‘High-Octane’ offenses meet in Canton tonightVikings invade the ‘Black Bears Den’ for a NCHSAA Class 2-AA West second round playoff game
CANTON — Pisgah Head Coach David Pressley knows exactly what his football team is playing tonight.
A scary, fast, talented and well-coached football team.
The Black Bears (6-6), which have won five of their last six games, will host South Iredell (10-2) in their Class 2-AA West second round game, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m., at Memorial Stadium.
To understand Coach Pressley, all that the Pisgah Nation has do is look at what happened in the Vikings’ first round game last week in Statesville when South Iredell senior LaChaston Smith put his name into the NCHSAA record books with an amazing performance in a 69-15 triumph over West Lincoln.
The University of Virginia-commit, who rushed 191 yards on just 13 carries, scored seven touchdowns on the ground, which tied him for second with 16 other players. Three players scored eight times and Albemarle’s T.A. McLendon notched seven twice in the 2001 season. Just for good measure, he also threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Scott Miller in the first half.
Smith gashed West Lincoln’s defense for two scores in the first quarter, four in the second and one more in the third.
Smith is one of the top linebackers in the state and he isn’t even the “main man” in the Vikings’ spread offense. That honor falls on the capable shoulders of senior quarterback Davin King, who did not play in the playoff opener after sustaining an injuring in the regular-season finale.
According to the Statesville Record & Landmark, King is expected to play against Pisgah.
Inside The Numbers
South Iredell’s offense comes in tonight’s second round game averaging 36.2 (434) points per game and the Vikings’ defense allows just 16 points a contest this season. Last week, the West Lincoln Rebels managed just 158 yards in total offense.
Offensively, Pisgah can score points — a lot of points. Through 12 games, the Josh Noland-McKinley Brown “high-octane” offense is averaging 49.1 points per contest.
In its last six games, the Black Bears have scored 40 or more points five times. But it has been their “no-octane” defense that has struggled immensely this season, allowing a very disappointing 31.3 points per game.
How They Got Here
South Iredell (10-2), which shared the Catawba Valley Athletic Conference championship with Newton-Conover and Maiden, was seeded seventh overall in 2-AA West playoffs and the No. 3 seed in West pod. Newton-Conover was seeded higher than South Iredell in its bracket because the Red Devils prevailed in the teams’ head-to-head meeting, 31-21.
The Vikings trounced West Lincoln in the first round game.
Pisgah, which finished tied for third with Smoky Mountain in the split 2-A/3-A WNC Athletic Conference with a 4-3 record, won the conference’s No. 1 seed because it was the top 2-A team. The Black Bears were seeded fourth overall seed in 2-AA West playoffs and the No. 2 seed in West pod.
Pisgah defeated Smoky Mountain, 49-16, in its first round game.
The Winner Plays ...
The South Iredell-Pisgah winner will advance to the third round and play either No. 10 Bandys (8-4) or No. 3 Newton-Conover (9-3). If Pisgah and Bandys win, the Black Bears will get to host the Trojans in the third round playoff game next Friday, Nov. 16, at Memorial Stadium.
Every high school football team in North Carolina that’s still alive hopes it will make it to the state championship. But history teaches us not to assume anything. In the NCHSAA high school football playoffs, the round that has provided the most stunning upsets has been traditionally the second round.
There are no doubts that South Iredell is the “real deal.” But playing a playoff football game in front of a packed Memorial Stadium is extremely difficult. Just ask powerhouse Shelby High School, which made no bones about the electric atmosphere that heavily favored the Black Bears in 2006. As then (Shelby) head coach Chris Norman explained after that fourth round game.
“This is the most difficult place to play and win a playoff football game,” said Norman in his postgame comments back in 2006. “Pisgah’s crowd is huge, loud and intimidating. Most teams never get to play in front of a crowd of 8,000-plus. But for Pisgah, they’re used to playing in front of large home crowds. It’s not easy to come away with a win when you bring your team into Canton. Your team has to be near perfect in order to even have a chance to win.”
South Iredell is the heavy favorite and should be. But don’t be surprised if the underdog Black Bears play with the superior Vikings into the fourth quarter. But this is the second round. The round for upsets. Get it? The underdog wins a shootout and moves on into the third round.
Pisgah 42, South Iredell 41