Welcome to The Huddle, returning user!
Recently, there were approximately 250 teams participating in the NCHSAA playoffs. However, the number has now decreased to only 32 teams.
The end of the season will come sooner than we realize. Let’s enjoy it while we can. The playoffs have been highly competitive. I will discuss this further in the third section below.
This week’s installment of The Huddle covers the NCISAA’s trio of state championship matches, the current status of the 4A playoffs and our findings on the top eight teams, as well as highlighting notable achievements in the third round, including Bunker Hill’s inaugural advancement to the fourth round.
The NCISAA has crowned its champions.
Providence Day avenged their previous loss to Rabun Gap-Nacoochee (GA) by defeating them 34-27 in the NCISAA Division I state championship. Despite trailing 21-10 in the third quarter and 27-17 with five minutes remaining, the Chargers made a remarkable comeback thanks to the performance of their 4-star quarterback commit Jadyn Davis and his talented receivers Channing Goodwin and Jordan Shipp.
Davis completed two successful passes to Shipp, a future player for UNC, while his team was behind, resulting in a reduction of Rabun Gap’s lead to 21-17 and 27-24. The first pass was a skillful 37-yard go-ball by Davis, and the second was a remarkable catch and elusive run by Shipp for a touchdown. David Sanders, a highly rated junior prospect for Providence Day, managed to force a critical safety for Rabun Gap. On the following possession, Davis consistently connected with Goodwin, advancing Providence Day down the field. Junior running back Ian Cline, who has been a standout player for the Chargers, sealed the lead for Providence Day with a one-yard rushing touchdown with approximately 20 seconds remaining in the game. Davis then completed a two-point conversion to Goodwin, increasing their lead to seven points.
Chad Grier, the head coach of the Chargers, has led his team to their third consecutive state championship win. I am eager to see how the team will perform next season without Davis and their two star receivers.
In the Division II state championship game, Ahseville School defeated Trinity Christian 42-29, securing their second consecutive state title. The team’s success was largely due to the impressive performance of running backs Caleb Jenkins and Ricky Tolbert, who combined for 253 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries, effectively controlling the pace of the game.
Rocky Mount Academy caused an upset in the 8-Man football championship of NCISAA by defeating Wayne Christian, who had previously only suffered one loss. The game took place at Arendell Parrott Academy and marked Rocky Mount Academy’s first NCISAA championship win since 2017. The Eagles emerged victorious with a score of 38-32, despite Wayne Christian’s comeback in the fourth quarter after being down 32-18. This season, Wayne Christian achieved a record-breaking 11 wins for their school.
Second Down: Evaluating the 4A Playoff Selection: Were the Top 8 Teams Chosen?
There are still eight teams left in the 4A bracket, including Rolesville as the 1-seed, Hoggard as the 2-seed, Cleveland as the 3-seed, and Gibbons as the 5-seed in the East. In the West, there is Weddington as the 1-seed, Grimsley as the 4-seed, Butler as the 6-seed, and Independence as the 23-seed.
Two out of the eight teams were able to advance to the fourth round with ease, while Cardinal Gibbons and Grimsley had to put in extra effort to fend off strong competition from Clayton and Hough.
I believe that these are the top eight teams that you could have hoped for. The only team that stands out to me is Hough, who showed their ability to compete with the state champions in their 42-35 defeat against Grimsley.
Hough came close to defeating the Whirlies, but the Huskies faced challenges against Grimsley. Although they were able to advance the ball down the field consistently, they had a costly turnover on downs in the first half and two interceptions near the end zone in the second half while trailing. Grimsley, on the other hand, did not commit any turnovers. It is possible that Hough could have beaten Weddington, Butler, or Independence if the RPI ratings were different. Weddington showed their strength with a 37-7 win over Charlotte Catholic, who had previously beaten conference champions in the first two rounds of playoffs, and Independence dominated against Watauga, who had just defeated Mallard Creek the week before.
At present, Butler and Cleveland are the top two teams in the playoffs. Butler has been victorious against strong opponents with scores of 49-7, 47-7, and 49-13. Cleveland has also been successful with scores of 57-13, 49-21, and most recently, a 56-13 win against the reigning 4A champion New Bern team.
The Eastern 4A division is flawless. It consists of the exact four teams that I predicted would make it this far since the beginning of summer. My original choice was for Cardinal Gibbons to advance from this area, but they were outplayed in their non-conference match against Rolesville earlier this season. Gibbons now has the opportunity to turn things around as they face Rolesville again this Friday.
