All On the Line This Friday for Lee County & Southern Lee
Lee County will head to Southern Lee for the final regular season game with a lot on the line for both schools. Not only will the local bragging rights and the Brick trophy be on the line as always, but an upper hand on getting into the playoffs is at stake, a factor that hasn’t been a part of this rivalry for some time. WFJA & WWGP are preparing for this Friday’s game, and below is information that every local high school football fan should review as well.
Saying this is for the #2 spot amongst the 3A teams isn’t quite the case, as the Sandhills 3A/4A Conference only gets one guaranteed spot – and that has been clinched by Scotland County. What is at stake is getting into 2nd place among the 3A schools AND hope rankings are high enough to qualify as a wildcard. Playoff rules state that wildcard teams are selected based on rankings, but a 3rd place team with a higher ranking can NOT get in ahead of the 2nd place team with a lower ranking. Both Lee County and SLee should be inside the top 32 teams ranking-wise in the east with a win this Friday night.
A WIN by Southern Lee will get the Cavaliers to 3-3 in conference play and should put SLee in a nice position to make the playoffs. A LOSS by Southern Lee would have the Cavs at 2-4 and they would have to rely on rankings to hopefully slide in to one of the final spots.
A WIN by Lee County will get the Yellow Jackets to 2-4 in conference play and in a tie with Southern Lee. Lee County would get the nod for the 1st wildcard slot based on head-to-head. A loss by Lee County would slide the Yellow Jackets all the way to the bottom spot among the 3A schools behind Union Pines and the Jacket season would be done. Union Pines could also get to a 2-4 record and throw a kink in everything – but the Vikings would have to beat unbeaten Pinecrest this Friday night – an unlikely result after seeing the Patriots this season.
WFJA & WWGP Radio Staff Observations
Lee County – The Yellow Jackets stand at 1-4 in the conference and 4-5 overall entering the SLee game. Lee County is ranked 54 of 108 3A schools in NC. WFJA Sports Commentator Keith Womack had the following to say about Lee County ahead of this Friday’s game, “The Yellow Jackets have shown they can be really good defensively and can score as well, but consistency hasn’t been what we’ve seen in past years. This has been one of the most penalized teams since the arrival of Head Coach Steve Burdeau, as his teams have always played with discipline, and it seems like we had a stretch where we had 2-3 good drives every game stopped with penalties. Defensively, they have been opportunistic at times and there’s good speed getting to the ball. Offensively, missing BJ (Brown) has certainly hurt, but it’s made others step up. I think if Lee County can eliminate mistakes, they certainly can win this Friday. But SLee is much improved and I feel the team that stays away from mistakes will be the winner.”
Southern Lee – Southern Lee stands at 2-3 in conference play and 5-4 overall. Southern Lee is ranked 63rd among the 108 3A schools in NC. WWGP Sports Commentator Austin Thomas has been amazed at the turnaround under 1st year Coach Fred Blanks. “Southern Lee only scored 163 points in 10 games last season and surpassed that 3-4 games ago. The running game is averaging nearly 200 yards per game with seven different Cavaliers scoring rushing TDs. The O-Line returned 4 starters from last season and the ground game has carried the Cavaliers this season. Defensively Southern Lee has made great improvements. The Cavalier defense is built on speed and flying to ball has been tremendously improved. The defense has forced at least one turnover every game and forced 5 against UPines last Friday.”
Lee County leads the series 12-5. Lee County has a 6-game win streak in the rivalry as SLee picked up their last win in 2016 under former Coach Don Simon. Yellow Jacket Coach Steve Burdeau is 5-0 in the rivalry while this will be the first rivalry game for Southern Lee Coach Fred Blanks.
For Lee County to Win
Can the Jackets win at Cavalier Stadium this Friday? Yes, they can. But the Yellow Jackets will have to cut down the penalties and improve the special teams play that has hurt the Jackets since conference play began. Lee County certainly has the weapons offensively to get it done and the Jacket defense has shown grit all season. Lee County had to re-configure after leading rusher BJ Brown was lost for the season, but Lee County can still put points on the board. Look for Terrance McKendall to be the Jackets leader on the ground, but the passing game – and QB Jack Martin getting the ball to Jayden Hill & Raymond Knotts – will be key for Lee County. Lee County will also need to stop the Cavalier running game and that may be the biggest key for Lee County to come out on top.
For Southern Lee to Win
Can Southern Lee beat Lee County this Friday? Yes, they can. If the Cavaliers can run the ball on Friday night, it could be a long night for Lee County. Look for Jo Jo Douglas and Johnny Jones to get plenty of carries against the Jackets this Friday. The Cavaliers win when they are able to run it, and struggle when they don’t. This may be the quickest Cavalier defense since Don Simon’s last team in 2016 and could make running tough for the Yellow Jackets. Southern Lee got a huge road win last Friday and will come in riding high and looking for the playoffs for the 1st time in years. After only one win in the previous two seasons, this season has been quite a turnaround for the Cavaliers and 1st year Coach Fred Blanks, and they look to finish at 6-4 and head to the playoffs.
Our call is….it’s too close to call. Oddsmakers would call this a “pick em”…at least that would be the opening line for the game. The teams come in about as even record-wise and statistically as two teams could be. We’ve seen enough to know that if each team plays their best…it’s still too close to call. What we can tell you is this – neither team can afford mistakes. We would almost bet the team with fewer penalties, turnovers, and special teams mistakes will win this Friday night. We give the edge in running to the Cavaliers and passing to the Yellow Jackets. The Cavaliers gave up a few more points in conference play (188-159) than Lee County and scored a few less (86-107) as well. But it may end up being more about keeping emotions in check and handling the pressure of a do-or-die game.
There’s no excuse for not coming to the game. High Friday is 82 degrees and currently showing 68 degrees at kickoff and 62 degrees by game’s end with NO CHANCE of RAIN. We’ll see you at the game!!!!
Both Lee County & Southern Lee will still air separate broadcasts for this Friday’s game. The Lee County broadcast will air as normal on WFJA Sports 105.5 FM and the Cavalier broadcast can be heard on 1050 AM or 95.1 FM and both signals can be found on the WFJA website at: ww.wfjawwgpradio.com.