Two N.C. High School Athletic Association football championship games will be played at Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium next fall, the NCHSAA announced Thursday. Duke has not hosted an NCHSAA football championship since 2006.
Two games moving to Duke will mean the eight championship games will now be evenly divided among four venues, according to the NCHSAA release. N.C. State, Wake Forest and North Carolina will continue to host title games.
Hidden in that detail is a little clarity on how the NCHSAA will handle its football playoffs next year given a new realignment that puts fewer teams in 4A than previous years.
The NCHSAA subdivides its football playoffs. Out of 64 4A playoff teams, for example, the largest 32 teams play in the 4AA bracket and smaller 32 play in a 4A bracket. The same is done for 3A, 2A and 1A.
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Next year’s realignment places fewer schools in 4A, dropping it from a group of a little more than 100 to about 76. It wasn’t certain whether or not the NCHSAA would continue to subdivide its bracket for 4A. That appears to still be the case, but whether it’s 64 teams divided into 32-team brackets, or 48 teams into 24-team brackets, will be decided next month at the annual board of directors meeting.
NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker said the Triangle Sports Commission approached the NCHSAA about possibly adding Duke as a championship host. She said in a statement that the NCHSAA was eager to work out an arrangement.
“After touring the facility and seeing the many upgrades and improvements Duke has made since 2006, the decision to again include Durham and Duke in the championship schedule was an easy one,” she said.
Triangle Sports Commission CEO Hill Carrow said championship teams “are going to enjoy competing in essentially a brand new venue.”
N.C. State and Wake Forest have traditionally hosted three games on Saturday in recent years, and North Carolina has hosted a Friday night championship and one more on Saturday afternoon. The exception to the rule came when the year Kenan Stadium was under renovation in 2014. Wake Forest and N.C. State each hosted Friday night games as well as a trio of Saturday games that year.
This year’s state finals are scheduled for Dec. 9.