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Fall high school football returns to North Carolina, but it will bring some big challenges to Charlotte Catholic

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 7:23 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A beautiful sound echoed through the high school football practice fields of North Carolina. Whistles blowing, coaches yelling, quarterbacks giving the cadence to start the play-- yes, the sights and sounds of football were back.

“It just feels like it’s normal again,” said Charlotte Catholic senior Jimmy Brewer.

Plenty of smiles were on the faces of student-athletes as they took the practice field at 7:00 A.M. early Monday morning at Catholic. It was a totally different feel at this point last year when we didn’t know whether there was going to be a season or not. The season eventually got pushed to the spring with limited fans in attendance, but a return to the fall will hopefully make the Friday night experience a special one once again at Oddo Field.

“Especially after not being able to have as many people come to the games last year with the mask mandate,” said senior tight end Robert McKernan. “But now that everyone can come out, I think we are going to have big turn outs for these games and I think they are going to be excited with what they see,”

It’s a new season and a new challenge for Charlotte Catholic. The Cougars have won 4 straight 3A state titles, but this season, the NCHSAA is realigning each classification. Due to a rise in its enrollment, the Cougars are now in 4A.

Catholic will be one of the smallest 4A schools in the state. That means the teams they face will be a little bigger and deeper in numbers. But hey, the show must go on and don’t forget from 2013-16, the Cougars were in 4A. In that time, they went to the regional finals all 4 years, played for a state title twice and won it all in 2015 with a perfect 15-0 record.

“I think that goes to show that this organization can play in any conference they put us in,” said McKernan.

“It’s going to be a different level and a challenge,” said coach Mike Brodowicz. “We have to be more succinct in our blocking. That’s what the wing-t does. It allows you to play with smaller guys and block with angles. And defense, we are going to have to be more aggressive. Holding the point is going to be a lot harder, but our kids love the challenge. I’m excited about trying to win a 4A championship. We’ll be ready to play.”

The Cougars just wrapped up the spring season on May 8th as they won that 3A title. August 2nd, they are back at it. One positive in that, the playbook is still pretty fresh in their minds, but with not much time for offseason weight training, coach has a few worries about health-- especially with the move up in classification.

“We missed a whole weightlifting season,” said coach. “We had one 10 week rotation so physically, I’m a little worried about how we hold up. These young men are still growing. They look like grown men but they are still 16, 17, and 18 years old. You go back to the fact that we’re going to play 4A level. Not complaining-- I’m looking forward to the challenge, but I just worry for the safety of our kids, but we’ll go up there and we’ll be ready to play.”

“There are going to be better teams and bigger athletes and I think that’s just the challenge we have to take head on,” said Brewer. “I mean we’ve done it for 4 years in a row and I feel like we are going to be able to do that at the next level. The step is there and the challenge is there and we’re going to take it head on.”

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