Sports Shorts for December 2

Porter Ridge prepares for state championship trip

When the Porter Ridge football team travels to Winston-Salem on Saturday, Dec. 3, for its Class 4A state title showdown against Scotland High, only one person on the team will have the experience of playing in a state title game – head coach Blair Hardin.

“You can’t describe it,” said Hardin of playing in a title game. Hardin was a member of the 1997 Kannapolis A.L. Brown club that won the Class 3A title.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling and a little overwhelming,” added Hardin, who noted that focusing on all the hoopla surrounding the game would be a mistake.

“You want the kids to enjoy the experience, but we don’t want to just be happy to be there for Union County or Porter Ridge,” he said. “We want to go win that thing.”

To prepare, the team has practiced all week on Monroe High School’s artificial turf to simulate Wake Forest University’s field. But the game’s atmosphere will be a different story. The Pirates have never played in a venue as large as Wake Forest’s BB&T field, so Hardin and the team will make a brief pit stop at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on their way to Winston-Salem on Saturday morning.

“They can see where 175,000 NASCAR fans go a couple of times a year,” Hardin said. “Hopefully that’ll put in perspective that where we’re going only holds (31,500). Hopefully it will calm them down a little bit.”

49ers nab Monroe’s Sledge

Monroe football coach Johnny Sowell said Redhawks lineman Mason Sledge committed to sign a National Letter of Intent with the Charlotte 49ers in the spring. Sledge played along the offensive and defensive lines this year for Monroe, and led the team with 100 tackles and seven sacks.

Sowell said Sledge, a 17-year-old senior, can play center, guard and tackle offensively, and also is a long snapper.

“He brings a lot of experience on the offensive side and the defensive side, which is good for (the 49ers) being a first-year program,” said Sowell. “They’re excited about him because they’re going to evaluate him on both sides (of the ball).”

The chance to play for the 49ers, who begin play in 2013, gives Sledge an opportunity most college athletes never get.

“(Sledge) likes it because he’ll be considered one of the guys that brought history there,” said Sowell. “He’ll be with that first group of players (at UNC Charlotte).”

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