Football season is right around the corner in North Carolina. What a weird season it will be with games starting at the end of February.
The FYN Sports team has sat down and compiled our North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1A Football Rankings.
We took into account how the teams finished last year, the players that they had returning, and the strength of schedule that they will be playing. It is a shortened 7 game schedule for all North Carolina teams, so that was also taken into account.
East Surry throttled Tarboro in the Big 1A State Championship 56-28 last year. They lost a few seniors to college and one impact player who early enrolled since the season was moved, but they also return two division 1 guys and a handful of D2-D3 talent. We’ve got them going into the season ranked at Number 1 for a reason.
Tarboro advanced to the Big 1A State Championship last year and lost to the aforementioned East Surry Cardinals. That was the only blemish on their schedule last year, and the first loss the Vikings had suffered since 2016! In 2017 and 2018 they won back-to-back State Championships. I have heard rumors of Tarboro being in Little 1A or Big 1A. Same with a few other teams on this list. I would expect Tarboro to compete in either classification.
The kings of the Smoky Mountain Conference last year, overcoming “big brother’ Murphy twice. They beat Northampton 45-14 in the Little 1A State Championship. They are losing their main offensive weapon and star running back to graduation, but the Black Knights will look to reload as always. Coach Dee Walsh has the Knights competing for a title every year it seems. The Black Knights will look to repeat as State Champions by first winning the SMC again this year, a task some say is harder than winning the State title.
10-3 overall record last year, with 2 of those losses coming against defending Little 1A State Champions and Conference rival, Robbinsville. In the third round of the State Playoffs last year, they fell to Robbinsville 24-13 after previously losing to the Black Knights 17-14 at home in the regular season. Coach David Gentry definitely cannot be happy losing to that team across the County Line twice, and seeing them hoist the State Title means the Bulldogs will be out for blood this year. Circle Murphy @ Robbinsville on your calendar!
John A. Holmes (Edenton)
The John A. Holmes Aces were rolling last year until they ran into Tarboro in the regional championship in Big 1A. 12-1 with a defense that allowed 7 or fewer points in games last year, I think that they will pose a threat to make a run at the Title, especially if Tarboro moves down and East Surry has lost more talent than it seems.
Mountain Island Charter
Southern Piedmont Conference Champs last year. Lost to East Surry in the Elite 8 in Big 1A. A high powered offense that scored 50 or more in 6 games last and has quite a few Juniors returning on the offensive side of the ball. The Raptors are building something and have finally made it over the hump with last years’ 11-3 season.
Mitchell is the first team on this list where playing in February (and the weather that Febrary brings) could really hurt them. The Mountaineers are no stranger to bad weather in the winter months, and with the way this COVID season will work, they can’t afford any games lost due to inclement weather. Last year, they lost to East Surry in the Big 1A Regional Championship game. Look for them to have another good year, and perhaps find themselves back down in Little 1A.
Last year, the Maroon Devils lost to Mitchell in the 2nd round of the Big 1A State Championships. In the regular season, they unfortunately faced Murphy and Robbinsville in back-to-back weeks on their schedule, where they fell to Murphy 15-14 and then were gassed by Robbinsville 43-6. It may be weird to see a team that finished third in their Conference ranked in the Top 10 in the State, but you have to remember what conference they play in, and the fact that these guys just seem to be able to compete year-in and year-out regardless. The Veer is a hard thing to beat in High School football.
A cinderella story in last years Little 1A State Playoffs, they upset both Rosewood and North Edgecomb to advance to the State Championship before eventually falling to Robbinsville. 11-2 in 2017, then again in 2018 and the number 1 seed entering the playoffs where they lost to Rosewood in the third round. Northampton has produced a pretty good run of football teams here recently and I expect this year to be no different.
The Eagles lost to Northampton 26-20 in the 3rd round of Little 1a playoffs in 2019. They went 11-2 and were the Carolina Conference Champions. In their lone regular season loss, they found themselves in a pretty tight one with 3A/4A C.B. Aycock. With a lot of returners and a good coaching staff, Rosewood is set to make waves yet again.