The area's four remaining high school playoff entries pulled a perfecto Friday night, to move into the state quarterfinals where three members of the Big East 3-A Conference are among the last eight 3-AA programs standing. Southern will host Chapel Hill on Friday in one quarterfinal, Orange will host Northern Guilford in another, and Hillside will travel to No. 1 seed New Bern in 4-A in a rematch of the Hornets' season-opener.
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Four area teams remain alive for Friday’s (Nov. 21) 7:30 p.m. second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs, but only one can be considered a favorite. Reigning state 3-AA champion Southern is that favorite, as the No. 1 seed hosts No. 8 Clayton Cleveland. Southern is one of three Big Eight 3-A Conference teams still alive after the first round of the playoffs, joining No. 6 seed Orange and No. 12 Chapel Hill, both of whom play on the road in 3-AA action tonight. In Fayetteville, 4-A No. 5 seed Hillside (8-4) will have its hands more than full when it travels to meet No. 4 Seventy-First (12-0).
Reigning state 3-AA football champion Southern got the lowest-seeded opponent it could for a second round state playoff game in visiting Clayton Cleveland (7:30 p.m. Friday). But the No. 1 Eastern Regional seed Spartans might be shaking their heads about that. While Cleveland might be a No. 8 seed, the Rams play like a team that should have been seeded much higher.
In a rare occurrence, Southern’s offense had an off night Friday, but the defense picked up the slack and led the Spartans to a 25-6 win over Cardinal Gibbons in the first round of the NCHSAA 3-AA state playoffs.
Is there another state championship in the offing for our area high school football? We’ll know a little bit more after Friday's 7:30 opening round of 10 state playoff games in five classifications.
Reigning and undefeated 3-AA state champion Southern, fresh off a miraculous comeback win at previously undefeated Orange Friday night has earned the No. 1 seed in the 16-team state 3-AA football playoffs that begin Friday. ... Complete list of all area teams' playoff seedings and Friday night matchups ... Updates from preliminary brackets are many, including Granville Central losing home opener, seeding drops and opponent changes.
Southern comes from nine down in the final 2:56 to beat Orange 27-23 and cap a perfect regular season. The loss was Orange’s first of the season. Southern, the reigning state 3-AA champion, also ended a perfect Orange season last year in the regular-season Big Eight 3-A Conference finale.
Reigning state champion Southern won the battle of the unbeatens Friday night, handing Orange its first loss of the season 27-23 en route to the Big Eight 3-A Conference championship and likely the No. 1 seed in the state 3-AA playoffs.
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Southern 27, Orange 23
Northern 34, Riverside 22
Chapel Hill 42, Cedar Ridge 30
Hillside 57, Roxboro Person 0
Northwood 31, Cardinal Gibbons 6
Granville Central 42, Northwest Halifax 0
South Granville 14, Roanoke Rapids 0 ...
Reidsville 56, Carrboro 6 ...
Northern Vance 36, Oxford Webb 19
“The last game (between) two undefeated (teams), and the outcome (could mean) you are the champions,” Southern coach Darius Robinson said.
“We’re here. We’re both 10-0,” Orange coach Pat Moser said. “This is for the championship. It’s very big.”
Something has to give when these 3-A teams from the Big Eight Conference meet at Orange High School Friday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.. Orange could put a chink in the Spartans’ armor. Or Southern could bag the Panthers.
“The Big Eight Conference is the best 3-A conference in the state,” Moser said. “We had to play really good football to get by those teams.
“We’re both undefeated, 10-0 teams. It’s been a hard road to get here to that.”
Orange and Southern spent part of the season fending off conference counterparts Chapel Hill, Northwood and Cardinal Gibbons. Those matchups were akin to what could be described as Big Eight bowl games.
Which would make the Southern-Orange scenario something like the Super Big Eight Bowl.
Oxford Webb was haunted by reigning 3-AA state champions Southern in a Halloween horror story that ended with the visiting Warriors buried 68-0 in a bone-rattling Spartan graveyard where offenses have gone to die all season.
Southern coach Darius Robinson sits seniors fpr opening series as punishment for misdemeanor "skip day," but undefeated Spartans remain tied for Big Eight 3-A Conference lead after 60-14 thrashing of Cedar Ridge.
With an unscheduled bye week in hand, Northern should be rested and ready, but whether that’s enough tonight is another question.
Southern came up with seven turnovers — four interceptions and three fumble recoveries — en route to a 33-25 win over Northwood Friday that left the Spartans (8-0, 4-0 Big Eight 3-A Conference) tied atop the Big Eight with Orange (8-0, 4-0 Big Eight).
Here are links to our other Friday area football games:
Orange 38, Chapel Hill 37
Hillside 19, Riverside 18
Jordan 17, Roxboro Person 14
Burlington Cummings 19, Carrboro 0
Cedar Ridge 14, Oxford Webb 12
South Granville 41, Southern Vance 0
Hobbton 47, Kestrel Heights 6
Southeast Halifax 40, Granville Central 35
East Chapel Hill forfeits to Northern
Four of the preseason Big Eight 3-A Conference powers, all of whom have lived up to their billings, are in action Friday, Oct. 17. In Pittsboro, reigning Big Eight and state 3-AA state champion Southern (7-0, 3-0 Big Eight) visits Northwood (6-1, 2-1) at 7, while in Hillsborough, Orange (7-0, 3-0) hosts Chapel Hill (6-1, 2-1).