When the Associated Press released its North Carolina all-state team earlier this week, it was not surprising to see the squad dominated by players from 4A schools.
What was shocking though was the disparity in the numbers of players from each classifications.
The AP requests its voters to select 12 offensive players, 11 defenders, three special team members and an athlete. This year’s team featured 32 players — 14 on offense, 12 on defense, four on special teams and two athletes — because of ties.
The defensive side of the ball was dominated by players from the 4A schools this season. Of the 12 selections, eight were from 4A teams, including the front four. Only in the secondary was the 4A hold broken as two of the five picks were from 2A schools (Lincolnton and Monroe) and another was from 3A South Point. Of the three linebackers selected, two were 4A players and the other played on the 3A level.
Things were a little more balanced on offense. Voters placed eight offensive players from 4A schools on the team, but also selected four from 3A teams and one from the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association.
If you include the athlete position with the offense, then things tilt heavily towards the 4A side of the scale once again. Lake Norman’s Josh Ladowski and Dudley’s Emmanuel Mosely, both from 4A schools, received three votes to share all-state honors.
The only category where things were equal was special teams. The punter and kick returner represented 4A schools, while the kicker position was a tie between a 3A player and a 2A player.
Of the 32 players selected all-state this season, 20 were from 4A schools. In other words, voters leaned towards the bigger schools 62.5 percent of the time.
The 1A classification was the only one not to have a player selected at any position. This is somewhat surprising because just two years ago the state’s player of the year was Todd Gurley from Tarboro.
The final tally had eight players from 3A schools, three from 2A and one from the NCISAA level, join the 20 4A selections.
As a voter on the AP all-state team, I have to admit my ballot did lean towards 4A schools, but not as heavily as the final product. I selected 15 4A players (55.5 percent) — including player of the year Elijah Hood from Charlotte Catholic — seven 3A players, three 2A players and two from the NCISAA.
Not to speak for other voters, I do my best to take each player’s statistics on their own merits and select who I feel is the best at each position.
If I am still struggling with my selection, I look to see which team made the longest march in the postseason. The final tiebreaker in my mind is winning a state championship because it doesn’t matter how gaudy the numbers, winning as a team is what it is all about.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.