Longtime rivals now rooting for each other

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Hoggard and New Hanover rivalry is well documented, and there is never love lost between the Wildcats and Vikings.

That will all change Friday night when both teams play in the East finals of the state football playoffs.

"It would be a really great situation," New Hanover head coach Earl Smith said. "For both of us to be in the Eastern championship is pretty good, and it would be great if we both went to the states. It would be excellent."

The feeling is mutual for Smith's counterpart, Hoggard head coach Craig Underwood.

"I think it's great for the town," Underwood said. "Wilmington is a special place, and I think sometimes the athletics here are spread between four different schools. Maybe they don't get the state-wide attention that it deserves with the talent here. I think it's a very exciting thing for the town, and getting good recognition for our athletes."

The student-athletes are also are looking past the rivalry.

"It's really exciting to see two teams that are rivals to do so well together once the regular season has ended, now that we are no longer in the same playoff bracket" Hoggard senior captain Everett Pannkuk said.

New Hanover hosts Eastern Guilford in the 3AA East final, and Hoggard travels to Scotland County for the 4A East final.

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