1A East: Northampton County (10-3) at North Edgecombe (10-3)
This is a rematch of a Tar-Roanoke conference game that resulted in a 46-28 North Edgecombe victory. Both teams love to pound the ball, and both teams have at least 3 backs who can gain a considerable amount of yardage. North Edgecombe’s defense has been slightly better, and as such, I’ll take North Edgecombe by one score.
1A West: Thomas Jefferson (12-1) at Robbinsville (13-0)
Robbinsville’s rushing attack has been proven, game after game, as a defensive coordinator’s nightmare. The Black Knights love to pound the ball, and so far this season, they have been quite successful with this plan. Thomas Jefferson also runs the ball albeit with not quite the success as the Black Knights. The Gryphon’s passing attack has been quite productive this year. Will they have luck against a stingy Robbinsville defense? I’m going with Robbinsville by two scores.
1AA East: Holmes (12-0) at Tarboro (13-0)
Holmes has a tremendous defense. Tarboro has the premier defense in the 1A classification. Both teams love running the ball and have experienced considerable success throughout the year. Both teams are well-coached and well-prepared for this epic battle. Defense wins championships, and on paper, Tarboro’s defense is second to no one in the 1AA playoffs. I’m picking Tarboro by two scores.
1AA West: Mitchell (12-1) at East Surry (13-0)
Mitchell has recently lived under the shadow of their conference foe, Mountain Heritage, but don’t discount the fact that Mitchell’s defense has played lights out the entire season, allowing only two opponents to score more than 10 points (Trinity Academy–12 points and Mountain Heritage–14 points). However, I don’t think the Mountaineers have faced a vicious passing attack like the East Surry Cardinals. Mitchell’s stout rushing attack is nicely complimented by an effective air attack. I expect a brawl, and I see East Surry prevailing by two scores.
2A East: Northeastern (11-3) at Clinton (12-1)
The Northeastern Eagles struggled midway through the season, losing 3 games against Holmes, Havelock, and Hertford County (all three teams played in the third round of the playoffs). Northeastern primarily runs the ball but makes a defense honest with an effect air attack. Clinton loves to run the ball…and then run the ball some more. I think the difference between the two squads is defense, and I think Clinton’s defense has been more effective this year. I’ll take Clinton by a score.
2A West: West Stokes (11-3) at Reidsville (13-1)
West Stokes has been riding high on a 10 game winning streak. Except for allowing East Surry to score 55 points, Reidsville’s defense has been exceptional, allowing 56 points in their 13 victories. Reidsville has a balanced offense and considerable depth. West Stokes simply plays hard on both sides of the ball. I like Reidsville’s talent in this game, and as such I’m picking Reidsville by three scores.
2AA East: Salisbury (12-2) at Randleman (13-0)
Randleman can move the ball with their running game and their air attack. Salisbury relies on a very impressive defense that seems to get better each and every week. Truthfully, these two teams are fairly even, but Randleman gets to host the game, and playing Randleman at their electric field is simply not easy. I’m taking Randleman by a score.
2AA West: Burns (12-2) at Shelby (12-1)
During conference play, Shelby defeated Burns 26 to 13. Shelby has a tremendous offense that’s centered on an incredible air attack. Burns also has a very good passing game, but they have a vicious rushing attack. Shelby’s defense has been playing lights out the last two months. I’ll pick Shelby by two scores.
3A East: Eastern Alamance (14-0) at Southern Nash (14-0)
Southern Nash has an incredible rushing attack that might be the best throughout the 3A classification. Eastern Alamance also has a stout rushing attack, but their passing game has experienced success throughout the season. Southern Nash tends to wear a defense out, but Eastern Alamance has considerable athleticism and depth. I expect a wild affair, and I’ll pick Eastern Alamance by a score.
3A West: Kings Mountain (12-2) at Charlotte Catholic (10-3)
The Charlotte Catholic Cougars have sputtered some during the season, but they have reached their 10th consecutive regional final. The Cougars rely on an effective rushing attack and a fundamentally sound defense. Kings Mountain is a very athletic team that can run and throw the ball with considerable success. Kings Mountain has experienced difficulties this year with untimely penalties and mistakes, something a team like Charlotte Catholic can exploit. I expect an epic battle with some great defense played by both teams. I’ll pick Charlotte Catholic edging Kings Mountain in this game.
3AA East: New Hanover (13-1) at Lee County (14-0)
Both teams have strong offenses with a healthy mix of running the ball and airing it all out. I do, however, believe New Hanover is slightly more battle ready than Lee County. I’m picking New Hanover to win this game by a score.
3AA West: Watauga (13-1) at Weddington (14-0)
Watauga’s rushing attack has been dominant throughout the season. Weddington…has been dominant at every aspect of the game throughout the season. The Warriors’ defense has been one of the best in any classification during the season, and their offense can and will capitalize with good field position. I’m picking Weddington to win by three scores.
4A East: Scotland (12-2) at Cardinal Gibbons (11-2)
Both teams are tremendously well-coached. Cardinal Gibbons two losses were against Richmond County (45-28) and Leesville Road (30-24), and both teams are playing regional final games this Friday. The Crusaders also defeated Wake Forest, another team playing a regional final game. Scotland had their wings clipped against Pinecrest (36-28) and Richmond County (48-13). This game could go either way, but factoring in Cardinal Gibbons’ home field advantage along with a more consistent defense, and I’ll take Cardinal Gibbons by a score.
4A West: East Forsyth (11-2) at Grimsley (12-1)
Both teams have strong running games and both teams have an aerial attack that can make a secondary pay for any missed assignments. Earlier this season, East Forsyth defeated Grimsley by a 21-20 score. It’s hard to defeat a very good team twice, but I’ll pick East Forsyth to win this game by a score.
4AA East: Leesville Road (12-0) at Wake Forest (12-1)
Wake Forest started the season out with a 45 game winning streak, but in the Cougars’ opening game, they lost to a talented Cardinal Gibbons squad by a 27 to 24 score. Since then, the Cougars have amassed 12 straight victories. Leesville road has also amassed a 12 game winning streak based on their well-balanced offense and a stingy defense. On paper, these two teams are fairly evenly matched. Reggie Lucas’s Wake Forest squad has reached the regional finals 9 of the last 12 seasons, a fact that can’t be dismissed. I’m picking Wake Forest by a score.
4AA West: Vance (11-2) at Richmond 13-0)
I’m looking forward seeing Vance’s defense play Richmond’s explosive offense! Playing at Rockingham is a challenge for any team although Vance has proven to be great road warriors. Vance’s offense has been inconsistent this year although they did score 35 points this past Friday night against West Forsyth. Should be a good game, but I’m picking Richmond by a score.