

The Wonders will bring a terrific crowd. They’re an iconic program. They went on a reign of terror in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, winning 3-A state champions in 1989 and 1997 and finishing as 3-A runner-ups in 1984, 1991 and 2008. They’ve remained a consistent power through the 2000s. Their last losing season was 1977. A 6-6 finish in 2014 put a dent in their mystique, but they bounced back in 2015 and they’re 9-3 now as they’ve secured the 38th winning season in 39 years.

“We have a rich tradition of football,” Brown’s sixth-year coach, Mike Newsome, told the Winston-Salem Journal. “I think kids now don’t look at that so much. Our community takes the tradition to heart, and our kids do too to a certain extent. But I don’t think that tradition means as much to kids nowadays as maybe uniforms do or wearing Nike cleats.”

The War Eagles are on a remarkable run. The No. 1 seed in the 4A West, they are 11-1 with a nine-game winning streak.

Here’s a game-by-game look at the Wonders’ season: They won 31-19 over Concord, which finished 8-4. In the opener, they lost their starting quarterback to a season-ending injury. They won 65-7 over South Rowan (1-10) and 48-0 over Northwest Cabarrus (2-9). They lost 23-21 to Mooresville (8-4). They won 35-12 over North Mecklenburg (3-8), 24-21 over Vance (11-1 and still alive) and 17-14 over Jay M. Robinson (10-2 and still alive). They lost 21-7 to Hough (7-5) and 24-7 to Mallard Creek (9-2 and still alive). They closed the regular season with wins of 23-14 over West Charlotte (2-9) and 55-6 over Hopewell (1-10).

Hopewell is the one common opponent. With Chris Reynolds and Cooper Wall sidelined, Davie beat Hopewell 37-12.

In the first round at Glenn, No. 5 Kannapolis held off a late Bobcat rally, 37-29, to knock out the fourth seed. The Wonders did allow a season-high 29 points to Glenn (8-4).

At full strength, Davie’s offense has been nothing less than stellar, averaging 33 points a game. But Reynolds and Co. will be tested against the Wonders, who give up 15.8 points on average. Their defense is fast and extremely athletic. They are led by senior linebackers Sherard Sutton and Steven Howie.

Senior quarterback Zacc Williamson has been a game manager for a Kannapolis offense that is more jeep than Jaguar. He’s 66 of 134 for 950 passing yards, an average of 86 per game. Its No. 1 receiver has a mere 20 catches. The ground is where the Wonders flourish. It’s a running-back-by-committee attack, with six backs having between 213 and 588 rushing yards. It has rushed for 2,567 yards and 34 TDs on the year while averaging 6.3 yards per carry.

Notes: Davie has not reached the quarterfinals since 2010, when it made an incredible march to the 4A final. … Davie has never beaten Kannapolis, going 0-5, although this will be the first meeting in 28 years. … The first meeting came in Davie’s first-ever NCHSAA playoff game in 1984. A Kannapolis powerhouse led by Tracy Johnson (Clemson/NFL) and James Lott (Clemson) blanked Davie 25-0 and eventually lost to Tarboro in the 3-A final. … As CPC rivals, Davie lost to Kannapolis 28-13 in 1985, 35-7 in 1986, 28-7 in 1987 and 21-13 in 1988.