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UNC Football: Spooky Season

Here there be monsters.

Virginia Tech v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

We’re a little over two weeks away from what promises to be one of the weirdest Halloweens in memory. Houses up and down neighborhood streets are suddenly experiencing acute spider infestations, or festooned with festive orange and purple lights. Pumpkins are cropping up on front porches in droves as folks look for the things we can still do that remind us of years gone by, when things were normal.

There may not be trick-or-treating this year, and those seasonal shops at malls nationwide are likely carrying more inventory than in prior years. It’s a genuinely scary time, and not in the fun inflatable-Frankenstein’s-monster-in-the-front-yard way. Even though the world at large is plenty terrifying, I’ve found myself pseudo-paradoxically leaning even more into the fun-spooky spirit of Halloween. Maybe it’s that ache for normality, the same reason that folks are decorating their yards for trick-or-treaters that may never come. Maybe it’s that I’ve just always enjoyed Halloween, but this year I’ve got more time on my hands to look forward to it. My favorite animal has always been the bat, after all, and this is the only time of year in which I get to see the noble flying mammal receive the veneration that the critter deserves.

My point is, there are things to look forward to. Halloween is coming, and a lack of trick-or-treaters doesn’t necessarily have to mean a lack of a bowl of candy. Even sweeter than that Reese’s cup, though; the Tar Heels are undefeated and ranked in the top 5 for the first time since 1997.

Are you, like me, on the hunt for more spooky fun? Look no further than the two-headed monster in the offensive backfield for Carolina. Last weekend, the running back tandem of Javonte Williams and Michael Carter terrorized a Virginia Tech defense, inflicting 383 yards worth of damage on the Hokies en route to a combined four visits to the end zone in a 56-45 that was considerably more lopsided than the final score would suggest. Anytime either of the backs touch the ball, fans everywhere hold their breath to see what’ll happen. That breathless excitement is what gives a thriller it’s name, and the play coming out of the Carolina running backs has certainly been thrilling.

Do we prefer a more calculating villain, a cold-blooded killer who always seems to be one step ahead of his victims? Hannibal Lecter is old news; perhaps I could interest you in watching Sam Howell, who’s already hit the jackpot with 777 passing yards through three games. He shreds defenses without a second thought, striking fear into the hearts of opposing coordinators tasked with stopping the onslaught. Scary movies are always more fun when the monster seems unstoppable, and Howell is filling the role nicely thus far this season.

Perhaps we crave a more creeping pressure; not so much a horror movie as a psychological thriller. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, or so it’s said, but watching the Tar Heel defense do their work is never dull. The Fox brothers, Tomon and Tomari, are the tickle up the spine of an opposing quarterback; always pressuring, always coming, always working their way to get to the quarterback and bring harm with them. Chazz Surratt is the unexplainable phenomenon, the stranger who’s all over the place and always seems to have a hand in it when things do go down.

I love looking forward to Halloween, and I love the fun-spooky of watching a classic scary movie with all the lights turned out. For opposing teams, this Tar Heels team has gotta be scary in its own way. That’s pretty fun, too.