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Top 10 moments of the 2018-19 prep sports year

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Tarboro's Melik Ward, right, celebrates with teammate Zion Brooks on Saturday during the closing seconds of the Vikings' 50-10 win over East Surry in NCHSAA 1-AA state championship game at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The month of July always feels like a page-turning month.

Half of the year is over and summer is in full effect, yet football season is around the corner. But before we look ahead at what’s to come, let’s remember some moments from the 2018-19 high school sports year.

Several teams won state championships for the first time, individual athletes performed well at state events, while a few deep playoff runs invigorated some programs.

Here’s our list, in no particular order or ranking.

1. Tarboro football wins state championship

Tarboro won its second consecutive Class 1-AA state championship with a 50-10 win over West representative East Surry.

The Vikings actually trailed in the game — 7-0 after losing a fumble for a returned touchdown. It was the first time Tarboro trailed in a game since Oct. 2017. But the Vikings got back on track quick and ran away with the convincing win.

The championship was Tarboro’s fifth in nine years, and sixth in program history.

2. Zonovan Knight breaks the Southern Nash career rushing record

Zonovan Knight, the Southern Nash running back who enrolled at N.C. State this spring and will play running back for the Wolfpack, turned in a remarkable senior season for the Firebirds.

Knight set the single-season Southern Nash rushing record with 2,054 rushing yards to go with 26 rushing touchdowns. Knight also eclipsed the school’s all-time rushing record, and set the new bar at 5,073.

Knight surpassed former rushing leader Tracey Coppedge during a win against Rocky Mount High. The senior back ran for 284 yards on 21 carries. He entered the game needing 179 to break the mark.

3. Faith Christian football wins state championship

Most programs have to endure a much longer wait than Faith Christian’s.

It took just two seasons for the Patriots earned a state title. After announcing plans to start a team in 2016, FCS went 6-3 in its first season as a team in 2017.

In 2018, FCS earned a spot in the NCISAA 8-man state title game, and defeated Raleigh St. David’s 24-20. The win was remarkable, not only because it was the team’s second year in existence, but because St. David’s had beaten the Patriots 65-14 earlier this year.

4. Northern Nash basketball undefeated in Big East — again

The Knights went undefeated (10-0) in the Big East Conference for the third consecutive season, after they got past Wilson Hunt, 58-55, in the conference finale.

Northern Nash went 27-2 on the season, earned the No. 2 seed in the postseason and advanced to the fourth round of the Class 3-A playoffs where it lost to Eastern Alamance.

5. Southern Nash basketball plays way into third round

The Firebirds earned a No. 25 seed after they lost a tiebreaker in the Big East Conference to finish third. But that didn’t stop Southern Nash (16-10) from earning two upset wins and making a run to the third round of the 3-A playoffs.

Before that loss to Durham Hillside, the Firebirds had eight losses by single digits all season.

6. Rocky Mount Academy’s Kayla Miller completes three-peat

Kayla Miller will soon be swimming for Utah after she left her mark on the area swimming scene. The Rocky Mount Academy graduate won a pair of state championships in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle events this season.

It was the third consecutive year that Miller won the 100 free championship. Her 50 free title was the first of her high school career after placing second her sophomore and junior seasons. Miller was also a three-time winner of the Telegram’s swimmer of the year award.

7. Lance Norris swims to state title in freshman season

The Nash Central freshman didn’t waste any time in making an impact in Class 2-A, winning the 200-yard freestyle championship and taking second in the 500 freestyle. Norris finished nearly two seconds faster than the second-place finisher in his title swim.

The Bulldogs swimmer has already enjoyed success at the club level, including posting the fastest time for a 14 year old last year. Norris is currently training with his club team, working on cutting time to secure an Olympic Trials time standard cut.

8. Rocky Mount Academy baseball wins state title, denies Faith Christian three-peat

Jacob Braddy pitched six innings and earned the win for the Eagles in Game 3 of the NCISAA 2-A state championship series. The 6-3 win gave RMA its first state baseball championship, and denied in-town rival Faith Christian the chance for its third consecutive title.

RMA won the best-of-three series opener, then the Patriots won Game 2 to force the decisive third game.

FCS had won the previous two years, with RMA losing a step away from the championship series each year.

“We thought about that a lot, about how we do not want to be the team that lets them go back-to-back-to-back, so we had to stop them,” said RMA’s Isaiah Thomas. “... It’s the first one for us in our school’s history, so we had to make it count. This is how we wanted to go out.”

9. Northern Nash wrestler Sidney Sullivan third at state

Northern Nash’s Sidney Sullivan placed third in her weight class during the inaugural state women’s wrestling invitational tournament in Winston-Salem.

The freshman was the only girl wrestler on the Knights this season, and also the lone girl wrestler in the Big East Conference to advance to state.

10. Rocky Mount Prep’s Booth brings first state track title to program

Terence Booth Jr. secured the first individual state title at Rocky Mount Prep this past season.

The Jaguars junior won the 110-meter hurdles at the Class 1-A state meet at N.C. A&T’s Aggie Stadium in Greensboro. He ran the race in 15.22 to hold off Swain County senior Trey Bowman who finished in 15.49.

Booth had the top qualifying time in the race.

Honorable mention

Rocky Mount Academy girls’ tennis team wins state championship; Southern Nash boys’ tennis starts 9-0 in conference; Northern Nash’s Jordan Richardson ninth at state cross country; Nash Central baseball wins Eastern Plains Conference in tiebreaker; Rocky Mount Academy softball’s strong season; Rocky Mount Academy girls’ soccer makes deep playoff run.

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