Beyond the Scoreboard: Cherokee is the 40th WNC team to win a state football title

Beyond the Scoreboard: Cherokee is the 40th WNC team to win a state football title

(Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

When Cherokee High defeated North Duplin 21-13 on Saturday in the 1A title game, the Braves became the 40th WNC team in 45 years to bring home a state championship.

And it marked the 32nd time a program from the Smoky Mountain Conference claimed a state title.

The Braves (14-1) are the sixth different team from the SMC to earn a N.C. trophy since 1972, when the N.C. High School Athletic Association began playing state-wide championship games in all four classes.

There was a time when state titles were commonplace in WNC, thanks to the domination of the SMC.

In a 20-year span from 1973-92, 27 area teams won championships, including 23 from the SMC.

Since then, a span of 25 years, there have been just 13 titles. There have been the same number of seasons (13) in which no WNC team brought home a trophy as the number of teams that won championships.

Two local teams winning state titles in the same year used to be a thing in the mountains – it happened six times in a 10-year span (1973-82).

But over the last 35 years, it has happened just once, when SMC legends Murphy (1A) and Swain (1AA) earned championships in 2011.

WNC lost a chance for a pair titles when Reynolds lost to New Hanover 27-17 in the 3AA title game Saturday night.

Of the 29 public schools currently playing football in this area, 11 have won state championships.

The complete list and their conferences:

  • Robbinsville 11 (SMC)
  • Murphy 8 (SMC)
  • Swain (8) (SMC)
  • Sylva-Webster 3 (SMC)
  • Reynolds 3 (2 Mountain Athletic, 1 Northwestern)
  • Pisgah 2 (Parkway)
  • Asheville 1 (MAC)
  • Brevard 1 (MAC)
  • Cherokee 1 (SMC)
  • Franklin 1 (SMC)
  • Tuscola 1 (Parkway)