If there were a way to bet on high school football games, I would have made a lot of people a lot of money with my weekly predictions. Unfortunately, my game picks were just for fun, because I sure could have used the money.
All year long I’ve been – at least most of the time – picking game winners and calling upsets around the high school landscape.
But this is playoff time, so I’m shaking it up.
Here are three quick facts about each area game and the outcome as I see it.
No. 13 Monroe (6-5) at No. 4 Huss (8-2); NCHSAA 3-A
• The Redhawks’ offense had one of its toughest performances last week when four turnovers led to a big loss at Parkwood.
• Monroe sophomore receiver Shaleak Knotts could go over 1,000 receiving yards in this game and running mate Salen Streater could eclipse 800 or more since there should be plenty of passing in this one.
• The Huskies have won three straight games, during which they’ve outscored their opponents 73-7 and pitched two shutouts.
No. 11 Parkwood (7-4) at No. 6 Northeast Guilford (9-2); NCHSAA 3-A
• The Rebels had their best conference run in at least a decade with their fourth-place finish they cemented by beating rival Monroe in an emotional 17-14 win.
• Brock Cain completed 54% of his passes and threw 15 touchdowns to just four interceptions for the Rebels and ran for 583 yards and 15 scores. If there was a most improved award, he’s atop my list.
• The Rams have won six straight games. They don’t wow you offensively on most nights, but they play hard-nosed defense and have a lot of guys to move the ball on the ground.
Winner: Northeast Guilford
No. 12 Forestview (6-5) at No. 5 Charlotte Catholic (7-3); NCHSAA 3-A
• Paul Neel has rushed for over 1,000 yards and leads a team that has churned out more than 2,000 rush yards. Conversely, the Cougars have thrown for just over 400 yards with six touchdowns to nine interceptions. You have to think that will haunt them at some point.
• Catholic junior linebacker Liam Barbee has 118 tackles on the season and averages more than 13 per game. He leads a very good linebacking core that keys this elite defense.
• Forestview has a similar offensive strategy with running backs Jamarian Dawkins (1,048 rush yards and 14 TDs) and Camury Reid (773 yards, 11 TDs) dominating the action. However, they’ve had better success throwing the ball.
Winner: Charlotte Catholic
No. 16 South Iredell (5-6) at No. 1 Weddington (11-0); NCHSAA 3-AA
• Junior running back Will Shipley is averaging more than 10 yards per carry and has already amassed 1,600 yards and 26 touchdowns despite taking many fourth quarters off.
• Weddington QB Dante Casciola has been steady since taking over the role this season. On the year, he’s thrown 20 touchdowns to just five interceptions, and the Warriors can use Dusty Mercer as a “change-of-pace” at the position.
• South Iredell started this season with a 2-6 record but won their final three to get in. Getting Weddington to open the playoffs isn’t much of a reward, though.
No. 12 Marvin Ridge (6-5) at No. 5 Northwest Cabarrus (10-1); NCHSAA 3-AA
• Marvin Ridge Junior quarterback Sully McDermott has done a really nice job in his first year as a starter. He’s already thrown for 2,145 yards and 22 touchdowns and will be one of the top players back at his position next year.
• The Mavs have had a bunch of near-misses this season with thee of their losses decided by 11 points or fewer. I bet coach Aubrey Carter has them ready, especially after just missing an upset over Catholic last week.
• Quarterback Nick Wilds-Lawing is a dual-threat problem for the Mavs. If they contain him, they have a shot.
Winner: Northwest Cabarrus
No. 15 Cuthbertson (5-6) at No. 2 Watauga (10-1); NCHSAA 3-AA
• The Cavs are stumbling into the postseason after losing four of their past five games, but it speaks volumes that first-year coach Trey Kavanaugh was able to get them here. The future is bright.
• Sophomore receiver AJ Colombo leads the Cavs in receptions (46) and yards (494) and is certainly a name to keep an eye on. His three sisters are sports stars who have either graduated from or attend Charlotte Latin.
• Watauga has only thrown 59 passes this season, but running backs Anderson Castle (1,697 rush yards and 26 TDs), Jaiden Bond (1,081 yards, 13 touchdowns) and Jake Watson (485 yards and 14 TDs) help offset that for a team that averages nearly 400 rushing yards per game.
No. 9 Porter Ridge (6-5) at No. 8 Lake Norman (6-5); NCHSAA 4-A playoffs
• Senior quarterback Mason Cox threw a season-high 26 times in last week’s wild game against Hickory Ridge and made the most of it with season highs in completions (14), yards (227) and touchdowns (three).
• The barometer for the Pirates has traditionally been their run game. If Brandon Perry and company can approach 200 yards on the ground, chances are they win. If not, they usually don’t.
• Lake Norman has its first winning season since the 2016 team finished 12-1, but the Pirates could spoil that. Watch out for junior linebacker Tanner Schmidt, who leads the team in tackles, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries.
Winner: Porter Ridge
Metrolina Christian (8-3) at Providence Day (7-3); NCISAA Division II championship
• Providence Day has played in and lost two state championships during the past two seasons, although both were to Charlotte Christian in Division I. Maybe the third time, in a lower division, is the charm?
• Jadus Davis has already eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season and has caught 36 passes for 719 yards and six touchdowns, all of which are team highs. He also has 26 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries on defense for Metrolina.
• The Chargers won the first meeting 41-10 by wearing on the Warriors and getting pressure up front, something the Warriors must avoid to have a shot.
Winner: Providence Day
No. 11 Union Academy (6-5) at No. 6 Swain County (9-2); NCHSAA 1-AA
• Isaac King has turned into a star for the Cardinals. This season, the junior running back has averaged 13.0 yards per carry, ran for 1,751 yards and 21 touchdowns while topping 100 yards in eight of 11 games.
• Conversely, the Cardinals have completed just 51% of their passes although junior Adam Plyler has breathed a new life into the offense.
• Led by Bryce Sain (832 rush yards and nine touchdowns) and Damian Lossiah (724 yards and 15 TDs), Forestview has four runners over 400 yards on the season and has run for 250 yards per game while compiling 50 of their 56 scores on the ground.
Winner: Swain County