They call today Black Friday, but instead of waiting in lines at shopping malls, thousands of fans across the state will pack football stadiums to see what teams advance to next week’s state championship games and who prepares for basketball.
Every football coach in the state has the goal of practicing on Thanksgiving Day, and for thirty-two teams, they took time away from family dinners to go through final preparations for tonight’s semi-final match-ups.
Starting with the 4-AA, things will certainly heat up in Charlotte as the top-ranked Butler Bulldogs host Mallard Creek for the right to advance to Chapel Hill next Saturday. These two programs are no stranger to playing on the big stage as they opened the season against each other in a game also played at Memorial Stadium. Butler won that game 27-6.
The Bulldogs defeated East Forsyth last week 25-15 while Mallard Creek defeated Olympic 42-0. Both of these programs are used to playing this late in the season as Butler has won two state titles in the past three seasons and Mallard Creek is in their second consecutive regional finals game.
In the Eastern 4-AA bracket Brit will travel to Garner to face the Trojans for the second consecutive time in the regional finals and fifth time in the past seven years. Both teams have won twice against the other.
This will also mark the final home game ever at Trojan Stadium for long time head football coach Nelson Smith who announced his retirement earlier in the season.
In the 4-A West bracket Porter Ridge will travel to the Piedmont Triad region to face undefeated North Davidson. Blair Hardin’s Pirates will be attempting to make their second consecutive state championship game appearance while this is the deepest North has advanced since playing in the WNCHSAA championship game in 1975.
In the Eastern 4-A bracket Scotland and New Bern will clash once again for the right to advance to the state finals. Scotland defeated New Bern 61-28 a year ago but this is an entirely different Scots team with new coach Richard Bailey who came over from Jack Britt.
New Bern has dominated every team in their path but Scotland has steadily improved since losing to New Hanover in week-two.
Tonight in Statesville the Greyhounds will host Charlotte Catholic in the Western 3-AA regional finals in this battle between one-loss teams. Catholic is used to playing deep into the playoffs but this is Statesville’s first trip this deep since 1996.
This could be a game of speed versus power as Statesville is one of the most athletic teams in the state while Catholic brings junior running back Elijah Hood who steam-rolls over anyone in his path.
The winner of that game will face the winner of the Wilson Hunt at Northern Guilford contest as Northern Guilford is looking for their third consecutive state championship behind the legs of UNC bound T.J. Logan.
In the 3-A ranks, Concord travels to Morganton to face Freedom High School. This Concord team is making its deepest run in the playoffs since winning the championship in 2006. Shrine Bowl bound quarterback B.J. Beecher is on a roll as of late and with a win tonight could get closer to moving up on 2nd in the state career passing list.
In the 3-A East bracket Havelock will host Orange as the Rams look to advance to their second straight championship game and defend their crown from a year ago.
Coach Jim Bob Bryant’s squad has been perfect since a one-point loss to New Bern in the opening week of the season.
Last week Salisbury made an unbelievable comeback in the final minutes of the game to defeat High Point Andrews 36-35 to get veteran head coach Joe Pinyan his 100th win. Tonight they’ll have to face an equally tough challenger when Scott Miller brings his South Iredell Vikings to town.
South Iredell was touted as one of the top 2A teams in the state when the season began and they’ve got stronger each week after suffering two early-season losses. The Hornets offense has become very potent so this could be quite a battle.
In the 2-AA Eastern bracket Carrboro will travel to Jacksonville to face Northside. This battle of unbeaten teams is likely to be a battle of offensive power versus defensive strength.
This is the deepest Carrboro has ever advanced in their short history while Northside has been a consistent contender on a yearly basis.
In the 2-A West bracket East Lincoln will host Madison County as both teams are in search of their first state championship. Madison is the feel-good story of the state as they attempt to advance to the state finals after not posting a winning record in the last decade.
Tarboro looks to extend their grip on the 2A East as they host South Columbus in an attempt to advance to their fifth consecutive championship game and their fourth consecutive state title.
Coach Jeff Craddock’s Vikings have turned up the heat in recent weeks and look to be in full stride as they face Coach Jake Fonvielle’s Stallions who have won five-straight games entering tonight’s contest.
In the 1-AA ranks, Swain County will be attempting to reach their second consecutive finals appearance but they’ll have a tough task when Monroe rolls into Bryson City today. Monroe lost three games early in the year, two to teams still playing tonight, and will be the toughest test yet for the Devils.
In the 1-AA Eastern bracket we’ll see a monumental clash in Warsaw as the undefeated James Kenan Tigers host Southwest Onslow in the right to advance to the finals. Both teams are no strangers to the deep rounds of the playoffs.
We’ll see a rematch of a barn-burner from last year as Murphy will once again travel to Albemarle in the 1-A West finals. Murphy won the battle of the Bulldogs last year with a 42-41 victory en route to their state championship.
Albemarle, winners of ten-straight games are looking to advance to fifth championship game since 2000.
In the Eastern 1-A bracket, Plymouth will host Princeton. The 13-1 Vikings are rolling as of late while Princeton has made the unbelievable march to the regional finals after finishing the regular season 2-8.
In his first year, head coach Derrick Minor may have earned himself coach of the year votes after leading Princeton this far in his first year as a head coach.
You can follow CarolinaPreps.com on Twitter @CarolinaPreps1 for scores and updates from tonight’s games.
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