One of the most successful coaches in North Carolina history, Earl Smith knows a thing or two about building and maintaining top-notch high school football programs. Owner of a 257-104-1 overall record, he's accomplished about everything there is to achieve in the coaching profession except lead a program to a state championship.
I think that's something that could certainly change in 2017 as his New Hanover Wildcats move down from 4A competition to the 3A ranks. While I do believe that the competition will be tougher in the 3AA playoff bracket where they'll most likely end up, the Wildcats have speed, size, and lots of depth.
While last year's team only finished 8-5, Smith says that he has ten rising senior players that all started as sophomores on the 2015 squad that lost in the 4A Eastern Regional Finals.
The Wildcats will be led by junior quarterback Blake Walston and he'll have plenty of well equipped skill players to distribute the football to including the very shifty Wiz Vaughn, who accounted for over 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns a year ago.