Published: 12:53 AM, Sat Nov 06, 2010
Seventy-First rallies past South View to claim first conference title since 1993
The last two coaches to earn Seventy-First outright conference football titles walked off the field almost simultaneously Friday night after the Falcons beat South View 28-7.
But there was considerable distance in the time span between those championships, 21 years.
Bob Paroli won his first Mid-South Conference title at Seventy-First with the win over South View.
Seventy-First finished 10-1 overall, 6-0 in the league and will be a candidate for a No. 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs when the N.C. High School Athletic Association announces its playoff brackets late this afternoon.
Despite the loss, South View will also go to the playoffs. The Tigers finished in a three-way tie with Terry Sanford and E.E. Smith, then won a draw for the third and final automatic berth from the conference in the playoffs.
South View is 4-7 overall, 3-3 in the league.
"For the most part, our kids are blue-collar football players,'' Paroli said. "I've always contended you can't win without the blue-collar kid.
"It's amazing what they've done, especially over the last 10 weeks.''
First title since 1998
The Falcons lost their season opener with Scotland and have since won 10 in a row.
It was Paroli's first league title since 1998, when he was still coaching at Douglas Byrd.
Ray Bloomfield, now an assistant on Paroli's staff, was the Falcons' head coach in 1989 for their last outright league title.
The Falcons earned a piece of the title in a four-way tie in 1993, but lost on tiebreakers and didn't qualify for the state playoffs.
Friday's clinching win didn't come easily for the Falcons.
South View's defensive line whipped the Falcons in the first half, and the Tiger clung to a surprising 7-6 halftime lead.
But as often has been the case this year, Maurice Scruggs provided the spark to bring the Falcons to life.
His 58-yard pass interception return set up his own 1-yard touchdown run. Kendall Lindsey passed to Scruggs for two and the Falcons took the lead for good, 14-7.
"We were just thinking too hard,'' Scruggs said of the Falcons' poor showing in the first half. "We just needed to play hard instead of thinking.''
Scruggs said the Falcons were also a little down with star linebacker John Brown out of the lineup. Paroli said Brown was suffering from a stomach virus Friday and couldn't even get out of bed. He's expected to be back for the playoffs next week, Paroli said.
Barely a minute later, after his first touchdown, Scruggs fielded a South View punt, followed good blocking down the sideline and raced 62 yards to score.
That left the Falcons ahead 20-7 and all but put the win away.
"It would have been better if we had won our way in, but our kids will be excited about it and keep working hard,'' South View coach Randy Ledford said of landing a playoff bid. "As young as we are, every extra game we get will help us get better.''
Scholastic sports editor Earl Vaughan Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3519.