ROCKINGHAM — Despite losing to Pinecrest for just the third time in the 36-game rivalry, Richmond Senior was able to punch its ticket to the postseason Saturday afternoon.
The Raiders earned another trip to the playoffs when Purnell Swett knocked off Hoke County, 21-17. The Rams’ victory ensured no other schools in the Southeastern Conference besides Richmond, Pinecrest and Scotland would finish with more than two league wins.
The Fighting Scots, thanks to their shutout victory over Lumberton, are guaranteed to be seeded with the other conference winners when the brackets are released Saturday. Odds are Scotland will again be placed in the 4A playoffs, but the official Average Daily Membership numbers haven’t been released.
Richmond can still grab a piece of the SEC title, but it will need to win Friday at Pate Stadium. If the Raiders were to upend the Fighting Scots, then both teams would finish 4-1 in the conference.
Pinecrest could also earn a part of the crown with a win over Hoke County, moving the Patriots to 4-1 in the conference as well.
In this scenario, according to NCHSAA Deputy Commissioner Que Tucker, Scotland would submit a 9-1 record as a conference champion for the 4A, but then it gets a little tricky. Tucker said to break the tie between Richmond and Pinecrest for the designated 4AA conference winner from the SEC, it would come down to the head-to-head matchup. This would give the nod to the Patriots on the strength of their 21-7 win. The Raiders would be seeded with the other league runners-up.
However, if Hoke were to upset Pinecrest and Richmond were to win, then the Raiders and Fighting Scots would finish in a tie and both would be considered conference champions for seeding purposes.
That is the best case for Richmond.
A loss, no matter if Pinecrest wins or loses Friday, would cause the Raiders to tumble to third place in the SEC and seeded amongst the other third-place league finishers, while the Patriots would be second.
Tucker acknowledged there could be some confusion because Scotland more than likely will be placed in the 4A bracket. She said it is not the case of a split conference with schools from different classifications, but rather sub-divisions.
“We are going to take 64 teams then split them up according to the ADMs,” Tucker said. “We are going strictly by how they finished in the conference.”
Not including a handful of Monday games, there are 25 teams which have clinched a berth in the playoffs leaving 39 spots still up for grabs heading into the end of the regular season. Of those still available spots, 21 are designated for conference winners, runners-up and third place teams, the other 18 are for wild-card berths.
There are currently 39 teams with at least five wins and another eight with four victories which haven’t locked down their spot in the postseason. This means a team like Purnell Swett, with a 3-7 record going into Friday’s game with Lumberton, would need a great deal of help to try and earn a postseason berth.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.