1. Charlotte Christian (8-0)
Previous Ranking: No. 1
This Week: Providence Day (5-5)
The Knights played as poor of a first half as I’ve ever seen any Jason Estep-coached team play, but clawed their way out of a 26-6 halftime lead to stun Providence Day with a 33-32 walk-off win on a Garrett Shrader touchdown at the buzzer. As fate would have it, the Knights will turn right around and host the Chargers for a second straight week in the opening round of the NCISAA Division I playoffs. I wouldn’t expect the Knights to turn the ball over six times again like they did this week, and I expect it will be them in the state championship game in two weeks.
2. Charlotte Catholic (9-1)
Previous Ranking: No. 2
This week: Marvin Ridge (6-3)
The Cougars were expected to have trouble with Cuthbertson’s aerial attack, but instead dominated in a 42-7 win. Quarterback Chris Walton took to the air for three touchdowns and the Catholic offense dominated on the ground late. This week, the Cougars can close out their second consecutive unbeaten Southern Carolinas championship if they can get past the Mavs. Catholic won, 49-21, last season.
3. Butler (7-2)
Previous Ranking: No. 3
This week: at East Meck (1-8)
Butler is in a lull in its schedule, and it’s probably a good thing considering what that school community must be going through in the wake of this week’s deadly shooting. On the football field, the Bulldogs took care of Garinger 51-6 last week and should do the same to hapless East Meck this week. They will host rival Independence on Nov. 9 in a game that will have more meaning, but it’s a good thing they won’t have to do too much to beat the Eagles.
4. Myers Park (8-1)
Previous Ranking: No. 4
This Week: Independence (5-3)
Myers Park was expected to get a test against the ground and pound attack Porter Ridge uses, and did. But the Mustangs, who got huge games from quarterback Drake Maye and star receiver Elijah Bowick, were up to the challenge and walked away with a 28-23 win. This week, they get upstart Independence, a team that likes to air it out and will test Myers Park’s exceptional secondary. The Mustang defense may get tested for a quarter or two, but this is likely just Myers Park’s final tuneup for the playoffs.
5. Providence Day (5-5)
Previous Ranking: No. 5
This week: Charlotte Christian (9-0)
Providence Day came out with a stellar game plan against Charlotte Christian in the first half. Osita Ekwonu ran for over 200 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns and the Chargers forced five first half turnovers. Even when the Knights came all of the way back from 20 points to take the lead the Chargers didn’t give up and scored again. They nearly won the game, but a controversial call led to Garrett Shrader’s walk-off touchdown. Providence Day has no time to rest, however, as they travel back down Sardis Road again this week to open the playoffs.
6. Charlotte Latin (6-4)
Previous Ranking: No. 6
This Week: N/A
The Hawks are guaranteed a winning season in coach Justin Hardin’s first at the helm, but this team isn’t ready to hang up their jerseys just yet. After defeating Country Day 31-16 in the team’s regular-season finale behind two passing and two rushing touchdowns from quarterback Jake Helfrich, the Hawks open the NCISAA Division II playoffs with a first-round bye. The defending state champs will get either Country Day or Covenant Day in the second round of the playoffs on Nov. 9.
7. Country Day (5-5)
Previous Ranking: No. 7
This week: Covenant Day (6-4)
The Bucs tried to climb out of a 24-7 halftime deficit last week against Charlotte Latin and got the game to within one score before falling 31-16 despite 121 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Quentin Cooper. Country Day closed the regular season with a .500 record, but the Bucs are the No. 4 seed in the NCISAA Division II brackets, where they’ll take on No. 5-seed Covenant Day. The Bucs defeated the Lions 45-14 in their Oct. 19 matchup and would get a rematch with Charlotte Latin if they are to advance.
Also receiving votes: Independence (5-3)
– Andrew Stark