Saturday, 10 April 2021 19:37

BREAKING: No. 4 Raiders will host No. 5 Middle Creek to open 4A East playoffs

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The No. 4 Raiders will have a home playoff game on Friday, April 16 against No. 5 Middle Creek. The No. 4 Raiders will have a home playoff game on Friday, April 16 against No. 5 Middle Creek. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

CHAPEL HILL — High school playoff football will return to Raider Stadium this week for the first time since the West regional championship in Dec. 2019.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association released its finalized playoff brackets Saturday evening, slotting the Raiders as the No. 4 seed in the 4A East against No. 5 Middle Creek High School.

Richmond finished the spring slate with a 3-0 record, which put the Raiders atop the Sandhills Athletic Conference standings for the third straight season. 

The Middle Creek Mustangs finished second in the South Wake Conference with a 6-1 overall record, including a 5-1 mark against conference opponents.

Despite Richmond only playing three regular-season games, conference winners were determined based on a team’s overall conference winning percentage. 

Second-place Scotland High School (4-1) and fellow SAC team Jack Britt (4-1) also made the 4A East playoffs. Pinecrest High School (5-2) went to the 4AA East bracket.

For the first time since the NCHSAA started doing subdivided football playoffs in 2001, the Raiders will compete in the 4A bracket, not the 4AA subdivision.

Richmond will also return to the East for the first time since 2016, when it was a No. 3 seed that lost to No. 2 Garner Magnet High School in the second round.

“This has the potential to be a really fun postseason,” fourth-year head coach Bryan Till said. “The team is back in the playoffs for the first time year and a half and we’re really excited to be playing.

“We have been in the 4AA West for so long, it’s good to be playing schools that are in our conference or that are closer to us — that’s pretty neat,” he added. “Our kids are going to have to get ready for playoff football against some teams that are not Myers Park — teams we haven’t played back-to-back years. It’s a very different dynamic.”

This year’s playoff seeding features a newer, smaller format, which has 16 teams in each subdivision region (32 total), compared to the 24 teams that made each subdivision region (48 teams) in the 2019 playoffs.

The NCHSAA used a pre-determined draw procedure to name the top four seeds between Richmond, Cardinal Gibbons, New Bern and South View high schools. Cardinal Gibbons got the No. 1 seed, followed by No. 2 South View and No. 3 New Bern.

Rounding out the 4A East is No. 4 Richmond, No. 5 Middle Creek, No. 6 Scotland, No. 7 Jack Britt and No. 8 Pine Forest. 

The Raiders did not play Jack Britt or Scotland in the regular season due to COVID-19 protocols, but if the Raiders and Scots, or Raiders and Buccaneers, win their first and second round games, the two SAC teams would meet in the 4A East finals.

A potential rematch between No. 1 Cardinal Gibbons and No. 4 Richmond could happen in the second round, as the two teams played a non-conference contest in 2019, a 45-28 Raider win. They were also supposed to play last fall prior to the modified high school sports calendar being released.

“Being in the 4A East gives us a chance to play teams that we have some familiarity with like Cardinal Gibbons, Pine Forest, Jack Britt and Scotland,” Till said. “Middle Creek is traditionally a really good team.

“The big thing is we have a lot more to learn, and there are some unknowns about Middle Creek,” he closed. “The playoffs are four rounds, they’re quick, but we’re excited to be playing.”

No. 4 Richmond will host No. 5 Middle Creek on Friday at Raider Stadium. Ticket sale information will be released later this week.

Last modified on Saturday, 10 April 2021 20:31
Kyle Pillar

Nine-time N.C. Press Association award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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