FRIDAY’S BEST PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
• CLASS 4-A WEST, NO. 6 MOORESVILLE (7-5) at NO. 3 RAGSDALE (5-6): Mooresville held off Page in the first round this year and was beaten by Grimsley in the second round last season, so the Blue Devils are familiar with the Metro 4-A. They face a Ragsdale team whose best moment of the season may have been a loss. The Tigers gave top-seeded Grimsley all it wanted in a 33-25 Whirlies victory Nov. 1 in which senior QB Alston Hooker showed what he's capable of doing as a passer. It's Ragsdale's defense that will determine how long this playoff run lasts.
• CLASS 4-A WEST, NO. 9 INDIAN TRAIL PORTER RIDGE (7-5) at NO. 1 GRIMSLEY (10-1): Porter Ridge edged Page 28-27 last year on its way to the Class 4-A West final, but this team is much more balanced than last year's run-first (-second and -third) Pirates were. That's probably good news against a Grimsley team that is stingy against the run and has had a week off to get healthy and prepare for this second-round matchup. The Whirlies are eager to get back to playing football.
• CLASS 3-AA WEST, NO. 6 MOUNT TABOR (8-4) at NO. 3 DUDLEY (10-2): Dudley's playoff run of rematches continues with another Piedmont Triad 3-A opponent in the second round. The difference is that unlike Southwest Guilford, Mount Tabor beat the Panthers during the regular season. That 21-20 setback Oct. 18 that cost Dudley the outright conference championship and remains fresh in the Panthers' minds. Expect a defensive battle that might be decided by special teams.
• CLASS 3-AA WEST, NO. 13 NORTHERN GUILFORD (8-4) at NO. 5 NORTHWEST CABARRUS (11-1): While the records say this one is a bit of a mismatch, the transitive property says Northern Guilford has a great chance of pulling an upset in the Nighthawks' second visit to Concord in as many weeks. Northern rallied for a 39-35 win Friday at Cox Mill — the same Cox Mill team that handed Northwest Cabarrus its only loss Nov. 8. Expect another high-scoring game.
• CLASS 3-AA EAST, NO. 6 SOUTHEAST GUILFORD (9-3) vs. NO. 3 SOUTHERN DURHAM (10-1) or NO. 14 HOPE MILLS GRAY'S CREEK (7-4): Regardless of which team wins today's game, Southeast Guilford will have to do more offensively than it did in Friday night's 13-6 win over Clayton. Southern Durham averages 32 points per game and Gray's Creek averages 33.4. QB Zion Fleming's continued improvement would be a good place to start for the Falcons, and freshman Cameron Williams looks like a breakout star in the playoffs.
• CLASS 3-A WEST, NO. 6 NORTHEAST GUILFORD (10-2) at NO. 3 ASHEVILLE A.C. REYNOLDS (10-2): A.C. Reynolds averages 45.4 points per game and has beaten opponents by an average of 33.6, but the Rockets haven't seen a defense as good as the one the Rams throw at opponents. Coach Earl Bates' teams always seemed to be good for at least one signature win in the playoffs when he was at Morehead and Southern Guilford. A victory at Reynolds would just be the latest.
This week’s News & Record mini-helmet, presented by Riddell regional sales representative Lou Kovacevic, goes to:
• NYLES MOSLEY, senior, RB, Northern Guilford: Mosley scored two touchdowns, including the winner on a 9-yard run with about a minute to go as his Nighthawks rallied from an 11-point deficit twice to win at Concord Cox Mill, 39-35. Northern QB Will Lenard threw two TD passes to TE Michael Frogge and Slater Ward also played a big role with two field goals and an interception.
• LIONEL LONG, senior, RB, Reidsville: Long started the playoffs with a bang Thursday night, rushing for four touchdowns in the first half of the Rams' 57-0 rout of East Bend Forbush in Class 2-A West. Reidsville QB Kyle Pinnix did his part, too, throwing for three touchdowns to give him 40 for the season — five shy of the school's single-season record held by Kendon Doe.
• KOBIE PEREZ, junior, RB, Northeast Guilford: Sophomore RB Trevon Hester has gotten much of the attention this year for the Rams — and rightfully so — but Perez would start for many Triad teams. He showed why Friday night with 168 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries in a 35-23 win over Monroe Parkwood.
• CAMERON WILLIAMS, freshman, RB, Southeast Guilford: Williams announced his presence on the varsity level with authority in a 13-6 win over Clayton. The freshman caught a 24-yard touchdown pass, added a 39-yard reception, intercepted a pass and ran some plays at quarterback in the wildcat formation. What do you give a team that already has two outstanding underclassmen at running back, in Jalen Fairley and Derron McQuitty? Another small, speedy back.