RALEIGH -- This is one of the biggest high school sports weekends of the year as the best of the best battle it out on the gridiron. It's the 2011 High School Football Championships.
Monday, coaches from all 16 teams came together. Of the 16 head coaches honored, just eight will be champions.
"There is no higher pinnacle than reaching the state championship game,” said Davis Whitfield with North Carolina High School Athletic Association.
The NCHSAA welcomed coaches and staff to a kickoff news conference at NC State. Friday and Saturday, teams will play eight championship games in three venues, at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill and BB&T Field in Winston-Salem.
"This is the most visible thing we do as it relates to high school football and high school in general,” said Whitfield.
The Association introduced each coach, many brought school staff with them, like Kevin Gillespe, the head coach of the Page Pirates of Greensboro. His team battles the Garner Trojans for the 4-AA title. Garner has played for the championship before and Coach Nelson Smith says each time it gets bigger. No matter the year, he has a similar message for his players.
"They have to focus on a real good Page team. It's gonna be work, but at the same time I want them to have fun,” said Smith.
It's an exciting week for fans, parents and coaches, but the NCHSAA wants the focus to be on the players.
"We want to make sure that 'memory forever' that we talk about at the NCHSAA is there for each and every student athlete,” Whitfield said.
Tune in each night this week to Sports Night at 10 p.m. for interviews with the coaches previewing each game. Every game will be streamed live on News14.com and each game will be telecast on Time Warner Cable or News 14 Carolina.
The 4-AA championship will be live on News 14 Carolina Saturday, Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. Garner High School takes on Page High School from Greensboro.
The other 7 championship games are:
• 1A – Jones vs. Murphy (Raleigh – 7:30 p.m. Friday)
• 1AA – Ayden-Grifton vs. Swain County (Winston-Salem – 11 a.m. Saturday)
• 2A – Tarboro vs. Lincolnton (Raleigh – 11 a.m. Saturday)
• 2AA – Kinston vs. West Stokes (Raleigh – 3 p.m. Saturday)
• 3A – Havelock vs. West Rowan (Chapel Hill – 11 a.m. Saturday)
• 3AA – Northern Guilford vs. Crest (Chapel Hill – 7:30 p.m. Friday)
• 4A – Scotland vs. Porter Ridge (Winston-Salem – 7 p.m. Saturday)