Playoff picture still a bit murky

First Posted: 10/29/2014

ROCKINGHAM — With two games left in the regular season, now is the time for teams to position themselves for the postseason.

With 12 4A conferences sending at least three teams to the playoffs and another five getting two automatic berths, this means 46 of the 64 playoff spots will be locked in when the final whistle blows on Nov. 7. That leaves 18 places for at-large schools.

That number could increase by one if McDowell, one of two 4A schools in the Mountain Athletic Conference, elects to decline its automatic berth. The Titans are 1-9 this season and 0-5 in the MAC.

If McDowell does decide to keep its bid and take part in the playoffs, it wouldn’t be the only team with a losing record finding its way into the postseason. As of right now, Northern Durham, Page and Riverside will finish the regular season under .500, but earn an automatic berth into the playoffs based on conference finish.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association extends bids to the top three finishers in each conference and top two in split conferences.

Northern Durham is currently 2-7 overall and 2-1 in the PAC-6, tied with Riverside (3-6, 2-1). Northern Durham will face off with Jordan Friday, while Riverside will battle Person. The Knights and Pirates will square off in the season finale to possibly determine the No. 2 seed out of the PAC-6.

Closer to home, Richmond Senior (9-0) is in line to earn the overall top seed in either the East or West bracket if it can win out. Richmond will welcome Pinecrest to Raider Stadium 7:30 p.m. Friday before taking on rival Scotland to wrap up the season.

When the NCHSAA selects the 64 teams for the playoffs on Nov. 8, it will divide those schools based on its average daily membership into 4A and 4AA classifications. It will then place the 32 teams in each division into East and West brackets based on geography.

There are currently eight other undefeated teams along with Richmond on the 4A level and another 14 with one loss. Schools submit a record of 10 total games to the NCHSAA, dropping a non-conference contest if it played 11, for seeding purposes.

Because of this, there is a chance multiple schools could submit 10-0 records. The NCHSAA will attempt to break the tie by looking to see if teams played each other during the season. For example, in the case of Richmond and Butler, the Raiders would be seeded higher than the Bulldogs because of their 55-54 overtime victory.

However, that may not solve all of the seeding difficulties, so the NCHSAA would then utilize a draw.

East Chapel Hill forfeits final games

CHAPEL HILL (MCT) — Citing a lack of healthy players, winless East Chapel Hill High School has opted to forfeit its last two football games.

The Wildcats, who forfeited an Oct. 17 road game to Northern Durham, will not play at Durham Hillside Friday or host Durham Jordan on Nov. 7.

East Chapel Hill will end the season at 0-11 for the first time since 2008.

East Chapel hill has never finished a year with a winning record since the school opened in 1996. Then-head coach Bill Renner led the Wildcats to a program-best, 5-5 regular-season record in 2012, his last year at East before retiring as a school teacher. Jon Sherman was head coach for one year, going 3-8 at East in 2013, and then announced last May he would be taking an assistant coaching coach at Fayetteville Jack Britt.

Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 and follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.