High School Sports

NCHSAA football playoffs can be wacky, especially for CMS schools

South Meck high head football coach Rocky White said he is not thrilled with having to play SoMeck 8 Conference rival Ardrey Kell on back-to-back weeks. The Sabres beat Ardrey Kell 51-24 last week but were assigned to play the Knights again in the playoffs Friday
South Meck high head football coach Rocky White said he is not thrilled with having to play SoMeck 8 Conference rival Ardrey Kell on back-to-back weeks. The Sabres beat Ardrey Kell 51-24 last week but were assigned to play the Knights again in the playoffs Friday rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Last week, South Mecklenburg beat SoMeck 8 Conference rival Ardrey Kell 51-24 and won its third straight game.

Friday night, the Sabres will start the N.C. 4AA playoffs against ... Ardrey Kell.

“I don’t like playing somebody in my own conference,” Sabres coach Rocky White said. “But we don’t talk about injuries or who we’ve got to play. We just gotta go get ready.”

Not everyone is ever happy when the N.C. High School Athletic Association releases it football pairings. The NCHSAA does a great job in general, but there are always some things about the football playoffs that make me scratch my head.

▪ When there are ties among teams for best records, a draw used to determine the top seed or top seeds. Mecklenburg County teams almost always seem to lose. I recall once when Independence was a reigning state champion, was dominating the state, and the Patriots’ reward for another unbeaten season was a No. 3 seed and a potential bus trip instead of home field throughout the playoffs.

This season, for example, unbeaten Charlotte Catholic, received a No. 3 seed in the 4A bracket. Greensboro Dudley, which lost to Richmond County, got the top seed. Catholic? Another potential bus trip.

▪ In 4AA West, there are 16 teams. All but four are from Mecklenburg County. So I expect a lot of Charlotte-Meck vs. Charlotte-Meck matchups. Not too thrilled to see two teams from the same conference playing each other again, though.

▪ In 4A, there are only two Mecklenburg County teams, and Vance and Charlotte Catholic meet in the first round. They met in last year’s semifinals.

▪ Many years, the brackets involving Mecklenburg County teams seem to be weighted heavily to one side. In 4AA West this year, heavyweights Butler, Mallard Creek and Hough are all on the same side. On the other side of the bracket, East Forsyth (11-0) won’t face a team with fewer than three losses at least until the semifinals if it wins out.

None of this is lost on White.

“Look at the western (4AA) bracket,” he said. “There seems to be a lot of CMS schools. We’re sort of like the SEC. We’re eating our own. There’s got to be a better way to do it. I don’t have all the answers, but I would like for someone to sit down with the high school league and find a way to put the best teams in the playoffs against the best teams.”

▪ At 9-2, South Meck has its most wins since 2008, and its two losses are by a combined 15 points. South was upset 20-8 by West Meck after the Sabres’ starting quarterback was injured during a Monday game that was delayed by weather. The Sabres had little time to prepare. They lost the next week to Catholic 10-7, again without their quarterback, and that was the second-fewest points Catholic has scored all year. The Cougars average 32.

▪ Indian Land’s Brandon Dickerson was named to the U.S. Under-16 national team that will play against Canada on Feb. 5 in the 2016 International Bowl at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. The 60-player U.S. team is comprised of freshmen and sophomores.

▪ Sun Valley freshman quarterback Sam Howell is No. 3 in the state in passing with 3,260 yards. He ranks No. 1 among all freshmen in the country -- by nearly 1,000 yards. Three of his receivers -- junior Jeremiah Miller, sophomore Anthony Marple and senior PJ Lotharp -- have 53 catches each. Sun Valley (5-6) will play at No. 1 3AA western seed Concord (10-1) Friday.

▪ It would cap an eventful week for Davidson Day coach Chad Grier to lead his team to a N.C. Independent Schools title Friday. Grier’s social media famous son, Nash Grier, had a movie premiere for a teen drama called “The Outfield.” The movie is No. 4 on the iTunes sales charts, just behind “Terminator: Genisys” and ahead of films such as “Jurassic World.” Chad Grier is credited as a producer on the film.

Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr

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