We have gone 2 months since the 2017 state championship games. As such, I'm going through some withdrawal, so just for the fun of it, let's take a real early look at what the 2018 1A season may look like. Yes...we won't have any regular season games for another 6 months, but still, let's take a look at the movers and the shakers.
The team in it's own category
1. Tarboro. I feel that the Vikings are the most dominant 1A team in the state, regardless of region and size. This team simply reloads from one year to another.
The team that is next...and in its own category
2. Holmes. The Aces will once again be loaded. I think they are a step behind the Vikings but at least a step ahead of everyone else.
The teams that no one wants to play come November
3. East Surry. The Cardinals should be hungry and loaded for some Granite Bear.
4. North Rowan. The Cavs will be the best of an actually decent Yadkin Valley Conference.
5. Riverside-Martin. No, I'm not kidding. The guys in Williamston will have a very athletic...and experienced team next year.
6. Murphy. Maybe a question mark in regards to the Bulldog passing attack, but overall, should be a great year.
7. Mount Airy. The Granite Bears lost a considerable amount of offense due to graduation, but there is plenty of talent on this roster.
8. North Stanly. The Comets will have a vicious running attack. Should their defense get nasty, watch out!
9. Mountain Island Charter. MIC fans should be smiling this upcoming year as their team is probably the best in the 1A Southern Piedmont.
Don't sleep on these teams!
10. Mitchell. I think the Mountaineers might struggle a little this year but they still will be a tough out!
11. Cherokee. A huge pair of shoes to be replaced at QB, but overall, this team will be a contender to defend their 1A state title.
12. Robbinsville. The Black Knights are no slouches. After a few subpar seasons, Robbinsville will give Murphy and Cherokee a fight!
13. Polk County. Polk County vs. Mitchell should be a whale of a game this year!
14. Northampton. We should see Northampton turn some heads this year! Last year's 11-2 season was no fluke.
15. Bessemer City. The Yellow Jackets could give Mountain Island Charter a run for their money!
16. Pamlico County. The boys from Bayboro are several steps behind Tarboro and a step behind Riverside, but still, a fine team.
17. Plymouth. 2017 was the first year since 2011 that the Vikings were not in the 1A state championship game. Dangerous team come November.
The rest of the Top 25
18. Union Academy. Another fine team in the 1A Southern Piedmont Conference.
19. Thomas Jefferson. The Gryphons might struggle some due to graduation, but come November, they may surprise us.
20. West Montgomery. This might be year 2 of the Warrior reloading process. Not a top 10 team but still a team to watch.
21. Lakewood. The Leopords should supplant North Duplin for the conference title this year.
22. East Wilkes. The Cardinals might lack some experience, but their athleticism still has them in the top 25.
23. Swain County. The Maroon Devils may struggle some in 2017.
24. South Stanly. The Rebel Bulls are not a bad team!
25. Granville Central. The guys from Stem play in the brutal 1A-2A Northern Carolina Conference. Should hold their own with the other 7 2A teams.
The remaining playoff teams:
29. South Stokes
30. East Carteret
32. North Duplin
33. SE Halifax
34. South Creek
36. Gates County
37. Winston-Salem Prep
38. North Edgecombe
41. Avery County
45. Pine Lake Prep
47. South Robeson
I would not focus as much as ranking as I would focus on category. For example, I think the teams ranked 3 through 9 are all very close to each other in terms of potential.