This is a little off the usual path for me, but I want to say a few words about the University of North Carolina’s hiring of Mack Brown as head football coach.
When Brown was first named head coach at UNC in 1988, he paid a visit to Fayetteville to meet with the head football coaches of our local high schools at the Haymount Grill.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend, the only media person there.
I had never met Brown in my life and only slightly knew who he was.
My memories of that evening are still vivid. Brown was cordial and outgoing, even to a media curmudgeon like myself. I was immediately impressed with his positive attitude and the way he treated everyone in the room with courtesy and respect.
There’s no doubt in my mind this attitude will immediately jump start his recruting efforts within the state’s borders, and hopefully bring an end to the high number of our top football stars who leave North Carolina to play college football elsewhere.
Oh, and one more thing I learned from a post I saw on Twitter today. Some naysayers are questioning whether at the age of 67 Brown may be too old to coach college football.
Brown was born in August of 1951. He’s just two months older than a guy who coaches in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. His name is Nick Saban.
The record: 85-25
The playoffs have been awfully kind to me, so far. I was 5-1 the first week and a perfect 4-0 last week, running the season total to 85-25, 77.3 percent.
South View at Seventy-First - Now that they are in different conferences, it’s been two years since South View and Seventy-First have met in football. The last time was Oct. 1, 2016, when Seventy-First beat South View 42-21 at Loyd E. Auman Athletic Field.
I don’t expect tonight’s margin to approach that as the two come in about as evenly matched as possible.
If you average the points for and points against totals of their common opponents this season, Seventy-First wins by the razor-thin margin of 27.3-27.
That’s the way I’m leaning in my prediction. True, South View has won two tough road games in the playoffs to get here, but I think the Falcons are familiar enough with the South View program to take the Tigers more seriously than the teams South View beat the first two weeks.
I also think Seventy-First has a clear edge on defense, and at some point in the playoffs making defensive stops is the key to advancing.
Seventy-First 22, South View 20.
Scotland at Pine Forest - I call this one the Dean Saffos Bowl. Both Pine Forest coach Bill Sochovka and Scotland coach Richard Bailey were together at Pine Forest on the coaching staff of retired Trojan head coach Dean Saffos.
Sochovka and Bailey know each other and their respective schemes and philosophies well, so I don’t look for either to pull any big surprises on the other.
I also know Sochovka isn’t focusing on the fact Scotland is a No. 10 seed to Pine Forest’s No. 3. The Scots have managed two road wins and Sochovka doesn’t want his Trojans to be victim No. 3.
The thing that impresses me most about Pine Forest, and it is the key to winning in the postseason, is defense. Sochovka felt before the season started that he had a lot of experience back on the defensive side of the ball, and the Trojans are proving his point so far in the state playoffs.
That plus enough offense to put points on the board will be critical against a Scotland team that is definitely capable of winning.
Pine Forest 18, Scotland 12.
Havelock at Terry Sanford - I’d love to pick a monster upset in this game, but everything I’m seeing on paper points to sticking with the painful truth. Havelock is loaded and has been for some time. It’s going to take the best game Terry Sanford has played this season, and for Havelock to have a bit of an off night, for the Bulldogs to win on the road.
It’s been another great season on Fort Bragg Road, but I think it will come to an end in Havelock on Friday night.
Havelock 24, Terry Sanford 12.