|A simple playoff goal: Win, advance|
|Chase for N.C. football titles start Friday|
|Published Thursday, November 14, 2013 7:27 am|
It’s the first week of the N.C. football playoffs and the only thing that matters is advancing.
|Independence High running back Isaiah Robinson (right) will lead the 7-4 Patriots into the first round of the N.C. 4AA playoffs against 10-1 Hough. The winner advances to face the Olympic-Butler winner.|
The formula is familiar at this time of the year: Win or go home, with all but one out of a 32-team 4AA field walking off in December as a state champion. The same goes for the 4A bracket.
Mallard Creek is seeded No. 2 in the 4AA draw but the favorite to win the state championship, a goal they’ve focused all season. There are upstarts, like Hough and old stalwarts like Butler – both of which lost to Mallard Creek in the regular season.
“This is the best crew I’ve ever been around as friends and teammates,” Mavericks senior nose guard Ikeem Allen said after Mallard Creek flattened North Mecklenburg 55-7. “We’re all hungry and we’re going to go out and get it.”
In the 4A draw, Charlotte Catholic and Rocky River are in the mix. Catholic made the field in its first season in 4A while Rocky River is a newcomer as well. Below are the first-round pairings with records in parentheses.
A.L. Brown (7-4) @ Charlotte Catholic (9-2). The fourth seed Cougars are in their first 4A tournament, and there’s no secret Catholic’s success lies with tailback Elijah Hood, a North Carolina recruit.
• Pfafftown Reagan (7-4) at Rocky River (9-2). The N. 3 seed Ravens were a surprise factor in the Southwestern 4A race. Can they notch the school’s first playoff win as well against the Reagan Raiders?
• Hopewell (6-5) @ High Point Central (8-3). The Titans have been up and down all season, but no game will be bigger for the No. 12 seed than this one.
• Vance (5-6) @ West Forsyth (10-1). The No. 16 Cougars play in the same league as Mallard Creek and Hough, so they won’t be intimidated. On the other hand, they’ll need to conjure up some upset magic to get away with a win.
• Independence (7-4) @ Hough (10-1). The fifth-seed Huskies have some swagger, but Independence has the name and pedigree. Patriots running back Isaiah Robinson is underrated and the key to giving Independence a chance to spring an upset along with the defense.
• Olympic (7-4) @ Butler (8-3). The No. 4 seed Bulldogs are a bit down but still one of the state’s marquee programs. Olympic has its work cut out against a still-prolific offense.
• West Mecklenburg (9-2) @ Providence (7-4). West Meck, seeded 10th, will probably be a little salty not to draw a home date against an opponent with two fewer wins. The Hawks have lots of offensive firepower to prove their point while Providence’s best asset is its defense.
• Ardrey Kell (6-5) @ Mallard Creek (11-0). This has mismatch written all over it, but don’t get too carried away. Mallard Creek, No. 1 in the Magnificent Seven and tops in the state, starts a sophomore quarterback in James Smith. It’s his first time under the glare of playoff football, so 15th seed Ardrey Kell needs to get off quickly.
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