Prep football heads down home stretch to playoff finish line

Oct. 31, 2013 @ 10:30 PM

With only two games remaining in the regular season, the races for the three playoff berths up for grabs in each of the area’s five NCHSAA football conferences is red hot.

Three is the magic number.

In the past, each conference received automatic playoff bids for half of its teams and half plus one if the league had an odd number of teams.

For example, last year’s seven-team PAC-6 4-A got four playoff berths. Since half the number of teams was 3.5 it was rounded up to four for playoff bids.

That’s not the case this season. Three is the magic number. The PAC-6, which actually has just six teams this year, gets three bids. Ditto the eight-team Big Eight 3-A Conference.

First place Hillside (6-2, 3-0) is a near lock for one PAC-6 playoff slot and second place Riverside (6-3, 2-1) and Northern (2-7, 2-1) are the likely Nos. 2 and 3 playoff recipients.

Riverside is a major favorite over Person (3-6, 1-2) at home tonight, ditto Northern over Jordan (1-8, 0-3) at Durham County Memorial Stadium tonight.

With Hillside a prohibitive favorite at East Chapel Hill (2-7, 1-2) tonight, barring an upset the only question remaining heading into next week’s finales will be if Northern can upset Riverside on the road to win the No. 2 seed from the PAC-6.

The new three-team playoff rule hits the Big Eight 3-A hardest of all area conferences.

Right now, one of the top 3-A teams in the state would be road kill under the three-team limit. Northwood (7-2, 3-2), which got off to a 6-0 start, stands fourth in the Big Eight and would not receive an automatic bid if the season ended this morning, despite the fact that the Chargers’ two losses have come to undefeated No. 9-ranked (3-A) Orange (9-0, 5-0) and co-Big Eight leader and No. 19-ranked (3-A) Southern (7-2, 5-0)

Fifth-place Chapel Hill (3-6, 2-3) visits Pittsboro tonight in what is truly a must win for Northwood. And Chapel Hill is no pushover. The Tigers lost 6-0 to Orange on 55-yard pass play as time expired and gave up 21 unanswered fourth quarter points after leading third-place Cardinal Gibbons (7-2, 4-1) on the road last week.

Northwood, should it finish fourth, could still make the playoffs as a sort of wild-card team, based on whether or not the 32-team East Region playoff bracket is filled or not by automatic qualifiers. But the Chargers certainly don’t want to pin their hopes on that.

Southern shouldn’t have any problems at seventh-place Oxford Webb tonight, but that’s not the case at Orange where the Panthers will face a stiff challenge from Gibbons and standout quarterback Shawn Stankavage at home.

Conference also-ran Northern Vance (0-9, 0-5) has lost 19 straight games over two seasons but should give sixth place Cedar Ridge (1-8, 1-4) all it can handle in Hillsborough tonight.

Northwood can sneak into the third playoff slot if it wins out — the Chargers travel to Gibbons next week — but could really get a lift if Orange can hand Gibbons a second conference loss tonight.

In the 2-A ranks, South Granville (7-2, 2-1) is the only area school in the Northern Carolina Conference and is in a four-way tie for first place with Southern Vance (4-5, 2-1), Bunn (5-4, 2-1) and Franklinton (7-2, 2-1).

The Vikings need a win at home tonight against fifth place Warren County (5-4, 1-2) to make sure they’re firmly in the playoff conversation next week.

Carrboro (4-5, 1-2) is the lone area team in the Mid-State 2-A Conference and last year’s state 2-A runner-up is slumping after a 3-0 start and the loss of star back Trai Sharp.

The Jaguars are tied with Jordan-Matthews (3-6, 1-2) for fourth place and are in desperate need of a home win over second place Graham (3-6, 2-1) tonight to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Granville Central (5-4, 2-1) appears to be a solid favorite to win one of the Tar-Roanoke 1-A Conference playoff berths and will be heavily favored to beat KIPP Pride (1-6, 0-3) at home tonight.

The Panthers are tied for second with Weldon (4-5, 2-1) behind first place Louisburg (6-3, 3-0). Southeast Halifax and Northwest Halifax are the only potential playoff pretenders, tied for fourth at 1-2 in league play.

Finally, in a game that was just scheduled and has absolutely no playoff implications, Kestrel Heights hosts a game for the first time all season, albeit its against a team of home-schooled students, the Southwest Wake Crusaders, at Bethesda Elementary School at 7 tonight.

It’s the last game of the season for 1-8 Kestrel Heights, which has yet to beat a regulation varsity team — their only other win this season was against a home-school program — and was a last-minute addition to the schedule.

Kestrel was supposed to face Mount Zion Christian Academy tonight, but Mount Zion only recently informed Kestrel Heights coach David Lloyd that it hasn’t fielded a team this season.

TONIGHT’S GAMES

PAC-6 4-A

Hillside at East Chapel Hill, 7 p.m.

Jordan at Northern, 7 p.m.

