By David Keever —
Defending state champions Shelby (2AA), Tarboro(1AA), Weddington (3AA) and Wake Forest (4AA) enter their respective playoff brackets as number one seeds, as does 1AA state-runner up East Surry.
Reidsville, last year’s 2A champion, will open the playoffs this Friday as the #2 seed in the West Region, and defending 4A state champ East Forsythe will also go in as a two.
Last season’s 1A champion, Murphy, is a four seed and Charlotte Catholic, the 3A defending champ, enters as five seed. Let it be known that I wouldn’t overlook either of those two teams.
The two 1A games last year were blowouts. Murphy (1A) won by 33 over Pamlico, while Tarboro (1AA) defeated East Surry by 40.
Fortunately, no other 2018 championship game was decided by more than 21 points. And we did have a seven-point game, two 3-point decisions and a two-point contest.
Shelby won their tenth all-time championship last season, and Murphy took home their ninth. Tarboro (1AA) and Catholic (3A) each won their second straight title, and for Wake Forest (4AA), it was their third in a row.
So conventional wisdom should tell us that Tarboro, Shelby, Weddington, Wake Forest and Reidsville will likely win five of the eight championship games that will be played on Saturday, December 14. And to tell you the truth, I’d have trouble picking one of those five if I had to tell you one that wouldn’t win another championship next month.
For us high school football fans in North Carolina, it sure seems a lot like the movie Groundhog Day. No matter what, we just keep waking up on that second Saturday in December and seeing the same teams in those championship[ games. It’s like deja-vu all over again.
But maybe this season, the 3A door may be open for someone like Crest or Kings Mountain to get back to the top, with perennial power Charlotte Catholic supposedly “down” a bit.
Perhaps Robbinsville (1A) can pick up another title, although they’d most likely have to get past defending champion Murphy in round 3. And Grimsley and West Forsythe could slug it out in the fourth round for the right to play in the 4A championship game.
While I obviously would like to see some of our local teams reach that pinnacle of success, it is one long, hard road when you go up against those familiar teams that are always in the championship hunt and have to play at their place.
If East Lincoln were to make a title run, they’d likely have to defeat Burns, Hibriten, North Lincoln and Shelby just to get there. Maiden, who is looking to get past the opening round for the first time since 2015, would travel to Shelby in round two. That’s tough!
Newton-Conover has 8-3 Thomasville this Friday, then is facing a road trip to Reidsville in round two if they can pick up a win. And Bandys has the tall task of going to top-seeded Mountain Heritage where the temperature could get down in the twenties with a light breeze blowing.
West Lincoln (2AA) will be traveling to Ashe County for their first-round matchup with the Huskies. Can the Rebels finally get over the hump and bring home a postseason win for the first time? This may be their best chance in years.
And as for North Lincoln (2AA), who is the South Fork 2A’s number one seed. The Knights’, who did not have a conference game decided by single digits, will host R-S Central on Friday, then will face either Pisgah or Bunker Hill in round two.
I could be wrong, but if North Lincoln continues to play at the same level that they have been, I don’t think they’ll be tested until round three.
So let’s get the playoffs rolling. In just five weeks we’ll see how many of the same old schools are left holding up one of the state’s eight football state championship trophies.
2018 State Championship Scores
1A: Murphy 60, Pamlico 27
1AA: Tarboro 50, East Surry 10
2A: Reidsville 31, Northeastern 28
2AA: Shelby 42, North Davidson 21
3A: Charlotte Catholic 17, Jacksonville 14
3AA: Weddington 27, Southeast Guilford 14
4A: East Forsythe 35, Scotland County 28
4AA: Wake Forest 9, Vance 7