FootballIt didn’t take long for what was already a rugged work week to become next to impossible.

Things started tough on Tuesday when I spent nearly two hours in a dental chair with a patient hygienist who tackled my messy molars.
To make matters worse, I was facing a stack of early deadlines for Up & Coming Weekly caused by the rapidly-approaching Thanksgiving holiday.

Then Mother Nature threw us all a curve with a nasty weather forecast for the first Friday of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s football playoffs. 

As of this writing on Wednesday afternoon, three local schools have switched nights. E.E. Smith at Southern Nash, Wilson Fike at Terry Sanford and Durham Riverside at Seventy-First will play tonight, Thursday, at 7:30 p.m.

Of the remaining games, only the Knightdale at Jack Britt game is unlikely to move from Friday according to a statement from athletic director Michael Lindsay.

As for the rest, as of this writing, they are still scheduled Friday at 7:30 p.m. Follow me on Twitter @EarlVaughanJr for the latest updates on the status of all of this week’s county playoff contests.
The record: 63-19
The last week of the regular season was a cold cup of water in the face. I struggled to barely break .500, going 4-3. The good news was I got to 60 wins before I got to 20 losses for the year, putting my season count at 63-19, 76.83 percent. Here’s to a much better effort in the playoff openers this week.
• E.E. Smith at Southern Nash - They’re still glowing at E.E. Smith after that shocking 43-0 rout of Cape Fear that likely gave Smith the final push needed to make the state playoffs.
But I think the glow will be short-lived when the Golden Bulls arrive in Bailey for their game with the Firebirds.
To say Southern Nash is loaded is an understatement. The Firebirds are 11-0 and ranked No. 6 in the MaxPreps 3-A state rankings.
I hope the magic continues for Smith, but don’t count on it. 
Southern Nash 31, E.E. Smith 7.
• Wilson Fike at Terry Sanford - Terry Sanford did a quick rebound from its loss to South View, topping Pine Forest.

Wilson Fike, a team with a rich if not recent tradition in North Carolina high school football, makes the trip down I-95 to visit the Bulldogs in their temporary home at John Daskal Stadium at Reid Ross Classical High School on Ramsey Street.

You’re not supposed to compare scores of common opponents but who can keep from doing it, especially at this time of year? 

Terry Sanford and Fike both played Rolesville and both lost. But the Bulldogs were on the short end of a 34-28 score that went down to the last minute. Fike dropped a 34-13 decision in late August.
I think the Bulldogs are a safe pick this week.
Terry Sanford 32, Wilson Fike 8.
• Cape Fear at Cleveland - Cape Fear appeared to be peaking for a good run in this year’s state playoffs until last week’s debacle against E.E. Smith. I don’t recall getting so many calls after a game from people who wanted to know what in the world happened to the Colts.

From all that I heard, it was a perfect storm of Smith playing at the top of its game and everything falling apart for Cape Fear.

If that happens again this week it could be more of the same for Cape Fear. Cleveland is a solid team with only a loss to always tough Cardinal Gibbons.
Cape Fear will have its hands full traveling there.
Cleveland 29, Cape Fear 12.
• Gray’s Creek at Southern Durham - Southern Durham hasn’t lost since a season-opening 26-13 defeat to once-beaten Cleveland. Southern also got a 21-18 win at Seventy-First.
I don’t think the Bears are going to have an enjoyable visit.
Southern Durham 27, Gray’s Creek 12.
• Pine Forest at Heritage - Heritage was riding a five-game winning streak until it ran into powerful Wake Forest and fell 52-26 on the road last week.
I think they’ll bounce back this week against a Pine Forest team that hasn’t been able to sort out its defensive problems all season.
Heritage 34, Pine Forest 8.
• Durham Riverside at Seventy-First - Seventy-First came back from an inconsistent stretch much of the season to get a big conference win over Jack Britt.
If the Falcons can continue that momentum tonight, the home field edge should give them a boost against visiting Riverside.
Seventy-First 21, Durham Riverside 14.
• Knightdale at Jack Britt - This could be the closest matchup of the night on paper as both teams bring a lot of similar numbers into the game.

My biggest worry for Britt is if they can shake off whatever was bugging them last week against Seventy-First that resulted in a season-ending defeat.
Home field counts for a lot at playoff time, especially on a night when bad weather may come into play.

Here’s hoping all of that works in Britt’s favor.
Jack Britt 28, Knightdale 21.
• Bye - South View. The Tigers, the No. 2 seed in the 4-A East, will host the Knightdale-Jack Britt winner on Friday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m.

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