After tonight’s games, one-third of this year’s high school regular season will be in the history books. While some teams will improve considerably over the next eight weeks, we all have better insight on what teams are legitimate title contenders. Let’s take at each classification.
Murphy (most like 1A playoff team but could end up in 1AA)
Swain County (1AA)
Polk County (1AA)
Thomas Jefferson (1A)
East Surry (1AA)
Gates County (probably 1A, but could go to 1AA)
Northampton County (1A)
The 1A West will most likely be decided between Mitchell, Robbinsville, and Murphy. Thomas Jefferson could possibly sneak in to the mix. At this time, Robbinsville might be the strongest of these teams.
The 1A East looks like it will be decided between Gates County and Northampton County. Some teams might come and surprise us (Washington County or Pamlico County), but I don’t have enough information at this time to add these teams to the conversation. I would give Northampton County a slight edge over Gates County
The 1AA West favorite at this time is East Surry. Should the Cardinals stumble, Starmount, Polk County, and Swain could represent the West in the 1AA state championship.
Tarboro will be the favorite to win the 1AA East. That being stated, I would not dismiss Holmes as legitimate title contender.
Mountain Heritage (2A)
Oak Grove (2AA)
North Davidson (2AA)
Southwest Edgecombe (probably 2AA but might go 2A)
Wallace-Rose Hill (2A)
Unless Reidsville stumbles, the Rams should be heading to the 2A state championship. Mountain Heritage and Randleman are in the best position to win the 2A West should Reidsville fall.
The 2A East will be a three way battle between Clinton, Wallace-Rose Hill, and Northeastern. Should Southwest Edgecombe end up playing in the 2A playoffs, we will have a four team shootout.
Shelby might be a strong bet to repeat as 2AA state champions. Right now, their biggest competitors will be Burns and possibly Hibriten. However, Shelby will be a strong favorite to emerge from the 2AA West.
Some team will represent the 2AA East, but there’s really not one “dominant team”. Oak Grove, Ledford, North Davidson (yes, they might be 0-3, but they have played a brutal schedule), and Southwest Edgecombe are the most viable contenders.
Kings Mountain (3A)
Charlotte Catholic (3A)
Northwest Cabarrus (3A but could go 3AA)
Mount Tabor (3AA)
Eastern Alamance (3A)
Southern Durham (3AA)
Southern Nash (3A)
New Hanover (3AA)
The 3A West should be a dogfight between Charlotte Catholic, Kings Mountain, and Northwest Cabarrus. All three teams will improve as the season progresses.
If you like some great offense, head over to the 3A East! Southern Nash and Eastern Alamance have some high scoring attacks. Jacksonville has one of the best defenses among the 3A classification. Southern Nash might be the most complete team in the 3A East. I would not discount Lee County either, but it’s hard to gauge how good Lee County will be based on their competition in the first four weeks of the season.
Weddington will be the favorite to win the 3AA West. However, do not discount Mount Tabor. The Spartans are a very strong team.
Dudley, New Hanover, and Cleveland show the most potential among the 3AA East squads. I would keep an eye out for Southern Durham as this team has played admirably against stout competition. If Cape Fear gets hot in November, the Colts could be part of the discussion.
Mallard Creek (4AA)
Myers Park (4AA)
Porter Ridge (4A)
East Forsyth (4A)
Richmond County (4AA)
Cardinal Gibbons (4A)
Wake Forest (4AA)
Leesville Road (4AA)
East Forsyth is the clear favorite to win the 4A West. Porter Ridge might give East Forsyth a battle, and as such, Porter Ridge should be part of the discussion.
The 4A East will feature Scotland, Seventy-First, and Cardinal Gibbons, and these three teams have some tremendous upside. The Scots might have the best defense of these three teams.
The 4AA West will once again be a beat. Leading contenders include Mallard Creek, Vance, and Myers Park. Richmond County might end up playing these schools in the West or possibly in the state championship if they are shipped to the East.
Although Wake Forest lost to Cardinal Gibbons, the Cougars have a solid chance of returning to the 4AA state championship game. Leesville Road will try to impede Wake Forest’s attempts at reaching the title game. If Richmond County is shipped East (and Richmond County could go East or West), I might give the Raiders the edge over the Wake County schools to win the 4AA East.