When I arrived in February at The Herald-News, I knew I had inherited a pretty solid high school football team to cover as a sports reporter. I heard all about the historic playoff run last season that ended in the semifinals to Knox West in heartbreaking fashion.
I knew expectations were going to be high again this season as the returners got back to work in hopes of finishing the job this year with a state championship. After picking up a few losses earlier in the season, the Eagles have caught fire and are playing as good as anyone in the area as of late winning their last six games in a row.
My high school alma mater is also having an impressive year back home in South Carolina. The Seneca Bobcats, well known for their success on the gridiron in the glory days of the 70’s-90’s have finally returned to dominance. Region Champs again for the first time since 1996, the undefeated Bobcats (11-0, 7-0) have taken out anyone and everyone that has stepped in their path and are chasing what would be the school’s first-ever state championship under first-year head coach Brett Turner.
Just down the road, Clemson is also having a pretty special season as well. With a division title already in its back pocket and a perfect record, the Tigers (10-0, 7-0) have positioned themselves to not only capture the school’s second ACC title in five years but also guarantee a spot in the national title game if they win out.
I bleed Clemson orange and I’ve always wanted to experience a national title in football and the fact that we’re only five games away with the overall youth of this team and considering all we lost last year is truly remarkable. Head Coach Dabo Swinney has proved he has what it takes to be an elite coach and has taken down some of college football’s all-time greats over the past few years including bowls wins over Oklahoma, Ohio State and LSU the past three seasons.
Seeing as I was born and bred in the Carolina’s, I consider the Panthers my home team. I don’t necessarily myself a true “fan” per say, but I do try to attend at least one game per year and watch them play as often as possible.
That being said, I’ve enjoyed watching their success this season as well. It has been great to watch them find ways to win ball games without the service of their top receiver Kelvin Benjamin who suffered a season-ending knee injury back in August.
It appeared that would be a devastating blow to the 20-year-old franchise heading into the season, but Cam Newton has made the best of his surroundings. We are now nine games into the 2015 slate and the Panthers are still undefeated including wins over the Seahawks, Saints, Eagles and Packers.
I’ve never seen anything like this before in my lifetime and as a big football fan I’m truly living the dream. It’s not every day that a football fan can say that his high school alma mater, favorite college team and pro team are all undefeated and before its all said and done will likely have a conference championship to show for this season…and possibly more.
It’s a good time be alive for several of my friends and family back home who are enjoying the success of the Bobcats, Tigers and Panthers. If you follow Chinese Astrology, 2015 is the year of the goat/sheep but if you ask me, it seems to be the year of the “big cats”.
They say all good things must eventually come to an end but I hope the good times continue to roll through the first week of February capped off by a Super Bowl victory for the Panthers. Either way, I’m going to appreciate the moment as long as possible and just enjoy the ride.
Christopher Hall can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org