Third Down: Enjoy These Playoffs
After three years of implementing a four-classification system in football, it can be concluded that the playoffs have become more intense. By expanding the classifications, it becomes simpler for the top teams to emerge. However, with only four classifications, the playoffs have already seen intense and exciting games even before reaching the championship round.
During the third round of last weekend’s games, there were a total of seven matches where the winning margin was only one score. Out of these, four games were decided by a difference of two points or less. Even in the games with a final score difference, the scores were close until the fourth quarter.
Over the past week, 19 games were won by a margin of a touchdown or less.
During the 2020 season, there were split classifications (4AA, 4A, 3AA, etc.) and only five out of 32 third round games had a margin of victory of a touchdown or less. In 2019, that number decreased to four. There are other instances of this trend in different rounds, but this is just one example.
I have a feeling that there will be many close games during the playoffs. In the previous two seasons with four classifications, we witnessed some incredible fourth round and regional matchups.
Yes, there is plenty of reason from the school’s perspectives for the upcoming increase in classifications. But I think fans of the game should appreciate these tighter brackets while we still have them. There’s some really good football happening in North Carolina on Friday nights right now.
In Round 3, significant achievements were made on the 4th Down.
During Round 3, notable milestones were reached on the 4th Down.
Bunker Hill has made school history by advancing to the fourth round of the state football playoffs for the first time. In a close match, the Bears triumphed over Monroe with a score of 24-23.
I inquired with head coach Albert Reid about the significance of this accomplishment for the team.
Reid expressed that reaching the fourth round of playoffs holds great significance for both the program and the community. The incredible support from the community has been greatly appreciated. The dedication and perseverance put in has resulted in success. This team is exceptional and united, with a strong sense of camaraderie. It’s wonderful that younger players have the opportunity to witness this achievement and are already inspired to carry on the legacy set by the current team.
Afterwards, Bunker Hill will journey to Reidsville, a team that has previously reached the fourth round multiple times.
Hough 5-star kicker Nolan Hauser wrapped up his storied high school career with 66 made field goals and 403 career points scored. Hauser broke the previous national record (56) by 10! The previous state record for FGs was 51. He’s also seventh in state history with 205 career PATs.
Andrew Attmore, quarterback for Dudley, matched the NCHSAA’s record for most passing touchdowns in a playoff game with 8 against Jay M. Robinson. This achievement was previously accomplished by Cordell Littlejohn of Lincolnton in 2016.
Zay Jones, the senior running back for Scotland, set a new record for single-season touchdowns with a total of 42 scored in the Scots’ 45-44 defeat against Northern Nash.
Riley Daniels, the kicker for Rolesville, has successfully made 66 consecutive point-after-touchdown kicks since week 4. This impressive streak will rank among the top 10 in state history once it comes to an end.
Mount Airy has now won 27 consecutive games following their 64-26 victory against Murphy. The team initially fell behind in the game, which is a rare occurrence for them. Out of all the defending champions from last year, Mount Airy is the sole team that remains undefeated.
Head coaches in their first year who took their teams to the fourth round:
I am not able to reword because it is a name or title.
- Josh Sophia, North Rowan
- Erik Teague, Reidsville
- Ranier Rackley, Rolesville
Interim Southern Alamance High School Principal, Chris Miller.
The Donut Squad dominated their opponents in the third round of the state playoffs, with impressive shutout victories from Seventy-First, Tarboro, and West Columbus.
Fifty burgers were scored by the following teams: Nash Central with 71 points, Rolesville with 69 points, Hertford County with 68 points, Mount Airy with 64 points, Northeastern with 62 points, Hickory with 61 points, Cleveland with 56 points, Princeton with 53 points, and Dudley with 50 points.
Shelby’s victory of 38-21 against Salisbury in the 2A West was a standout performance in the third round. After starting off the season with losses to three 3A teams, the Golden Lions have bounced back with 10 consecutive wins to make it to the fourth round. The young quarterback, Lan Farmer, has shown significant improvement, throwing for almost 3,000 yards and 40 touchdowns.
The top two teams in the state have been playing without their star players. Bryce Davis, a 4-star junior defensive end for Grimsley, is out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury. Isiah Jones, a senior and NC State’s running back commit for Rolesville, will also be sitting out the remainder of the year. Despite these setbacks, both teams have strong depth and versatility.
This concludes another installment of The Huddle. I wish everyone a lovely Thanksgiving week. HighSchoolOT will continue to provide ample football coverage throughout the week. Additionally, keep an eye out for some thrilling basketball matchups this week.