Southern Vance vs. Shelby

Here’s the first installment…

RALEIGH — Southern Vance coach David Jennings was just one of 16 head coaches on hand at Carter-Finley Stadium Monday for the NCHSAA State Championship Press Conference Monday, and even though it was his first such gathering, he was all business.

And in the days leading up to his team’s Saturday date with the undefeated defending state champion Shelby Golden Lions, he’s not backing down from the challenge.

“The Southern Vance Raiders aren’t coming to Winston-Salem to watch a coronation,” he said. “They’re coming to play football. You better believe it. Shelby better be ready to play football. We’re not coming to watch someone raise a trophy, we’re coming to play football.”

If the Raiders (13-2) are indeed underdogs against the Lions (15-0), Shelby coach Chris Norman isn’t acting like it.

“They’re athletic,” he said. “Their quarterback reminds me of Lance Camp at Burns High School back in our county. He’s all-everything, setting county records in the playoffs. They run shotgun with a lot of motion and they do a good job of getting people open. The quarterback is so quick and fast. Our guys have seen people like that, but still, it’s different.

“And they don’t panic. They play from behind really well.”

The “Cardiac Raiders” have made a living by coming from behind in the postseason, erasing 16-0 and 19-0 deficits in back-to-back weeks against Northwood and Forest Hills. Jennings hopes that experience will pay off this weekend.

“The never-say-die attitude is a great aspect of our team,” he said. “It’s sort of our mantra. One thing I’m proud of our kids about is that they will play 48 minutes, whether they’re behind or ahead, and as a football coach, that’s all you can ask for.”

While the Raiders have the benefit of two recent rallies under their belts, Shelby has a different kind of experience.

The Golden Lions have played in the past two state title games, falling 49-21 to SouthWest Onslow in 2004 and knocking off Reidsville last year, 26-18.

“We’ve got a group of seniors that have been in big ball games,” Norman said. “I hope that they know how to respond. But there are still young guys, teenagers and it’s different. It’s a different experience, playing in a bigger stadium that they’ve seen on TV on Saturdays. You hope that, after a few minutes, they calm down and play football.”

Staying collected will be key for Southern Vance, making its first trip to the championships in school history.

“I think it’s finally sunk in that we’re going to do this,” Jennings said. “It’s a great honor playing in a state championship game. You never know if you’re ever going to get another chance to play in one, but hopefully with our program, we will.”

Contact the writer at rcapps@hendersondispatch.com.

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2 Responses to “Southern Vance vs. Shelby”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Go Raiders!!!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Underdogs or not, Southern is in the “game”. Shelby has the experience of being there before…but Southern will be there suited up and ready to play. Win or loose, you have now proven Vance County can play football!

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