BACK TO BACK: Warriors Beat Lee County to Win Second Conseutive State Title

THEY’VE DONE IT. Your Weddington Warriors are 3AA state champs! The Warriors and their faithful fans traveled almost three hours to face the Lee County Yellow Jackets at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh. The stands were filled with fans dressed out in green ready to cheer their team to victory.

The Warriors won the coin toss and deferred, giving Lee County the ball first. A quick three-and-out gave the Weddington offense the ball. 

This drive, it was all Shipley. Every single snap, whether it be a run or pass, went to him. Once the Warriors got into the red zone, the star junior running back capped off the drive with a direct snap that he took for three yards to the endzone. With 8:20 remaining and Ian Williams ́ kick into the bleachers, the Warriors took a 7-0 lead.

Following a tough first drive, Lee County started driving downfield. They got to the one-yard line as the first quarter wound down. The short break gave the Yellow Jackets extra time to come up with a game-defining play. After a stop on third down, head coach Steve Burdeau had no choice but to go for the touchdown to keep his team in the game. Not only did the Warrior defense prevent the score, but Alec Mock also picked off Colin Johnson to start the Weddington drive at their own 20.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, the offense fell just short of putting more points on the board. It didn’t take long for special teams to get some points of their own. A quick three-and-out by Lee County forced a punt. Senior Malik Mustapha blocked the punt and ran the ball back about 30 yards, putting Weddington up 14-0 with 5:42 left in the half.

Another three-and-out forced by the powerful Weddington defense prompted a punt. Senior Colby Barsz signaled for a fair catch, and the new drive started at the Weddington 33. The very first play, Shipley once again took the ball to his favorite place: the end zone. The 67-yard run and the extra point put Weddington up 21-0 with 4:26 in the half.

Lee County’s next drive got them in the game. Following a deep 25-yard pass, Johnson called his own number and ran the ball one yard into the end zone. With a good kick, the score was 21-7 with 1:09 left in the quarter.

The Warriors started to put a drive together in the final minute but scoring came up just short as Williams missed a 40-yard field goal as time expired.

At the beginning of the half and to keep the game close, Lee County attempted an onside kick, but the quick Warrior special teams recovered the ball at their own 47. An incomplete pass and a two-yard run for Shipley was followed by an interception at midfield. 

This was the point in the game where the Weddington faithful tensed up. The Yellow Jackets converted on a fourth and three, putting them at the Warrior 45. Following a quick one-yard run, Johnson flung the ball 44 yards downfield to Jayden Chalmers for a touchdown, cutting the Weddington lead to one score. With 8:28 left in the third, it was 21-14.

In order to make sure the strong offense didn’t get the ball back, Lee County tried an onside kick. This time, the Yellow Jackets recovered the ball at the Weddington 47. Staying to true form, the Warrior defense held Lee County to a three-and-out and forced a punt.

The next three drives, both defenses controlled the opposing offenses, with three straight punts forced. It wasn’t until Weddington’s third drive of the half that points were put on the board. Following a blocked punt by Riley Garden, the ball was at the Lee County 38, setting up excellent field position. After two runs by Shipley for a total of 33 yards and a penalty on Lee County, Shipley continued his stellar night with a two-yard touchdown run. A blocked kick put Weddington up 27-14 with 2:36 left in the quarter.

On that drive, Will Shipley reached his goal of 2,000 rushing yards on the season. When asked about the feeling of reaching that feat, the five-star recruit says, “It felt good. It’s a goal I’ve had since I got into high school, so to finally reach it was a great feeling.” Shipley went on to thank the offensive line due to their help finding holes in the defense, making this achievement possible.

The clock wound down during Lee County ́s next drive. As the marching band began to play “The Final Countdown”, Weddington fans started getting excited. There was no score until Weddington’s fifth drive of the half. Once again, the drive focused on Will Shipley. For the final score of the game, Shipley ran the ball 22 yards to the endzone. Williams’s kick went through the posts and put the score at 34-14 with 3:02 left in the game.

That would be your final score. As time expired, Warrior players stormed the field and celebrated.

Following the celebration, awards were given out. Alec Mock, who played through the second half with a broken nose, took home the defensive MVP. When it came to Offensive MVP and Overall MVP, there was only one choice: Will Shipley. “It was great,” says Shipley. “You know, last year with my brother winning the MVP, I kinda wanted to, it was just something I wanted and it was a goal I had coming into the game and winning comes first, but I was just going to do whatever I could to help the team win and I ended up getting Offensive and Overall MVP. I was just glad that I could receive those awards, but also just win in doing so.”

And that closes out the 2019 Football Season.