CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - Vance High School finally got the football state championship it coveted.
The Cougars’ defense dominated a Leesville Road team that was averaging nearly 35 points per game in the N.C. 4AA state final Saturday at Kenan Stadium.
After losing 9-7 to Wake Forest in the 2018 state final, Vance won emphatically 24-3 to win the first state championship in school history.
Leesville Road (13-1) had 80 yards total offense, and Vance forced five turnovers.
“It feels outstanding,” Vance junior linebacker Power Echols said. “It’s a testament to all our hard work. It’s a emotional win for us, for all the things we’ve been through, especially for my three years here. It’s an amazing way to finish the season. I can’t describe it words. It’s just ... it’s just an outstanding win.”
Echols and the Vance defense were constantly in the Leesville Road backfield, blowing up Pride first-year coach Ben Kolstad’s game plan.
Kolstad had seen Vance’s speed on film and knew long drives would be hard to manufacture. He thought his team could score on quick strikes. But it just didn’t happen.
“They’re good,” Kolstad said. “They definitely good. They’ve got real good personnel and they use their personnel well. They bring the house every single play. They play press man and they don’t get beat a whole lot. And when they did get beat, we had a couple when we caught a pass, and they tackled him right away. Their speed and their physical play are tough to go against.”
Vance (13-2) won its fifth straight playoff game on the road. The Cougars beat three-time state champion Butler 21-0 and followed that up by beating the top three seeds in the western half of the playoff draw — allowing just 21 points total to Mallard Creek, West Forsyth and Richmond Senior.
In five playoff games, against some of the state’s best teams, Vance allowed 24 points.
That’s why the Cougars became the first Mecklenburg County team since Mallard Creek in 2015 to win the 4AA championship.
“This feels great,” Vance senior linebacker Stefon Thompson said. “We lost one last year and to came back and got this one this year.”