HUNTERSVILLE – The stakes just got higher in high school football.
Public school teams in the lake area begin the state playoffs Nov. 15. It’s a week after the private schools launched their postseason. Every team that was good enough to qualify for playoffs has the same goal – a state championship.
Six teams in the Herald area, with varying degrees of success, are in the playoffs. Here’s a preview:
• HOUGH (10-1): The Huskies will open the N.C. 4AA playoffs by hosting Independence, a team it edged by one point two months ago. Hough ended the regular season with a 24-14 win against Vance, which set a milestone.
“I’m excited for the kids – first 10-win season for the football program,” Hough coach Bobby Collins said.
The Huskies have what many successful playoff teams do – a balanced offense and aggressive defense. The lone bump, a regular-season loss at powerful Mallard Creek, could be avenged if both teams meet in the playoffs.
• HOPEWELL (6-5): This would have been hard to predict when the Titans were 1-5 and giving up way too many points. But coach Matt Jenkins’ squad has reeled off five straight victories, including two on the road, to snag a spot in the N.C. 4A playoffs. They’ll travel to High Point Central (8-3) for a Nov. 14 game because High Point Central shares a stadium with a team that’ll be using it for a Nov. 15 playoff.
Hopewell has two of the area’s speediest offensive players. Dominique Heath (committed to Kansas State) is a dynamic running back, wide receiver, kick returner and defensive back. Demitris Camp has several 100-yard rushing games.
• SOUTHLAKE CHRISTIAN (10-1): The Eagles, seeking their first state championship, will host Victory Christian in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III final Nov. 15.
It’s a rematch of last year’s title game, which Victory Christian won 26-21 on a long touchdown pass in the final minute. SouthLake has scored 30 points or more in all 10 games it played this season (one victory came via forfeit). The potent offense features sophomore running back Robert Washington Jr., and the Eagles have used a run-first mentality that wasn’t present the past few seasons.
• DAVIDSON DAY (10-1): If you like scoring, this is a team to watch. The Patriots are seeking their third straight NCISAA championship. The first round was a 59-0 romp. This week is the semifinal. Will Grier threw nine touchdown passes last week to six different receivers.
Davidson Day averages 50.2 points per game, which is close to what its done the past two seasons. The difference now is an improved defense, which has limited six opponents to six points or less. Grier’s 62 touchdown passes leads the nation.
• LAKE NORMAN CHARTER (5-6): It’s been an up-and-down season for the Knights. They started 5-0 in their pre-conference schedule, but were overmatched when they launched Big South Conference 2A/3A games. Charter went 0-6 in the conference and was outscored 297-34. The good news is they had enough wins to get into the 2A playoffs. Bad news? The first-round game is on the road against Winston-Salem Carver, which is serious state championship contender. But, in the playoffs everyone’s 0-0, right?
• COMMUNITY SCHOOL OF DAVIDSON (4-7): The Spartans battled to a 1A playoff spot by winning three of their last four games. That gave them a 3-2 record in the South Piedmont 1A conference, and a home playoff berth against West Columbus (2-9).
CSD, playing its first full varsity schedule, worked through some midseason injuries to key players. Coach T.J Albert’s squad is a scrappy bunch headed in the right direction. In their first playoff game, they could well earn their first playoff victory.