×

First round state playoff advance: Intriguing matchups spice up this year’s abbreviated postseason

By Richard Walker

All four Cleveland County high schools and one from Lincoln County will embark on N.C. high school football state playoff journeys on Friday.

Omar Phillips is the leading rusher for two-time defending state champion Shelby as the Golden Lions and four other local teams begin the state playoffs on Friday.

Two schools – Kings Mountain and Shelby – start at home while Burns, Crest and West Lincoln will open on the road.

Unbeaten Kings Mountain (7-0), which won its 12 regular season title by defeating county rival Crest 28-7 last Friday, hosts Robinson in the Class 3A playoffs.

Shelby (5-2), which won its 39th league title this season, hosts Walkertown in the Class 2A playoffs.

Burns (5-2) visits Hibriten in the Class 2AA playoffs, Crest (6-1) visits Charlotte Catholic in the Class 3A playoffs and West Lincoln (5-2) visits Mount Pleasant in the Class 2A playoffs.

Crest and Shelby enter the 2021 spring postseason with the longest current postseason streaks at 28 years apiece. And Crest can set a state record for consecutive first round playoff wins with a victory on Friday; The Chargers are currently tied with Thomasville with 27-year first-round playoff victory streaks.

Here are the capsules for the area’s five first round playoff games:

Burns (5-2)
The matchup: at Hibriten (7-0)
Next up: Next Friday against winner of Salisbury at Maiden game.
The history: The teams have split two previous playoff matchups that were played at Hibriten. Hibriten won 62-28 in a 2016 second round game and Burns won 52-35 in a 2019 second round matchup.
Notes: Cam’Ron Sweezy (332 yards rushing, 944 yards passing), Lemont Wilson (518 yards rushing), Jeremiah Norris (499 yards rushing) and Ryan Thompson (31 catches for 444 yards receiving) are top Burns offensive weapons. Hibriten is making its 19th straight playoff appearance and has won five straight opening round games.

Crest (6-1)
The matchup: at Charlotte Catholic (5-1)
The history: Crest has beaten Catholic twice in postseason games – both on the road – in 2010 and 2011 in Western finals matchups. The Chargers won 31-10 in 2010 and 35-28 in 2011.
Next up: Next Friday against winner of West Rowan at A.C. Reynolds game.
Notes: Timothy Ruff (846 yards rushing, 474 yards passing), Caleb Borders (17 catches for 400 yards receiving) and Jarvarius Green (8 catches for 197 yards) are top Crest offensive weapons. Catholic is making its 20th straight playoff appearance, has 11 straight opening round postseason victories and the Cougars have won 15 straight playoff games.

Kings Mountain (7-0)
The matchup: hosts Concord Robinson (5-2)
The history: Robinson won 47-46 in overtime at Kings Mountain a 2017 third round playoff game in their only previous matchup.
Next up: Next Friday against winner of Monroe at Statesville game.
Notes: Rashaard Brooks (372 yards rushing), Caleb Holland (355 yards rushing), Jaylen Mims (319 yards rushing), Ethan Reid (907 yards passing), Orlando Odums (16 catches for 283 yards), Peyton Fisher (12 catches for 239 yards) and Chance Cannon (13 catches for 215 yards) are top Kings Mountain offensive weapons. Robinson is in the playoffs for the fifth time in six years and the Bulldogs’ 2017 playoff run was their best in history and also came when the head coach was current Lincolnton High coach Joe Glass.

Shelby (5-2)
The matchup: hosts Walkertown (5-0)
The history: First meeting.
Next up: Next Friday against winner of Bunker Hill at Hendersonville game.
Notes: Omar Phillips (705 yards rushing), Gabe Huitt (1,285 yards passing), Tyler Arrington (30 catches for 545 yards) and Luke Williams (19 catches for 283 yards) are top Shelby offensive weapons. Walkertown shared the Western Piedmont 2A Conference title and the Wolf Pack’s best season came in 2015 when it advanced to the Western N.C. 1AA championship game.

West Lincoln (5-2)
The matchup: at Mount Pleasant (7-0)
The history: First meeting.
Next up: Next Friday against winner of Forbush at Mountain Heritage game.
Notes: Grayson Barkley (502 yards rushing), Hunter Leonhardt (400 yards rushing), Mason Avery (278 yards rushing, 10 catches for 213 yards receiving) and Mason Huitt (246 yards rushing, 449 yards passing) are top West Lincoln offensive weapons. Mount Pleasant is making its eighth straight playoff appearance under the school’s winningest head caoch Michael Johns. Johns has guided the Tigers to a 141-129 record in his 22 seasons as head coach.

