Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Charlotte vs. Fayetteville football? Who wins?

Got the same question today from two readers. Don't know if they were double teaming me, but sometimes an email makes for a good discussion topic, so here I am forwarding the discussion (hopefully).

Is Fayetteville football as good as Charlotte?

In past years, the answer was a resounding yes. Actually Fayetteville's brand was much better.

Charlotte has almost always been a hoops town. Sure, we would have a 1982 South Meck football power or a 1977 East Meck or the '80s and '90s West Charlotte with a sprinkling of a Steve Shaughnessy led South Meck team stuck in there every few years. Still, the bottom line was this: Charlotte usually had one good team, but not a passel of them.

Fayetteville has always been stocked. Then along in the middle '90s, something changed. Schools here started paying more attention. The Panthers came and football became more important. There were more camps and clinics and former pro players offering instruction.

Charlotte football raised its profile and actually overtook Fayetteville I'd say. Last year, Fayetteville stuck three teams in the 4A finals (plus Richmond Senior which plays in a Fayetteville league), an amazing achievement. Was that a one year deal?

I think Charlotte football is the best in the state top to bottom and I think the Southwestern 4A is the best conference in the state (the old ME-CA 7 was the best hoops conference and it'll be upgraded as the I-Meck, the league's new name, welcomes state power Lake Norman and jettisons two Concord teams which hadn't fared well in recent years).

The kind of football played here -- pass-happy, wide-open, fast -- is fun to watch and Charlotte has more quality skill players than any other area.

In the next few years, I think we'll see more talent come through here than ever before. The young kids, the middle school kids and the Pop Warner kids are simply incredible, winning national championships and playing in major all-star games, in droves, at young ages (same with basketball).

Someone asked me about a Fayetteville-Charlotte challenge. Take 3 or 4 teams from Fayetteville and line them up at Memorial Stadium against Charlotte teams. I think that might work, then you could switch it to somewhere down in Fayetteville the next year. I don't know if straight home-and-homes would work because of the distance (it's a HAUL from Charlotte to Fayetteville and everytime I go to cover a CMS team down there, which has been a few, there have been just a handful of fans who went with me).

But I tell you what, Charlotte's top four or five 4A teams would match up well against any other area in this state.

In fact, if there were an open state playoff and Charlotte wasn't knocking out Charlotte in the western playoffs all the time, I think it's safe to say you would have at least four instances in the past nine years when the 4A final would've been Charlotte vs. Charlotte.

In closing, let me say this: I'd love to see our privates, the Christians, Latins and Country Days of the Queen City, get some games with the Shelbys and Thomasvilles and other small school powers. I think more than anything Charlotte's private schools don't get their just desserts.

Maybe next time someone will ask me about North Carolina vs. South Carolina football.

That, to me, is the best debate for high school football.

-- Langston Wertz Jr.
lwertz@charlotteobserver.com
twitter.com/langstonwertzjr
facebook.com/langstonwertzjr

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting question, but the invite has always been out there for the publics to play the privates, and the publics continue to run from them. All of the Charlotte privates struggle to fill their schedules. Why? CMS administrators are chickens and a whole bunch of coaches are too, as they do not work for change. Outside of the metro area nothing is different. Privates go play them, beat them, and then no more games.

You should have asked the Fayetteville schools why they didn't seek to schedule Latin or Christian.

Until they do, everything is polling and a mystery.

Anonymous said...

Latin and Christain?? OMG...LOL Having played at WC in the late 80's early 90's...and having coached High School Football out in Fayetteville for 8 years, I can honestly say, this would be a challenge the folks in Fayetteville wouldn't mind take'n up. They feel they play the best football in the state in that area, and I would have to agree. The Pride they have in Football there is different than Charlotte. And they have LOADS of talented players that drift in and out of town, being a Military Community. I would love to watch Jack Britt, 71st, Southview, Byrd, EE Smith, even Pine Forest or Westover, come out here and play Indy, WC, Butler, or even Latin. They love Smashmouth and have proven it through the years that they play GOOD FOOTBALL in that area. We lost to 71st while I was at WC. Knuckles and the crew lost to Southview. Who many brag, was the third place team in their conference that year, while WC was ranked in the nation.

Anonymous said...

And the coaches there are have more "Longevity". Like Paroli, and Butts, and Ledford, who have been coaching in the area for decades. The school system there backs the programs and the coaches better than they do in Charlotte. And you can look at the neighbors the Fayetteville Teams Bump heads with on the regular. Richmond, Scotland, The Clinton Darkhorses, Greenville Rose. It's just a fun football atmosphere EVERY friday night out that way.

Anonymous said...

Langston-

As you know Country Day has in the past played schools such as Crest and Rock Hill Northwestern, which are on the same level as some of the schools you mention the privates playing. And I believe (but could be wrong), Country Day beat Crest twice (may be only once), split their series against Northwestern with the loss coming by 2 points. I'm sure Latin would have similar results. Not so sure about Christian or Providence Day. Christian has had one good year and look like they should have another good one this year, but it's to be seen if that's sustainable or just a few good classes coming through.

Anonymous said...

I graduated from 71st in 1987. I was on that State Championship team that beat West Charlotte in the rain, in Fayetteville. I came to Charlotte in 87 on a football scholarship to play at JCSU. That being said, I've always had the bias that Fayetteville always had the better talent and fans. There are coaches that don't want to play 71st, Britt, Southview, Smith, Richmond, Scotland or Byrd. The biggest problem Fayetteville has, they are their own worst enemy. When you have these teams on your schedule, each game is like a playoff game. The big game each year in Charlotte is Indy & Butler. In Charlotte, you can lose 4 games and get in the playoffs. You can lose 3 in Fayetteville and sit at home.

Eric Wright
Class of 1987 - 71st High
Mint Hill, NC

Anonymous said...

I can also attest to the tremendous talent and competition in the Mid-south 4A. I am a '87graduate of E.E. Smith. I also went on to JCSU on a football scholarship. We lost to 71st that year by a field goal in the closing minutes. They then went on to win State with a last minute field goal. By the way we went 8-2 and did not make the play-off cut. That My friend is the result of fierce competiton.

Lilton Marks (GoldenBull 4 Life!!!)
E.E.Smith goldenbulls
JCSU goldenbulls
Atlanta, Ga.

Shawn Bridges said...

I played against some powerful Fayetteville teams back in the last 80s', plus Richmond and Scotland County were in my conference. 71st, Douglas Byrd, Richmond, and Scotland County were the big dogs in the state of NC point blank. Sure, West Charlotte made it to the finals, but fell to 71st. Where was Independence then? The only team making any noise in Mecklenburg County WAS West Charlotte, as compared to six or seven powerhouses in the Cumberland County area.

I personally feel that growth in the area of Fayetteville hurt those traditional powerhouses in recent years. With the construction of new schools such as Jack Britt for example, the talent bases were then spread out, making the Cumberland County teams more even than ever before. Teams like Richmond and Scotland County, which booasts only one high school in their entire counties, have continued to compete at a high level year in and year out, especially Richmond.

So to say who wins........my vote would be Fayetteville football.

Anonymous said...

Fayetville? where is that, Georgia? Theres a reason its called Failitville. Whens the last title from that little town in the boondocks? and btw, this isnt the 80's.