Shelby's champoinship pedigree still alive while Kings Mountain, Burns, Crest begin Big South 3A Conference play next week
SHELBY - Entering Friday's Kings Mountain at Shelby "Battle of Buffalo Creek," many on both sides expected to see history.
Unbeaten Kings Mountain hadn't won at Shelby's Blanton Memorial Stadium since 1986 and hadn't beaten Shelby anywhere since 2010.
The host Golden Lions had lost three straight games and appeared destined for only the second 0-3 seasonal record against their county rivals in school history; The other time was 2010.
But the expected didn't pan out on a night in which the early rainfall from Hurricane Florence reached the area late in the first half and stuck around into the second half.
The mist-like rain only added to the surreal nature of what happened on the field.
And Shelby, a 16-time state title-winner, showed that its still had championship pedigree on its side by forcing four turnovers and making no turnovers in an efficient 28-23 victory that sends the Golden Lions into their bye week with momentum.
"I'm so happy for the kids," Shelby coach Lance Ware said. "They've worked so hard to get to this point. And this will make that bye week feel a whole lot better."
Ware's message to his team a simple as it entered the week at minus-8 in turnover margin in its uncharacteristic 1-3 start to the season that included a season-opeing win over Freedom and consecutive losses to A.C. Reynolds, Burns and Crest.
"The biggest difference tonight was turnovers," Ware said. "Getting on the plus side of turnovers is the key to winning in football."
It certainly was for Shelby on Friday night and the 2-3 Golden Lions get a week off before returning to action at Mount Pleasant on Sept. 28.
What to make of Kings Mountain? The Mountaineers are coming off an unbeaten run through the Big South 3A Conference last season and were a near-unanimous pick to repeat in a preseason coaches' poll.
Certainly losing to rival Shelby for the eighth straight year is painful reminder of last season's 20-17 home overtime loss to the Golden Lions.
But Kings Mountain bounced back from that defeat to win the conference a year ago and will start that bid on Friday in their league opener at home against Stuart Cramer.
A key for the Mountaineers is the return of junior running back Ricaylen Mack, who played Friday for the first time since the season-opener due to a sprained knee.
"He's not really 100 percent," Kings Mountain coach Greg Lloyd said. "But he's healthy enough to play and it was nice to see him back out there."
Burns, Crest also open league play this week: Burns travels to Ashbrook in what shapes up to be a really intriguing Big South 3A contest while Crest hosts struggling Forestview after the Chargers dropped their first game at Weddington on Wednesday night.
Burns (2-2) has bounced back from a 40-7 season-opening loss to Alexander Central and closed its non-league slate with a 56-55 win at previously unbeaten Hendersonville. Ashbrook (3-1) comes off a 40-18 loss at Clover on Thursday but enters the game atop the league standings after winning 28-27 at Forestview on Sept. 7.
Crest (3-1) lost a fourth-quarter lead at Weddington to fall 31-21 but has been impressive in wins over longtime rivals South Point and Shelby already this season. Forestview (1-3) has played better than its record indicates and was idle last week after losing at home to Ashbrook in a game in which the Jaguars once led 13-0.
Richard Walker: 704-869-1843; twitter.com/jrwalk22