Inclement weather will affect the high school football season in North Carolina one last time, ahead of state title games this weekend.
On Monday, school districts in the area announced closures following a winter storm which dropped more than a foot of snow in some areas of the Piedmont Triad.
And that will hamper preparations for three teams from the Northwest entering the NCHSAA state championships on Saturday.
East Forsyth faces Scotland County for the Class 4-A title at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham. At Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Davidson plays Shelby in Class 2-AA, and East Surry takes on Tarboro in Class 1-AA.
Schools in Davidson and Surry counties will remain closed Tuesday, while Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools are out through Wednesday. The NCHSAA also postponed its football press conferences two days, which was originally scheduled for Monday at Vaughn Tower at Carter-Finley Stadium. With title games just days away and little time for practices, it’s forcing teams to adjust.
According to Coach Todd Willert of East Forsyth, coaches for the Eagles are using Hudl, an online program used to review and analyze game footage, to communicate and study plays during their time off the field.
“We kind of figured this weather would hinder us a little bit, so now we’ve kind of turned to technology,” said Willert, whose team will make its first championship appearance since 1992. “You know, we’re writing notes to the kids over Hudl and communicating with the kids through telephone and text messages.
“We’re just kind of watching film and getting the game plan out to the kids that way and the coaches that way.”
Willert said he anticipated the winter storm to throw a kink in practice plans and — at the suggestion of Athletics Director Allen Plaster — the Eagles trained in the school’s gym just a day after their West Region finals win against Indian Trail Porter Ridge on Nov. 7. The team had cardio drills, stretched and watched film, along with offensive and defensive walkthroughs.
East Forsyth also booked McCreary Field House, the 80,000-square foot indoor football facility for Wake Forest, to hold a pair of two-hour practices Wednesday and Thursday. Willert said he reserved a spot the day after last week’s win. The team will have a final practice at an indoor batting facility in Kernersville on Friday before heading to Durham.
The Black Knights and Cardinals are also looking for indoor options. Coach Brian Flynn of North Davidson said he has been in contact with Wake Forest while also looking into Proehlific Park in Greensboro, which has a 60,000-square foot facility complete with a turf field. According to first-year coach Trent Lowman, the Deacons’ practice field is also a possible option for East Surry.
For now, Flynn is awaiting approval from Davidson County Schools to hold a practice in the school’s gym Tuesday.
“There’s a lot of moving pieces but, as for right now, obviously this affects us big time,” Flynn said. “That’s the million-dollar question as far as what’s going to happen.”
Lowman and East Surry are in a similar situation, awaiting approval from the school district to practice in its gym. The Cardinals could possibly use the Edward M. Armfield, Sr. Civic and Recreation Center just across the road as well.
For Lowman, who graduated from and previously coached at Catawba Bandys prior to leading the Cardinals, it’s just another obstacle in the season.
“I mean, this is just another thing,” Lowman said. “I remember in 2002 at Bandys, there was a big ice storm and we were playing Pisgah in the regionals that week, and we had to have the game end by Saturday.
“You know, it’s just one of those things ... It’s not a perfect world and you’re not always going to have perfect conditions, but that’s the beauty of football — you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do when you’ve got to do it.”