Friday’s other state playoff matchups:

Other NCHSAA postseason games

Class 1A
(East)
#1 West Columbus (2-3) vs. #8 Pamlico County (4-2)
#4 Rosewood (6-1) vs. #5 Northside-Pinetown (5-2)
#3 Bear Grass Charter (3-1) vs. #6 Perquimans (4-1)
#2 Northampton Co. (1-3) vs. #7 North Duplin (3-4)
(West)
#1 Elkin (5-1) vs. #8 Andrews (4-2)
#4 Murphy (6-1) vs. #5 Thomas Jefferson (6-0)
#3 Mitchell (6-0) vs. #6 Christ the King (4-3)
#2 Robbinsville (7-0) vs. #7 Winston-Salem Prep (5-2)

Class 1AA
(East)
#1 Tarboro (5-0) vs. #8 Manteo (2-4)
#4 John A. Holmes (5-0) vs. #5 Princeton (7-0)
#3 East Carteret (5-2) vs. #6 Hobbton (2-5)
#2 Louisburg (4-2) vs. #7 Lakewood (2-5)
(West)
#8 Polk County d. #1 North Stanly by forfeit
#4 North Rowan (4-2) vs. #5 Community School of Davidson (5-2)
#3 Pine Lake Prep (7-0) vs. #6 Mount Airy (4-2)
#2 East Surry (6-1) vs. #7 North Moore (4-3)

Class 2A
(East)
#1 Reidsville (6-0) vs. #8 Southwest Onslow (4-1)
#4 Wallace-Rose Hill (4-3) vs. #5 Red Springs (4-1)
#3 Northeastern (4-0) vs. #6 Kinston (5-1)
#2 Clinton (7-0) vs. #7 Eastern Randolph (4-1)
(West)
#1 Hendersonville (5-2) vs. #8 Bunker Hill (6-1)
#2 Mountain Heritage (4-1) vs. #7 Forbush (6-0)

Class 2AA
(East)
#1 Washington (5-1) vs. #8 South Granville (5-2)
#4 Croatan (6-1) vs. #5 McMichael (2-5)
#3 Southwest Edgecombe (5-2) vs. #6 Roanoke Rapids (5-1)
#2 St. Pauls (5-0) vs. #7 Randleman (7-0)
(West)
#1 North Davidson (6-1) vs. #8 Pisgah (6-1)
#4 Ashe County (7-0) vs. #5 Oak Grove (5-2)
#2 Maiden (6-0) vs. #7 Salisbury (5-2)

Class 3A
(East)
#1 Rocky Mount (6-1) vs. #8 Eastern Alamance (5-1)
#4 Terry Sanford (6-1) vs. #5 Western Alamance (7-0)
#3 Havelock (7-0) vs. #6 Southern Guilford (5-2)
#2 Northwood (5-2) vs. #7 West Carteret (5-2)
(West)
#1 A.C. Reynolds (6-1) vs. #8 West Rowan (4-2)
#2 Statesville (5-1) vs. #7 Monroe (5-2)

Class 3AA
(East)
#1 Cleveland (7-0) vs. #8 Southern Durham (5-1)
#4 J.H. Rose (6-0) vs. #5 Lee County (7-0)
#3 West Brunswick (5-1) vs. #6 Chapel Hill (5-1)
#2 Southeast Guilford (6-1) vs. #7 Clayton (6-1)
(West)
#1 Watauga (5-1) vs. #8 Dudley (6-1)
#4 A.L. Brown (6-1) vs. #5 T.C. Roberson (6-1)
#3 Weddington (6-0) vs. #6 Asheville (5-2)
#2 Mount Tabor (7-0) vs. #7 Alexander Central (5-2)

Class 4A
(East)
#1 Cardinal Gibbons (6-0) vs. #8 Pine Forest (4-2)
#4 Richmond (3-0) vs. #5 Middle Creek (6-1)
#3 New Bern (5-1) vs. #6 Scotland (4-1)
#2 South View (6-1) vs. #7 Jack Britt (4-1)
(West)
#1 Grimsley (6-0) vs. #8 East Forsyth (3-3)
#4 South Caldwell (3-2) vs. #5 Hillside (5-1)
#3 Glenn (5-1) vs. #6 Butler (6-1)
#2 Providence (6-1) vs. #7 Hickory Ridge (5-2)

Class 4AA
(East)
#1 Apex Friendship (7-0) vs. #8 Pinecrest (5-2)
#4 Millbrook (5-2) vs. #5 Wake Forest (5-1)
#3 Hoggard (7-0) vs. #6 Leesville Road (5-2)
#2 Rolesville (6-0) vs. #7 Holly Springs (4-3)
(West)
#1 Hough (7-0) vs. #8 Green Hope (4-1)
#4 Ardrey Kell (6-1) vs. #5 Z.B. Vance (6-1)
#3 Panther Creek (7-0) vs. #6 Olympic (6-1)
#2 Myers Park (7-0) vs. #7 Northwest Guilford (6-1)