Sandhills 3A/4A Grades Thru Non-Conference Games – And What’s Ahead
Note: The following is the opinion of the WFJA & WWGP Sports Crews as we look at the Sandhills 3A/4A Conference through the non-conference portion of the schedule. Conference games start this week and teams will begin the fight to make the playoffs. While the non-conference games to this point have NO bearing on who gets in the post-season, these games do affect team ratings and rankings – and with it the eventual seed for teams that advance to post-season. All rankings shown below are the current (9/12/22) MaxPreps Rankings for the 422 High School teams in North Carolina for ALL Classifications.
Sandhills 3A/4A Non-Conference Record………14-14
State Ranking of Teams Beaten…………82, 132, 157, 160, 192, 212 (twice), 230, 232 (Va), 308, 343, 348, 363, 378
State Ranking of Teams Lost To………..10, 14, 24, 25, 34, 54, 55, 59, 61 (SC), 125 (twice), 139, 259, 295
Sandhills 3A/4A Conference To Date
Non-Conference play was less than impressive by the conference as a whole – finishing with a .500 record in non-conference play and beating only one of the 10 top 100 teams played by conference teams. At this time, Pinecrest has the highest ranking of Sandhills 3A/4A teams with a #62 ranking – with #79 Lee County the only other team in the top 100 at this time. Our best evaluation is to say kudos to the conference teams for playing an aggressive schedule and taking on a sufficient number of the state’s top teams. But we are also hoping the lack of success against the top teams isn’t what we will see come playoff time.
Conference Grade for Non-Conference Games – C
4A Teams – Pinecrest, Hoke Co, and Richmond Co. – One guaranteed playoff spot with a 2nd possible.
3A Teams – Lee County, Southern Lee, Scotland & Union Pines – One guaranteed playoff spot with a 2nd likely.
Conference play is all that’s left from here out with 4A Pinecrest, 3A Lee County, 3A Scotland, and 4A Richmond considered the favorites to grab the available playoff spots from the conference. In the games involving those 4 teams Pinecrest gets Richmond and Scotland at home and travels to Lee. Lee County will play Pinecrest & Richmond at home and travel to Scotland. Scotland is at Pinecrest & Richmond and will host Lee. Richmond is away at Pinecrest and Lee and will host Scotland. Advantage here to Pinecrest and Lee.
#62 Pinecrest – (2-2)
Beat #192 Anson Co & #82 Middle Creek, Lost to #24 Rolesville & #14 Grimsley
Pinecrest has lost to two really good teams and right now is the highest rated team in the league, according to MaxPreps. The Patriots have good balance offensively and have rolled up just over 1500 yards of offense thus far. Pinecrest will get Richmond and Scotland at home this year and we like the Patriots chances to get into the 4A playoffs. Despite the 2 losses to top 20 teams, the Patriots have the “best” win by conference teams thus far – beating #82 Middle Creek. Pinecrest has given up 114 points in 4 games and that will need to improve for Pinecrest to compete for the conference title. We project the Patriots will make the 4A playoffs.
Non-Conference Grade – (B+)
#79 Lee County – (4-0)
Beat #308 Northwood, #132 Overhills, #160 SGranville, #232 Mecklenburg (Va)
Lee County’s results thus far are what was expected, averaging 39 ppg and giving up 15. Run defense has been strong and BJ Brown is hovering around 200 yards per game on the ground. The Lee offensive line has been as good as advertised and the running numbers show it. Lee’s road game at Scotland looms as the game that could decide the #1 3A seed, and the Jackets will get Richmond and Pinecrest at home. We like what we’ve seen so far from the Jackets in filling holes left by graduation and look for Lee Co to battle Scotland, UPines, and SLee for the 3A playoff spots. Lee County is still adjusting personnel and start conference play at Union Pines and then Hoke before a bye week. We expect the Jackets to be 6-0 when they start the Pinecrest, Richmond, Scotland stretch in October. We like Lee’s chances at the post-season.
Non-Conference Grade – (A-)
#110 Scotland County (2-2)
Beat #230 NDurham & #157 Jack Britt, Lost to #59 Hoggard & #61 Marlboro (SC)
We had projected a 3-1 start for the Scots, but turnovers proved to be an issue in the two losses. Offensive production seems behind last season except for the season opener against NDurham. Scotland will get Lee County at home, but travels to Pinecrest and Richmond this season. The Scots have been good defensively and taking better care of the ball on offense will be important if Scotland is to contend. Look for Scotland to make the postseason.
Non-Conference Grade – (B)
#131 Richmond County (1-3)
Beat #212 South View, Lost to #25 Mt. Tabor, #34 Butler, #10 Cardinal Gibbons
Richmond has struggled to score this season (14 pts in 1st 3 games) and certainly the schedule has been a factor. We projected a tough start for Richmond just because of the schedule but weren’t expecting the low offensive production. An 0-3 start has certainly shaken the Raiders but there is still enough talent there to be a factor in the conference. While their schedule has been killer, we expected more offensive production from the Raiders. We think the Raiders still have a shot to be one of two 4A teams to play in the post-season, despite the tough start.
Non-Conference Grade – (D+)
#162 Hoke County – (2-2)
Beat #363 Lumberton & #212 South View, Lost to #125 Gray’s Creek & #54 71st
Hoke’s ability to score has improved since last season, averaging over 30 ppg with a season high of 50. Senior RB Ethan Wallace is averaging just under 200 ypg on the ground and has 10 rushing TD’s for the Bucks. The defense must get better for Hoke to compete with Pinecrest and Richmond for the 4A playoff spots.
Non-Conference Grade – (C+)
#267 Union Pines (2-2)
Beat #348 Montgomery Central & #378 WHarnett, Lost to #125 Gray’s Creek & #139 St. Pauls
The Vikings have also struggled to put up decent offensive numbers except the win against WHarnett. Rushing & passing numbers are behind a year ago and the Vikings will need to improve that to compete in the conference. Junior Ethan Biggs is the Vikings best offensive option and getting a few more touches for the speedy back/receiver could help. Making the playoffs will be a challenge for the Vikings who get Richmond, Hoke, and Lee County at home.
Non-Conference Grade (C)
#321 Southern Lee (1-3)
Beat #343 Fairmont, Lost to #55 Westover, #295 Green Hope, & #259 SJohnston
Believe it or not, the Cavs are only a couple of plays from being 3-1 on the season and have shown signs of some good things defensively. SLee has struggled to score (36 points in 1st 3 games) but saw some good things offensively in game 4. SLee put up 255 yards on the ground against Fairmont and will need more of that to compete in conference play. Improving things offensively and keeping the defense off the field will be key for the Cavs, and the tough conference schedule will be a challenge for SLee. Southern gets Richmond, Pinecrest, and UPines at home.
Non-Conference Grade (C)
Conference play will begin this week as Lee County will travel to Union Pines, Southern Lee will host Richmond Co., Hoke travels to Scotland Co and Pinecrest is idle. Just a reminder that you can listen to either game this Friday night – Lee County vs. Union Pines on 105.5 FM WFJA with Southern Lee hosting Richmond Co on WWGP 95.1 & 1050 AM. Games are also available on your phone or computer by going to www.wfjawwgpradio.com and hit Listen Live.