Prep football: Three Rowan teams host playoff games
By Adam Houston
The brackets for the N.C. High School Athletic Association football playoffs are official. Four teams from Rowan County made it into the postseason as well as the squads from Davie County and A.L. Brown. The first round of the state playoffs is Friday, and the state championship games are the second weekend of December.
Central Carolinas Conference champion North Rowan and league runner-up Salisbury will both host first-round games in the 2A West.
The Cavaliers (9-2) grabbed the No. 5 seed and open against No. 12 Burnsville Mountain Heritage (6-5). North Rowan won the league title Friday with a dominating 47-7 win over Salisbury at Ludwig Stadium. The Cavaliers go into the postseason riding a seven-game winning streak after losing back-to-back games in September.
“Now, it’s about trying to win survive and advance,” head coach Joe Nixon said. “It’s a five-day season right here.”
The Hornets stumbled out of the gate, but they won four of their final five games. The state rewarded that with a No. 8 seed and a first-round game against No. 9 Surry Central (7-4). Despite the Hornets’ early struggles, they ended up about where head coach Ryan Crowder thought they would.
“We knew after [Friday’s] game, we’d fall somewhere in the eight or nine range, and I thought we had a 75 percent chance we’d be at home,” he said.
The top seed in the 2A West went to Black Mountain Owen. The War Horses (10-0) are the champions of the Southern Highlands 1A/2A. If Salisbury wins Friday, it likely heads west into the mountains to play Owen.
The 2A West also includes No. 2 Reidsville (9-2), No. 3 Shelby (9-2) and No. 4 Mount Pleasant (9-2).
“I think the 2A West is a pretty dag on stacked bracket,” Crowder said.
Concord, West Rowan and East Rowan represent the South Piedmont in the 3A West playoffs. The undefeated Spiders, winners of the league championship, are the No. 3 seed and open at home with No. 14 Waynesville Tuscola (5-6).
West Rowan (7-4) finished tied for third with Cox Mill (7-4), but the Chargers held the head-to-head tiebreaker. They are the eighth seed in the 3AA West with a first-round matchup with No. 9 North Forsyth (5-6).
West Rowan is at home against No. 9 North Buncombe (7-4). The Falcons dominated Hickory Ridge on Friday, but they go into the postseason with three losses in their last four games.
“We’re so inconsistent,” head coach Scott Young said. “When we play our good brand of football — goes on the road and beats Davie County, beats Central Cabarrus handily at homecoming, beats Hickory Ridge last night — we can be a tough out for anyone in the entire bracket.
“When we play a bad brand of football — like where East Rowan smashes us at home or Concord beats us without being competitive — we can lose to anyone in the bracket.”
East Rowan (5-6) entered the final week regular season in a three-way tie for third. The Mustangs’ loss to South Rowan on Friday knocked them down to fifth. The state association seeded the Mustangs 15th in the 3A West, and they travel to No. 2 Morganton Freedom (10-0-1).
The No. 1 seed in the 3A West went to Shelby Crest (11-0).
Davie County and A.L. Brown are both headed to the 4A West.
Davie County finished fifth in the Central Piedmont 4A after losing to Mount Tabor. The War Eagles (6-5) are the No. 14 seed, and they are at No. 3 Charlotte Catholic (10-1) on Friday.
A.L. Brown, which finished fourth in the Mecka, is one spot below the War Eagles with a No. 15 seed. The Wonders (6-5) hit the road Friday at No. 2 Pfafftown Reagan (10-1). Reagan won the Central Piedmont Conference championship on Friday.
Adam Houston: 704-797-4287; twitter.com/AdamRHouston