New Hanover won the Mideastern Conference football title outright for the first time since 1994 with a perfect 6-0 conference record.
The streaking Wildcats, who have won seven in a row, took their potent offense to Southport Friday night and routed South Brunswick 48 – 0.
“It was a complete game for us,” said New Hanover Head Coach Earl Smith.
With a balanced offense led by senior quarterback Burke Estes, six different Wildcats reached the endzone. Junior running back Keegan Santos had two touchdowns, while Bradley Shackleford, Traquan Age, Javeon Hall, Garrett Walston and Malcolm Hill had one apiece.
“It goes back to Burke Estes, our quarterback. He does a great job of reading receivers,” said Smith, who also praised the guys standing in front of Estes. “Our offensive line does a good job of giving Burke time to throw the football, and every one of our receivers is a threat.”
New Hanover Offensive Coordinator Darryl Raynor agreed, saying that protection, as well as veteran leadership, has been key.
“It starts with our offensive line,” Raynor said. “We have a senior offensive line that’s come together.”
Smith also gave credit to his defense. Led by senior safety Ronnie Beatty, they tallied four interceptions on their way to shutting out the Cougars, who were winless this season in the Mideastern Conference. After taking a commanding 34-0 lead at the half, Smith pulled his starters to prevent injuries and gave his backups some playing time.
The Wildcats, who finished with an overall record of 9-2, await their playoff seeding and opponent. The New Hanover coaches intend to have their team ready no matter who they draw.
“We just got to get healed up and do the things we’re supposed to do and win another game on Friday,” Raynor said.
“Now there’s no second chances,” said Smith.
Hoggard 17, Topsail 0
After a scoreless first quarter, the Vikings scored a field goal with 8:27 left to go in the second quarter and never looked back, blanking the Pirates in Hampstead.
“It was a great team win tonight,” said Hoggard Head Coach Craig Underwood. “All three phases of the game worked really hard.”
Underwood, whose team finished second in the conference with a 5-1 record, said he was especially pleased with his defensive line led by seniors Omar Jones, Donte Bryant, Daniel Brunson and Antonio Moore.
“I’m very proud of those guys leading the way to a shut out victory,” Underwood said.
The Vikings ended the season with an overall record of 7-4, earning a postseason berth.
“We’re excited about the playoffs,” said Underwood. “It’s a new season, so we’ll see what we can do.”
Topsail, who played a tough game against New Hanover last week, finished the season with a 2-4 record in the Mideastern Conference and a 5-6 record overall.