Worth the wait: Wildcats' coach ready for first state title game

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - New Hanover High head football coach Earl Smith has won hundreds of games during the course of his 35-year career, but there is one game that has eluded Smith: a state championship.

That will change Saturday when his Wildcats square off with AC Reynolds for the state's 3AA title at Duke's Wallace-Wade Stadium. It will be the first time that Smith has coached in a state championship game.

For Smith, the wait has been worth it.

"I would do it all over again. It's been a great ride for my whole family, my wife and two daughters. I have been blessed," Smith said. "It all started with a guy named Ken Browning at Northern Durham. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't  be in this position."

Smith served as an assistant coach for Browning at Northern Durham, where Browning compiled a 178-35 record during his 18-year coaching career there. Browning won a state championship in 1993 and earned two state coach of the year awards.

Saturday's game is expected to kick off at 7 p.m.

The Wildcats haven't won a state title in football since 1951.

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