As we begin the journey through this year’s N.C. High School Athletic Association football playoffs this week, I’m reminded of a high water mark for Fayetteville and Cumberland County football that took place just 10 years ago.
 
On Dec. 13, 2008, at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan Stadium, the NCHSAA 4-A and 4-AA championship games featured three of our schools.
Coach Richard Bailey’s Jack Britt team lost a painful 35-32 decision to Richmond Senior in the 4-AA championship game, while Seventy-First coach Bob Paroli won his only state championship, beating the school where he made his mark in Cumberland County, Douglas Byrd, 28-7, in the 4-A game. The Eagles were coached by Russell Stone.
 
Is there another state championship contender lurking among our seven entrants in the NCHSAA playoffs this year? If there is, they’ll likely have to overcome some tough opposition and win at least a game or two on the road.
 
I’d love to see it happen again, but unless one or more of our teams shows a little more than we’ve seen from them in the regular season our chances are slim.
Then again, I love the movie Miracle about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, and I will never forget the amazing run of the 1991 South View team that had to get help from Westover to even make the state playoffs that year before running the table to the 4-A championship.
Let’s hope that kind of miracle can happen again.
 
The record: 76-24
 
Talk about crashing back to earth. I went a humbling 3-4 the final week of the regular season, dropping the total to 76-24, a miserable 76 percent. With the number of games to pick dwindling as we move forward in the state playoffs, getting back to 80 percent right is going to be a longshot.
 
Jack Britt at Seventy-First - Time was, when teams from the same conference were paired in the first round of the NCHSAA playoffs, they flipped the brackets so they didn’t have to meet. But that was ended a few years back when they decided that the seeds are the seeds and nobody gets a break.
This figures to be an emotional rematch considering how Jack Britt won the last time quite literally in the closing seconds. The Falcons were clearly stung by that defeat but regrouped to wrap up second place in the Sandhills Athletic Conference with a big home win against Pinecrest last Friday. I expect them to get another one this week.
Seventy-First 21, Jack Britt 14.
 
Wake Forest Heritage at South View - Both teams enter this game trying to rebound from losses. Heritage has actually dropped its last two games. But the Huskies played a difficult regular season schedule, including a meeting with 4-AA power Wake Forest. I think they’ve seen tougher opposition than South View this season and that is going to help them in this week’s game.
Wake Forest 24, South View 22.
 
Cape Fear at Southeast Guilford - A one-point loss in overtime at Northwest Guilford is the only blemish on Southeast Guilford’s record. They enter tonight’s game with an eight-game winning streak that includes a victory over perennial 3-A power Greensboro Dudley. Cape Fear had problems in its regular-season finale with Douglas Byrd last week and I don’t think things will get any better in Greensboro this weekend.
Southeast Guilford 24, Cape Fear 21.
 
Gray’s Creek at Northern Durham - County Stadium in Durham is one of the great high school football venues in North Carolina. It’s also one where I’ve had a lot of bad memories watching Fayetteville and Cumberland County schools getting their lunch handed to them in the state playoffs. I think Gray’s Creek can be competitive there tonight, but I still feel Northern Durham will have the edge.
Northern Durham 22, Gray’s Creek 18.
 
Northeast Guilford at Terry Sanford - I like Terry Sanford in this not just because the Bulldogs are good and on an emotional high coming off their big win at Gray’s Creek last week, but because of Northeast Guilford’s record on the road this season. They come to Terry Sanford this weekend with only one victory in six away games. The road trip to Fayetteville will be by far the longest one Northeast has made this season.
Terry Sanford 28, Northeast Guilford 14.
 
Asheville School at Village Christian - I think Village Christian can start clearing space in its collection of awards for a state football championship trophy.
Village Christian 30, Asheville School 14.
 
Other games: Pine Forest, bye.

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