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Gallagher column: Looking over those prep football brackets

Getting ready for Friday’s playoff openers …Salisbury has never been known for whopping crowds but the Hornets will certainly see one when they travel to Canton for their first round game against Pisgah on Friday.
Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan said he has already been told to expect 7-8,000 fans on the home side.
“You talk about a town shutting down on a Friday night,” Pinyan said. “That’s what happens up there.”

Pinyan informs us that Salisbury will have a fan bus going to Canton. For $30, you get a ride to the mountains and a ticket to the game.
The bus leaves at 3 p.m. on Friday. To reserve a seat, pay in advance at the school office. The school will be taking reservations until 8 a.m. Thursday.

My favorite playoff names: Perquimans, Pasquotank and Croatan.
My favorite playoff nicknames: Jets, Sugar Jets and Warhorses.

When Franklin made the long drive to West Rowan for the playoffs back in 2000, it had a coach named Fred Goldsmith, formerly of Duke and currently of Lenoir-Rhyne.
Franklin comes back this Friday to face Scott Young’s No. 1-seeded Falcons.

There are always those negative people out there raking the NCHSAA over the coals for watering down the playoffs by splitting each classification into two championships.
Teams with losing records shouldn’t be in the playoffs, they cry.
Well, if you feel that way, don’t read this. A total of 31 teams with losing records made this year’s playoffs, including 13 in 1A.
There are 30 5-5 teams so that’s 61 teams without winning records playing for a state title.

And speaking of losing records, think 2-8 East Wilkes is really looking foward to playing 10-0 Thomasville.
The answer: Yes they are.
If I’m a senior football player, I want to get on the field as much as possible. Win or lose, I get to put on those pads one more time.

Odd fact: Two teams with losing records, Cape Hatteras (4-5) and Cherryville (4-6) were awarded home games.
And do you think Michael Johns is happy that his Mount Pleasant Tigers, with a 7-3 record, has to travel to 4-6 North Surry?

There is nothing greater than growing up beside your high school. I know. Our house was basically my high school’s back yard.
South Rowan coach Jason Rollins grew up beside his high school, too. And he’ll get to see it from the sidelines on Friday when the Raiders visit South Point.

It seems a little odd not to see North Rowan in the playoffs. And we really thought after about five weeks of the season that Carson would be a shoo-in to make it. Didn’t happen.
And East Rowan? Brian Hinson is really excited about his sophomore class and thinks he has some talent coming. So expect the Mustangs to make an appearance next season.

While 1A has the most losing teams, it also has the most 10-0 teams: seven. The 1AA West bracket looks like the toughest in the state with Thomasville, Murphy, Hendersonville and Albemarle all sporting 10-0 marks.

Toughest name to get on a jersey: Kill Devil Hills First Flight.

Some familiar names in the playoffs:
– Ken Avent Jr., a former quarterback at Catawba, coaches James Kenan, a 1A school and the No. 1 seed in 1AA, which brings a 10-0 record into the playoffs.
– Former East Rowan coach and Davie County quarterback Tom Eanes has his 6-4 Pender County Patriots hosting Southeast Halifax. Pender’s season ended last year against Kenan in the third round.
– Mount Pleasant’s Johns is a former East Rowan assistant.
– Todd Shuping, who grew up in Salisbury, has his 5-5 Providence Grove team in the playoffs.

More forfeit talk. After Salisbury was forced to forfeit four games, Pinyan got callls from coach Chris Deal at Lexington. Deal apparently thought Salisbury should’ve forfeited his game, too.
Rumors were that Deal was taking the tape to Chapel Hill. But he told a Post reporter on Friday he was not pursuing it.

And finally …
The most popular names are the schools beginning with East, West, North and South.
Just for the record:
– There are 11 Easts and three Easterns in the playoffs.
– There are 14 Wests and three Westerns.
– There are 10 Souths, two Southeasts, two Southerns, one Southwest and one Southern Pines.
– And then, there are the schools with “North” attached to their name.
There are nine Norths, three Northwests, two Northerns, two Northhamptons, one Northeast, one Northeastern and one Northside.
It doesn’t really matter which direction you’re headed, you’re bound to have a good time. It’s the playoffs.
So bundle up and go somewhere. And if you’re headed to little football towns like Canton, go early. If you don’t, you might not find a seat.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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