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)