If there were a way to bet on high school football games, I would have made a lot of people a lot of money with my weekly predictions. Unfortunately, my game picks were just for fun, because I sure could have used the windfall.
All year long I’ve been – at least most of the time – picking game winners and calling upsets around the high school landscape.
But this is playoff time, so I’m shaking it up.
Here are three quick facts about each area game and the outcome as I see it.
No. 10 Vance (8-2) at No. 7 Butler (8-3)
• Former South Meck quarterback Austin Grier is the signal-caller for the Cougars, who were upset last week by Hough or would have been seeded much higher.
• The last time these teams met, the Cougars won in a wild one 50-49, but Butler owns the series, having won nine of 11.
• Butler running back Jamal Worthy is 60 yards shy of 1,000 on the season. He leads the run-heavy Bulldog attack with 13 touchdowns.
No. 12 Independence (6-5) at No. 5 Ardrey Kell (10-1)
• The Knights have won 10 straight since opening with a loss to undefeated Weddington and claimed their second consecutive conference title.
• Once powerful Independence is back in the playoffs for the first time since the 2015 season and coach Mike Natoli deserves a ton of credit for the job he’s done.
• Ardrey Kell’s jack-of-all-trades Cedric Gray scored twice in the Knights come-from-behind 43-30 win earlier this season. Gray is sure to make an impact here as one of the state’s best two-way talents.
Winner: Ardrey Kell
No. 12 Forestview (6-5) at No. 5 Charlotte Catholic (7-3)
• Paul Neel has rushed for over 1,000 yards and leads a team that has churned out more than 2,000 rush yards. Conversely, the Cougars have thrown for just over 400 yards with six touchdowns to nine interceptions. Gotta think that will haunt them at some point.
• Catholic junior linebacker Liam Barbee has 118 tackles on the season and averages more than 13 per game. He leads a very good linebacking core that keys this elite defense.
• Forestview has a similar offensive strategy with running backs Jamarian Dawkins (1,048 rush yards and 14 TDs) and Camury Reid (773 yards, 11 TDs) dominating the action. However, they’ve had better success throwing the ball.
Winner: Charlotte Catholic
Metrolina Christian (8-3) at Providence Day (7-3)
• Providence Day has played in and lost two state championships during the past two seasons, although both were to Charlotte Christian in Division I. Maybe the third time, in a lower division, is the charm?
• Jadus Davis has already eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season and has caught 36 passes for 719 yards and six touchdowns, all of which are team highs. He also has 26 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries on defense.
• The Chargers won the first meeting 41-10 by wearing on the Warriors and getting pressure up front, something the Warriors must avoid to have a shot.
Winner: Providence Day
Myers Park (11-0) nets first-round bye