By CHRIS HOBBS
NEWTON– A trip down memory lane with the 1988 Newton-Conover High varsity football team, the 11th of head coach Don Patrick’s 16 state playoff teams.
That season, the Red Devils went 9-1 in the regular season and 12-2 overall, and it was the fourth team in a six-year stretch where Newton-Conover shared a Southern District 7 2A title in 1984 and then won the league title five consecutive time.
From 1984 through 1989, the Red Devils were 41-2 in SD-7 2A games.
Some highlights for that 1988 team that won three playoff games before being eliminated by eventual state 2A champion Thomasville:
- St. Stephens beat the Red Devils 10-8 in the third game of the season. They did not lose again until Thomasville won 28-24 in Gurley Stadium in a fourth round game.
- Other than in the two losses, only four teams were able to stay within eight points of the Red Devils – Maiden (28-20), Albemarle (13-7), Starmount (28-21) and Smoky Mountain (35-29).
BY THE NUMBERS
Scoring: 29.1 points per game, led the SD-7 2A
Rushing yardage: 260.9 per game
Passing yardage: 77.7 per game
Total offense: 338.6 per game (4,740), led the SD-7 2A
Touchdown passes: 12
Touchdowns rushing: 47, led the SD-7 2A
Rushing yardage: 119.6 per game
Passing yardage: 87.9 per game
Total defense: 207.6 per game (2,906)
Touchdown passes allowed: 4
Rushing TDs allowed: 19
Turnovers by N-C: 20 (13 lost fumbles, 7 interceptions)
Turnovers forced by N-C: 29 (15 fumble recoveries, 14 interceptions)
Turnover ratio: Plus-9, led the SD-7 2A.
THE 1988 PLAYOFF RUN
Newton-Conover 13, Albemarle 7
At Gurley Stadium, Heath Rogers had two scoring runs as the Red Devils won their first-round game.
Newton-Conover 28, Starmount 21
Playing in Booneville, Gary Robinson scored twice from the 3 and QB Andy Whisnant hit Michael Clarke twice – from 7 and 31 yards – as the Red Devils won a second round game.
Newton-Conover 35, Smoky Mountain 29
Back at Gurley Stadium for the third round, the Red Devils won behind five rushing TDs – two each by Andy Whisnant and Scoop Stockton and one by Gary Robinson.
The other points came on a two-point conversion run by Whisnant and three PATs by Jason Roscoe.
The victory, No. 12 that season, gave Patrick two with a dozen wins over three years, as his 1986 team also went 12-2.
Overall, Newton-Conover has seven teams (since 1974) that won 12 or more games: 1986, 1988, 1995, 2000 (state 2A runner-up) and 2006 each won 12, the 2008 state 2A title team won 15 and the 2009 2AA state runner-up team won 14.
Thomasville 28, Newton-Conover 24
The Bulldogs edged the Red Devils in Gurley Stadium despite three TD runs by Gary Robinson – 65, 2 and 2 yards – and another by Andy Whisnant of 1 yard.
The next weekend, Thomasville nipped previously undefeated Hertford County 13-10 to win the state 2A championship.