The North Lincoln Knights beat Lincolnton 14-8 Thursday night in a battle for the Southern Piedmont Conference championship.
Josh Mull scored the Knights first touchdown in the second quarter, as he hit the left sideline for a 33-yard score.
With a minute remaining in the half, sophomore corner Chad Arndt set up the Knightsâ€™ second score of the night with a 37-yard interception return.
His teammate, freshman Ty Gray hit Pat Sykes for a 17-yard score with a minute remaining in the half, giving the Knights a 14-0 lead entering the locker rooms.
The Wolves got on the scoreboard with five minutes left as Adam Thompson connected with Jimmy Angle for a 15-yard score. Running back Jed Downs ran in the two-point conversion.
North Lincoln finished conference play unblemished with a 6-0 record. They went 8-1 on the season, a fact that makes Beam think about the future.
â€œWe won the conference championship and weâ€™re county champs. Iâ€™m very proud of these kids. They came from winning it last year in middle school and theyâ€™re some good players that weâ€™re excited about having on the varsity next year,â€ Beam said. â€œThey played hard. We really havenâ€™t been too successful the last couple of years, because they were so young. They know they have to go lift, get faster and stronger to be ready for next year,â€ he added.
Led by defensive coordinators Wes â€˜The Local Legendâ€™ Beam and Jason Barnes, North Lincoln only surrendered a stingy 53 points on the season.
â€œThatâ€™s a feat. They have a lot to be proud of. Yeah, we were able to go undefeated in the conference. I believe weâ€™ll be able to build off this year,â€ Matt Beam said.
Sykes led the team in interceptions with five, while Arndt chipped in with two of his own. Josh Neratka, who was a defensive standout Thursday night, led the Knights from his linebacker position. Gray was a standout on both sides of the ball.
Although Lincolnton (6-4, 4-2) wasnâ€™t able to win the conference championship, it was quite an achievement just playing for it as 11 sophomores moved up to varsity, instead of playing JV.
â€œConsidering the fact we still had a shot at the JV championship really says a lot about our kids. They really worked hard and they improved throughout the season,â€ Wolvesâ€™ head coach Fred Dalrymple said.
Lincolntonâ€™s JV team returned no starters from last seasonâ€™s squad. Andrew Keene made both extra-point attempts for the Knights.
by John Mark Brooks