Roxboro Person at Riverside, 7 p.m.

BIG EIGHT 3-A

Southern at Oxford Webb, 7 p.m.

Chapel Hill f at Northwood, 7 p.m.

Cardinal Gibbons at Orange, 7 p.m.

Northern Vance at Cedar Ridge, 7 p.m.

NORTHERN CAROLINA 2-A

Warren County at South Granville, 7:30 p.m.

MID-STATE 2-A

Graham at Carrboro, 7:30 p.m. (Joe)

TAR-ROANOKE 1-A

Gaston KIPP Pride at Granville Central, 7:30 p.m.

 

FRIDAY, NOV. 8 GAMES

PAC-6 4-A

Northern at Riverside, 7 p.m.

East Chapel Hill at Jordan, 7 p.m.

Roxboro Person at Hillside, 7 p.m.

BIG EIGHT 3-A

Orange at Southern, 7 p.m.

Cedar Ridge at Chapel Hill, 7 p.m.

Oxford Webb at Northern Vance, 7 p.m.

Northwood at Cardinal Gibbons, 7:30 p.m.

NORTHERN CAROLINA 2-A

South Granville at Roanoke Rapids, 7:30 p.m.

MID-STATE 2-A

Reidsville at Carrboro, 7:30 p.m.

TAR-ROANOKE 1-A

Granville Central at Littleton NW Halifax, 7:30 p.m.

CONFERENCE STANDINGS

PAC-6 4-A

School    Conf.    PF    PA    All    PF    PA
Hillside    3-0    123    34    6-2    247    131
Northern    2-1    76    55    2-7    134    306
Riverside    2-1    112    58    6-3    287    243
ECH    1-2    58    119    2-7    159    312
Person    1-2    78    82    3-6    198    272
Jordan    0-3    32    131    1-8    101    381

Oct. 25 Results
Hillside 35, Northern 13
Riverside 49, Jordan 13
East Chapel Hill 42, Person 35

Friday’s Schedule
Hillside at East Chapel Hill, 7 p.m.
Jordan at Northern (Durham Co. Stadium), 7 p.m.
Roxboro Person at Riverside, 7 p.m.

BIG EIGHT 3-A
School    Conf.    PF    PA    All    PF    PA

Orange    5-0    218    35    9-0    373    57
Southern    5-0    290    118    7-2    446    241
Gibbons    4-1    212    130    7-2    336    238
Northwood    3-2    238    163    7-2    396    233
Chapel Hill    2-3    122    167    3-6    203    257
Cedar Ridge    1-4    90    272    1-8    180    394
Webb    0-5    97    197    2-7    156    296
N. Vance    0-5    54    239    0-9    126    402    9 L

Oct. 25 Results
Southern 68, Cedar Ridge 10
Cardinal Gibbons 47, Chapel Hill 36
Northwood 57, Northern Vance 17
Orange 56, Oxford Webb 7

Friday’s Schedule
Southern at Oxford Webb, 7 p.m.
Chapel Hill at Northwood, 7 p.m.
Cardinal Gibbons at Orange, 7 p.m.
Northern Vance at Cedar Ridge, 7 p.m.

NORTHERN CAROLINA 2-A
School    Conf.    PF    PA    All    PF    PA

S. Vance    2-1    69    69    4-5    171    226
S. Granville    2-1    109    100    7-2    346    200
Bunn    2-1    90    53    5-4    275    178
Franklinton    2-1    110    112    7-2    367    251
Warren Co.    1-2    98    95    5-4    290    206
Roanoke Rapids    0-3    54    101    2-7    209    303

Oct. 25 Area Result
South Granville 28, Bunn 21

Friday’s Area Schedule
Warren County at South Granville, 7:30 p.m.

MID-STATE 2-A
School    Conf.    PF    PA    All    PF    PA

Reidsville    3-0    144    54    7-2    325    151
Graham    2-1    58    77    3-6    201    319
Cummings    2-1    88    46    3-6    224    302
Jordan-Matt.    1-2    50    71    3-6    194    183
Carrboro    1-2    47    79    4-5    191    272
Bart. Yancey    0-3    59    119    2-7    210    352

Oct. 25 Area Result
Jordan-Matthews 28, Carrboro 7

Friday’s Area Schedule
Graham at Carrboro, 7:30 p.m.

TAR-ROANOKE 1-A
School    Conf.    PF    PA    All    PF    PA

Louisburg    3-0    131    90    6-3    348    267
Gran. Cent.    2-1    98    63    5-4    364    170
Weldon    2-1    88    46    4-5    194    154
SE Halifax    1-2    102    98    5-4    304    242
NW Halifax    1-2    74    136    1-8    110    461
KIPP Pride    0-3    58    118    1-6    126    242

Oct. 25 Result
Louisburg 43, Granville Central 34

Friday’s Area Schedule
Gaston KIPP Pride at Granville Central, 7:30 p.m.