Handful of teams in the race for top 4AA and 4A football seeds

tstevens@newsobserver.comOctober 9, 2012 

Editor's note: A story on Page 5C Tuesday incorrectly described the N.C. High School Athletic Association's football playoff seeding system. Teams that play 11 high school football games during the regular season may drop one nonconference loss from their record for seeding purposes. Teams that play 10 games may not drop a loss. Knightdale, Fayetteville E.E. Smith and Scotland will play 10 regular-season games and cannot drop a nonconference loss.

The race to earn a top seed in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA and 4A football brackets has been narrowed to a handful of the classification’s 100 teams with three weeks left in the regular season.

Garner and Leesville are unbeaten and Middle Creek has a loss that can be dropped for seeding purposes.

New Bern and Richmond County also are undefeated, but Richmond often plays in the 4AA West bracket and New Bern is expected to be in the 4A bracket.

If Middle Creek, which lost to Garner, finishes with one loss, it would be seeded the same as an undefeated team.

Scotland, Knighdale, Fayetteville Smith,l New Hanover, Wilmington Hoggard, Hoke, Wakefield and Wake Forest-Rolesville each has one loss that cannot be dropped for seeding purposes.

The NCHSAA will get the official average daily membership (ADM) from the Department of Public Instruction later this month, but last year New Bern, Fayetteville Smith and Scotland played in the 4A bracket and Knightdale probably will go to the 4A this season. The ADM is the average number of students enrolled in the school for the first weeks of school.

That leaves Leesville, Garner and Middle Creek contending for the No. 1 seed in the 4AA East if Richmond returns to the 4AA West and if the leaders win the rest of their games. Garner has the priority over Middle Creek if both are seeded as 10-0 conference champions.

Among the contending teams, Knightdale plays at Garner this week and Scotland plays at Richmond on Oct. 26.

The 4AA and 4A championships will be played at the University of North Carolina this season, but the semifinal games will be played at the higher seeded team.

Knightdale surprises: Knightdale enters its Friday night game at Garner with a lot of momentum after beating Southeast Raleigh 26-22 last week in a Greater Neuse 4A victory.

The Knights’ only loss was to Wakefield, 34-7. Excluding that game, Knightdale has scored 26 or more points in each game and have not allowed more than 22.

Marquavious Johnson (881 rushing yards) and Nathaniel Harvey (693 rushing yards) lead a running attack that averages 292.7 yards per game. Garner gets 301.1 on the ground.

Smithfield victory: Smithfield-Selma enters Friday night’s football game against rival Clayton in a spot it hasn’t been in for nearly two-and-a-half seasons – coming off a victory.

The Spartans halted a 26-game losing streak with a thrilling 21-16 victory over Harnett Central in front of a big homecoming crowd last week. SSS knocked two potential game-winning passes away in the end zone in the final seconds.

“The biggest difference in this game and the previous seven is that when things started to go bad, we were able to stop the bleeding,” said first-year Spartan coach David Lawhon. “We saw the kids not fold. We’ve been competing hard in every game but this was a different level of that.”

Lawhon and a basically all-new coaching staff made up of a handful of Spartan alumni have preached all season that mistakes are going to happen, no matter how well a team is playing. The key is how SSS players react to those mistakes.

“Do we bend or do we break?” Lawhon said. “We have to remember our first goal of the season, that’s to play as hard as we can for 48 minutes and as well as we can for those 48 minutes each time out.”

Smithfield eyes its first two-game league winning streak since 2008 and their first victory over the rival Comets since a 27-13 decision in 2006.

Corinth-Holders’ streak: Corinth-Holders, which is playing varsity football for only its second season this year, had never won a game before defeating Northwest Halifax 55-14 on Sept. 21.

The Pirates followed that win with a 48-28 win over Louisburg and beat perennial power Roanoke Rapids 28-3 last week.

Coach Barry Honeycutt’s club faces Northern Carolina 2A favorite Bunn this week. Bunn is 4-0 in the league and has outscored its league opponents 178 to 21.

Drop in for homecoming: Ravenscroft used a 40-yard by 40-yard American flag for its homecoming celebration last week and had the game ball delivered by sky divers.

Ravenscroft defeated Wake Christian 42-0.

Go-to guy: Sanderson quarterback Matthew Koehler completed nine of 20 passes for 115 yards in Friday’s 49-18 loss to Leesville Road. Marvin Motley caught all nine passes.

400-yard games: North Duplin’s Tyler Royal rushed 41 times for 425 yards in a 41-20 victory over Princeton. Royals had scoring runs of 9, 62, 56, 26, 20 and 92 yards.

Royals’ 425 yards is tied for No. 12 all-time on the NCHSAA single-game rushing list. The top game is 490 yards by Akile Jones of Lejeune last year in a 47-30 win over Lejeune.

Two weeks ago, Cleveland’s Isaac Marsh rushed for 404 yards and five touchdowns in a 53-26 win over Southern Wayne.

Marsh’s total is No. 20 on the all-time list. He leads area rushers with 206.5 yards per game. He has 1,652 yards and has scored 24 touchdowns this season.

Staff writer D. Clay Best contributed to this story

TSTEVENS: 919-829-8910

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