The first round of the NCHSAA playoffs went as expected, as I predicted all 11 games on tap correctly last week.
This week, we’re down to just four regional games remaining, but below is a look at each and which teams we see moving on.
NCHSAA 3-AA Playoffs:
No. 8 Parkland (8-3) at No. 1 Weddington (12-0)
The Warriors have been unrelenting in their title defense this season, taking on all comers including beating overmatched South Iredell 35-0 in the opening round last week.
There aren’t many things the Warriors aren’t doing right to this point, as both sides of the ball are playing lights out.
In fact, both the 43.0 points per game the team is averaging on offense and the 5.6 points per game they allow defensively are by far school records for a program that has turned into a power with an 86-13 record over the past seven seasons.
However, coach Andy Capone has come in and made a difference with his 27-1 coaching mark that includes many school records.
Parkland comes in having won six of their past seven games, although they had to squeak past Mount Tabor (6-0 win) during the regular season and Alexander Central (38-34) last week in the opening round of the playoffs.
Quarterback Camian Shell has a lot of weapons, including Chris Jones and Chase Rorie, at his disposal, but the Warriors will likely be too much.
NCHSAA 3-A Playoffs:
No. 5 Charlotte Catholic (8-3) at No. 4 Huss (9-2)
The Cougars are rounding into form at the right time as they’ve won six straight after beating Forestvie last week. Paul Neel cracked the 200-yard mark on the ground and scored three times while Jimmy Brewer added 111 yards and a touchdown.
The running game is how the Cougars like to win games this time of year, and they do it about as well as anyone.
The passing game is still a concern, though. Neel had one catch for 16 yards and was their leading receiver, which isn’t good. On the season, they average about 50 passing yards per game and complete less than half their throws. The Cougars have thrown for seven scores, but also have thrown nine interceptions, which will have to get tested soon.
Huss comes in winners of four straight during which they’ve allowed an average of seven points per game with two shutouts.
Like the Cougars, Huss loves to run the ball and averages about 200 yards per game. Quarterback Zo Wallace has thrown for 1,500 yards as well.
Lastly, Huss running back Lamagea McDowell, the team’s leading rusher, would love to knock his old school out of the playoffs.
Winner: Charlotte Catholic
NCHSAA 4-A Playoffs:
No. 9 Porter Ridge (7-5) at No. 1 Grimsley (10-1)
The Pirates delivered on their most telling barometer for wins and losses when they again went over 200 yards on the ground, which seems to almost always result in a win.
Brandon Perry carried the ball 30 times for 129 yards and three touchdowns to lead the way, but senior quarterback Mason Cox was more than efficient and turnover free while Andrew McClintock hauled in a 59-yard reception.
Senior Davidson Carroll had 14 tackles to lead a spirited defense, but they’ll need to be extra good this week against Grimsely, the top seed in the West.
Grimsley hasn’t scored less than 21 points in a game all season, and has gone over 50 in two of their past four games, all of which they won.
Seniors Quan Nora (214 carries, 1,557 yards and 221 TDs) and Christofer Zellous (144 carries, 1,330 yards and 17 TDs) form a nasty 1-2 punch in the run game while Zellous doubles as the quarterback and has thrown for 1,215 yards and 19 touchdowns. He’s a tough cover to say the least.
The Pirates will have to slow the game down on offense and get a few turnovers to prevail here.
NCHSAA 4-AA Playoffs:
No. 5 Ardrey Kell (11-1) at No. 4 Myers Park (11-0)
The Knights played just their third game of the season that was decided within 10 points when they took down Independence 25-17 last week. Ardrey Kell has won 11 straight since an opening-week loss to unbeaten Weddington, and they’re getting it done in a variety of ways. Quarterback Jared Joseph has turned himself into a star this season, and steady performers Cedric Gray and Michael Hetzel have done their part to power the Knights offense.
This week will be a different animal with a rested and talented Myers Park team hosting the Knights.
The Mustang offense has been explosive and high-scoring while the defense is on pace to potentially set school scoring records. With Richmond County possibly looming over the winner of this one, the Mustangs better not be looking ahead, but coach Scott Chadwick wouldn’t allow that to happen with the program he’s helped turn into a dynasty.
Winner: Myers Park