The worst high school football prediction I made was in 1982, although that miscalculation is rivaled by one I made this fall.
Ed Hiatt was the Millbrook coach in ’82, and during the preseason he kept saying he had a decent team. Larry Dodd was a decent runner. He expected a decent season.
Based on my definition of decent and the fact the team had not been stellar the year before, I picked Millbrook in the preseason to lose every conference game.
The Wildcats, of course, were undefeated in the league, and Dodd earned a scholarship to N.C. State.
“I told you we were going to be decent,” Hiatt said later.
Obviously he was using “proper and fitting” as his definition, and I was using “respectable.”
No excuse for me this year, though. I picked Erwin Triton to finish the regular season 10-1 and win the Two Rivers 3A. They finished 0-11.
And I missed badly on South Johnston. I guessed the Trojans would go 0-5 in the Two Rivers 3A. They finished 4-1 in the league and tied for the conference title.
West Johnston was a miss, too. Picked it to go 1-6 in the Greater Neuse River 4A, but coach Jimmy Williams helped the Wildcats to a 5-2 conference record and an 8-3 overall.
On the other hand, nine of the teams ranked among the N&O’s preseason top 10 still are ranked among the Top 15. Southern Durham and Wake Forest have been Nos. 1 and 2 since the first ranking Aug. 22.
The accuracy of the prediction that this season would be special has been borne out by the play of running backs Bryce Love of Wake Forest, Johnny Frasier of Princeton and Nyheim Hines of Garner. It is unlikely the area will have a trio like them again.
But the prediction that this season would be special still is unsure. The playoffs will determine if this will be a really memorable season.
There are all sorts of questions.
Will Southern Durham win the 3AA title again? Will Wake Forest return to the 4AA championships for the third time since 2010? Will a team from Eastern North Carolina win the 4AA title for the first since New Bern won in 2007?
Will a Wake County team win for the first time since 1987? Can Hillside overcome its early stumbles and add a 4A title to the one it won in 2010?
Can Frasier, who might be the best running back prospect in the country, help Princeton to the 1A title?
Twelve of the 16 teams in the 4AA East are from Wake County. The Southwest Wake Athletic 4A is guaranteed, unless something unusual happens, to have a team reach the third round. The advancing Southwest Wake Athletic 4A team is guaranteed to face another Wake County team in the third round if Garner beats a 5-5 Wilmington Laney team Friday.
And if Garner beats Laney, the county will have a team in the semifinals because all four first-round survivors in the bottom bracket would call Wake County home.
It has been a good season. We’ll know soon if it is remarkable.