The high school season started back on Aug. 17, but Friday night marks the beginning of the so-called “second season” -- the playoffs.
The pressure is on the teams with high seeds to build on the success of the regular season and match the soaring expectations of fans.
At the other extreme, teams that come in 5-5 or 4-6 have at least a puncher’s chance to generate some postseason excitement. It’s a win-or-go-home scenario for all involved.
As Lincolnton coach Scott Cloninger always points out, it’s the best time of the year.
Let’s look into the crystal ball.
Wheatmore at East Lincoln: I did a Google search for Wheatmore, having never heard of the school. It’s located in Trinity, NC, Randolph County, and this is the third year of the school’s existence. One thing I do know: The Mustangs are prohibitive favorites … East Lincoln 49-7.
Lincolnton at Wilkes Central: The Wolves have made vast strides after a 1-4 start, and their schedule has been light years more challenging than Wilkes Central. Yet, this team may be too unseasoned to win a playoff game on the road against a good opponent. “Wait till next year” is the mantra here … Wilkes Central 21-14.
West Lincoln at South Iredell: Tough opener for the Rebels against perhaps the best team in the CVAC. However, a young West Lincoln squad benefits from another week of practice and another game. … South Iredell 35-12.
Cherryville at West Wilkes: It has been a strange, up-and-down season for the Ironmen. And they play this game without QB Darius Harris (out with a turf toe, according to reports) … West Wilkes 35-14.
Chase at Shelby: Thanks to the pod system, the Golden Lions and Trojans turn around and meet again after playing one another in the regular season finale. Same outcome too. … Shelby 43-7.
Thomasville at Maiden: Do not be fooled by Thomasville’s 4-6 record. The Blue Devils know not to look ahead. Should be low-scoring … Maiden 14-6.
Ashbrook at Crest: These teams locked up in a thriller during the regular season … Crest 38-28.
Forestview at Burns: “Goatgate” took away Burns’ home field advantage (the game will be played at Kings Mountain), so the Jaguars have a great chance for the upset … Forestview 28-21.
Berry Academy at South Point: No repeat of last year’s first-round stunner, when an unbeaten Red Raider team fell to Weddington … South Point 42-13.
Hunter Huss at East Henderson: One wonders if the Huskies can get up for this one after losing the battle for the victory bell to Ashbrook ... East Henderson 32-20.
Avery County at Lake Norman Charter: The high-scoring Knights face a potential second-round matchup against Hendersonville ... Lake Norman Charter 56-20.
Virginia at N.C. State: Nothing like a game against the last-place Cavaliers to ease the pain of the North Carolina loss … N.C. State 35-13.
Georgia Tech at Maryland: The “Who Cares” ACC game of the week … Georgia Tech 30-27.
Clemson at Duke: It will be difficult for the bowl-eligible Blue Devils to win another game. But they have six … Clemson 45-28.
Boston College at Wake Forest: The Deacons should have just enough at home … Wake Forest 21-20.
Alabama at LSU: No. 1 versus No. 5, but the Bayou Bengals are offensively challenged. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier raised eyebrows when he said ‘Bama could beat some NFL teams. The Tide is good, but not nearly that good … Alabama 20-9.
Oregon at Southern Cal: Could be the first of two meetings between these Pac-12 contenders … Oregon 49-35.
Oklahoma State at Kansas State: Major college upset special! Sooner or later, KState has to make some untimely errors. It could be in this game … Oklahoma State 31-28.
Ole Miss at Georgia: Bulldogs face the inevitable letdown after big win over Florida. Upset alert is indicated … Georgia 27-19.
TCU at West Virginia: Remember when the Mountaineers were undefeated and Geno Smith was the leading candidate for the Heisman? Seems like eons ago … West Virginia 45-31.
Last week’s record: 14-5. The season’s record: 137-37.