Eastern Guilford took an early lead on the first play from scrimmage, but ultimately it was Weddington’s defense that won the day as the Warriors managed a a 33-20 victory in the 3AA State Title game. It was the school’s first football championship in two appearances in the finals.
The Wildcats struck first on an 80-yard touchdown pass to Nic Cheeley from Dominique Graves on the first play from scrimmage. Weddington struck back to tie the game on the final play of the first quarter when James Shipley hauled in a pass for 47 yards and a score from Warrior QB David Bayha.
Eastern Guilford took the lead back just three plays later when Bryant Barr went streaking 40 yards for a score to give the Wildcats a 14-7 lead with 10:45 to play in the first half. The next two scores went to Weddington as Bayha found Max Brimigion from 47 yards out to tie the game at 14 with 8:57 to go in the half. Then Denzel Patton capped off a 9-play, 60-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Warriors their first lead of the game with 3:04 to go in the half.
In the second half, Weddington extended the lead as Bayha threw his third and final touchdown of the game to Richie Laughlin, covering 27 yards and putting the Warriors up 27-14 with 4:07 to go in the third quarter after the point-after failed.
Then a short punt set the Warriors up with a short field and after four plays and 37 yards Chase Randolph found pay-dirt to give the Warriors a 33-14 advantage with 1:07 to go in the third.
Eastern Guilford tried to claw back into the game in the fourth quarter as Bryant Barr hit Zaccheus Milton for a 24-yard strike and score. The two-point conversion attempt failed leaving the Wildcats down 33-20 with 5:55 to go.
The Warriors won the ground battle offensively, rolling up 173 yards rushing while only allowing 105 by the Wildcats. Weddington held a 356 to 259-yard edge in total offense. Bayha was named the game’s M.V.P. with a 10 for 17 performance for 183 yards and three touchdowns through the air. He also rushed 13 times for 74 yards on the afternoon.
Eastern Guilford concluded the year 15-1, champions of the Mid-State 3A Conference. The Wildcats made their first appearance in an NCHSAA Football State Championship game.
Weddington ended the year 13-3, champions of the Southern Carolina 3A Conference for the first time in school history. The State Title was Weddington’s first in two appearances in the State Finals.