Each week, The News & Observer high school sports writers D. Clay Best and J. Mike Blake will be sharing their AP football ballots online with a few thoughts on each.
Best is the sports editor for three community newspapers owned by The N&O – the Garner-Cleveland Record, the Clayton News-Star and The (Smithfield) Herald. Blake is the sports editor of two – The Cary News and Southwest Wake News.
This week, the Clay returns just in time to give a quick lesson of how voting is supposed to work.
Argue the Western N.C./Charlotte superiority all you want and yes that’s still a great factor in determining these rankings, but at least pay attention to what happens ON THE FIELD. To review: Butler beat Mallard Creek, 28-27, Richmond County beat Butler, 55-54.
So what two things can we determine from these results:
1. These two hugely important games were very, very close between a trio of very talented and well-coached teams.
2. Richmond > Butler > Mallard Creek.
Why is that? Because the scoreboard tells so. And until there are statewide broadcasts of all the major games where we can watch every game that matters with our own eyes, results are all we have when trying to compare teams. So you don’t know nearly as much about the game as you think you do if your poll rankings do not reflect actual on the field results, and, therefore, you have no business voting.
Here endeth the lesson.
Elsewhere, like my colleague J. Mike, I try to step back a bit each week and analyze any positioning of teams in my polls that haven’t played each other. This week that was moving Butler ahead of Wake Forest. On second thought, I should have had Mallard Creek ahead of Wake Forest as well because of that lopsided state finals game last year and how much I think of the Cougars based on their carry over from last year and 38-point point differentials should have some lasting affect.
Well, nobody gets everything right every week, even those of us who actually pay attention to game results. I’ll try again next week.
Speaking of applause, here’s a slow clap for that AP voter who decided this was a good week to jump James Kenan over Wallace-Rose Hill. For those unaware, Kenan’s only loss this year was 45-33 to Wallace-Rose Hill, currently one of just four undefeated 1A teams.
Now on to my ballot.
I had no change in 4A, dropped Northern Guilford for Asheville in 3A, moved Reidsville down to 10th in 2A and brought in Albemarle for Mitchell County in 1A.
Dropping Northern Guilford is tough. The school has been open for six years and just lost its 10th game EVER. But there so many great 3A teams this year. Unless your slip-up was to a 4A power (read: Havelock), or another ranked 3A team, you’re gone if you lose. Eastern Alamance, Lee County and Freedom are three 3A teams who I don’t have ranked but could just as easily replace any team that suffers an upset loss.
I re-evaluated Reidsville, a 2A power who I kept fairly high because it had lost to Northern Guilford as well as a 4A team, and thought it was time to drop them some.
I’ve got an eye on undefeated Walkertown in 1A. But of their five wins, the best one so far is against a 3-3 team. They have played two NCHSAA charter schools who are relatively new to varsity football, a one-win team and a winless team. I would do as Clay has done and put in one-loss conference foe East Surry first before including Walkertown.
I think in the coming weeks, West Montgomery vs North Stanly vs Albemarle will have a huge impact on how much I shake up my 1A top 10.
|1. New Bern (10)||Richmond County||Richmond County|
|2. Richmond County (6)||Independence||Butler|
|3. Mallard Creek (2)||Butler||Wake Forest|
|4. Butler||Mallard Creek||Mallard Creek|
|6. Independence||Wake Forest||Independence|
|7. Mooresville||New Bern||New Bern|
|8. West Forsyth||Mooresville||Mooresville|
|9. Middle Creek||West Forsyth||Middle Creek|
|10. JH Rose||JH Rose||West Forsyth|
|1. Southern Durham (14)||Southern Durham||Southern Durham|
|2. Crest (3)||Crest||Crest|
|4. Northern Guilford||Concord||Southern Guilford|
|5. Concord||Erwin||Eastern Alamance|
|9. Weddington||Southern Guilford||Fike|
|10. Eastern Alamance||Asheville||Asheville|
|1. Southwest Onslow (13)||Southwest Onslow||Southwest Onslow|
|2. East Lincoln (1)||East Lincoln||Northeastern|
|3. Northeastern||Franklin||East Lincoln|
|4. Farmville Central||Shelby||Washington|
|5. Shelby||Northeastern||Farmville Central|
|6. Franlin||Farmville Central||Franklin|
|7. Newton-Conover (1)||Newton-Conover||Newton-Conover|
|9. Owen||Ashe County||Ashe County|
|1. Wallace-Rose Hill (16)||Wallace-Rose Hill||Wallace-Rose Hill|
|2. James Kenan (1)||Mt. Airy||James Kenan|
|3. Mt. Airy||James Kenan||Mt. Airy|
|6. Plymouth||West Montgomery||Plymouth|
|7. West Montgomery||Plymouth||Whiteville|
|T8. Murphy||North Stanly||Swain County|
|T8. Walkertown||Swain County||East Surry|
|10. Swain County||Albemarle||West Montgomery|