The football seasons of the West Stanly Colts, Albemarle Bulldogs and South Stanly Bulls all ended Friday as each school was on the losing end of road matchups in the first round of state playoffs.
Two of the games were shutouts, while the third was a 57-point loss.
No. 28 West Stanly (3-6, 1-3 Rocky River) fell to No. 5 Hendersonville (9-1, 5-0 Mountain Foothills 7) 42-0 in the 2A West Region bracket.
No. 25 Albemarle (2-8, 2-3 Yadkin Valley) was handed a 51-0 loss by No. 8 Mountain Heritage (8-2, 5-1 Western Highlands) in the 1A West Region. Joining Albemarle in that bracket was No. 26 South Stanly (2-8, 1-4 Yadkin Valley), which lost 65-8 to No. 7 Starmount (7-4, 5-1 Northwest).
The most successful team in the county this season — North Stanly — was notably absent in Friday night’s action. The Comets (5-4, 4-1 Yadkin Valley) won four out of their last five games only to fall short in the playoff metrics dictated by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s RPI system.
As for West Stanly, the team’s struggles in its recent five-game losing streak continued in its 42-point loss to the Hendersonville Bearcats.
In his final game with the Colts, senior running back Braden Hartsell had 23 carries for 97 yards. West Stanly’s reliance on the running game — 46 rushing attempts from six different ball carriers — generated 151 yards but not enough to make it to the Bearcats’ end zone.
Hendersonville quarterback Gavin Gasnell completed 21 passes for 349 yards; West Stanly’s only completed pass of the game was a 25-yard throw from Jett Thomas to Hartsell.
The Bearcats moved on and will host No. 12 Burns (8-3, 5-1 Southern Piedmont).
In Burnsville, Albemarle’s playoff hopes were shot down by the Mountain Heritage Cougars. The Bulldogs used 51 unanswered points to post their sixth shutout loss of the year. The Cougars will next host No. 9 Murphy (7-4, 3-2 Smoky Mountain) for the second round of state playoffs.
There are still positives for Albemarle. The Bulldogs will only lose four seniors from this year’s roster, so next season’s team will remain largely intact with more game experience.
South Stanly Bulls traveled to Boonville on Friday but were overwhelmed by the Starmount Rams, who used six rushing touchdowns to secure a landslide victory.
South Stanly’s Taewan Morris provided the Bulls with their only points of the night on a late touchdown run as the team suffered its fifth loss in six games — the Bulls’ eight losses this year were their most in a single season since 2016.
The Rams next host No. 10 Andrews (7-3, 2-3 Smoky Mountain) as their state playoff run continues.