"A.J. Blue is going to do what he does best and that is compete," said North Gaston head coach Bruce Clark. "What a day he had. I'm proud of him."
Teammate Princeton Brooks racked up 269 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, but it wasn't enough to keep pace with the Warriors' versatile and efficient offense that utilized five different rushers (320 yards, 6 TD's) and four different receivers (235 yards, 3 TD's) with senior Levon Curtis leading the way.
Curtis accounted for 96 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries and 153 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches on the way to 3A Most Valuable Player.
"Number 35 is a man-child," said Clark. "He's better on the field [in person] than even he looked on tape."
After the Wildcats threw an interception on a halfback pass the opening possession of the game, the defense then gave up touchdowns to Western Alamance on their first four offensive possessions. North Gaston was in a game of catch-up for the entire first half and went into halftime down 34-24.
"We faced adversity all year," said Blue. "We have been down [before], so it wasn't a problem for us to come back. It wasn't the end of the world because we have done it before, and that's all we tried to do."
The rest of the game the Wildcats simply could not get over the proverbial hump with enough plays on either side of the ball
"We didn't execute," said Blue. "That's what it boils down to. We didn't give 100 percent. Mistakes are OK, but we have to drop that and come right back and that is something we didn't do."
"We put in some new coverages, and we were at the right places," said Clark. "I didn't think we tackled well all day long."
In spite of the day's outcome, Blue was excited to play in Kenan Stadium--a field where he hopes to play next year--and reflected on the positives this season.
"The family--we all came together throughout the year," said Blue. "There was a big transition from day one with everybody arguing, but then it came down to family--everybody together--and we just played hard. What, 12-3? That's good for me."