Second chances are often hard to come by in life, but for several North Carolina football teams, they will get just that in the second round of the playoffs this weekend.
Butler vs. Independence
Never mind that Butler has won the last four meetings with rival Independence, or even that he Bulldogs downed the Patriots, 36-26, just two weeks ago. Whenever these two teams meet in the playoffs, it's big — so big, that's it's been moved to the bigger stadium at Providence as was the case when they meet in 2009.
Mind you, the last time Butler lost in the playoffs, it was to Independence, a juggernaut that once won 109 games, has seven state titles to its name and is returning to prominence after last year's losing campaign.
Also be mindful that Butler is on a mission to reach its third straight title game in hopes of avenging their earlier loss to Mallard Creek and win its third consecutive 4AA crown. Lots of storylines and lots of potential for fireworks in this contest.
My pick: Butler 35, Independence 27
Wake Forest-Rolesville at Leesville Road
Two weeks ago, Leesville Road stopped the Cougars from having at least a share of the Cap 8 title for the first time in six years. But the night wasn't full of great memories for the Pride, as quarterback Austin Berrios tore his ACL. Still, the offense didn't miss a beat last week, scoring nine times and racking up 561 rushing yards in a win against Broughton. Wake Forest-Rolesville figures to make several defensive adjustments to slow the Pride's explosive offense, but the question is will it be enough?
My pick: Leesville Road 38, Wake Forest-Rolesville 35
Fuquay-Varina at Middle Creek
You remember the first time these two met this year, as Middle Creek overcame a 13-point deficit to win an overtime thriller. Since then, Fuquay-Varina has been flawless, winning eight straight games behind a solid running attack led by Carlton Bridges (195 yards, two scores last week). The Bengals' defensive effort could prove key, though, as QB David Salmon tore through the secondary for four scores in their last meeting.
My pick: Fuquay-Varina 31, Middle Creek 21
Erwin at Asheville
The door to the 3AA championship opened a bit wider for these two teams when Weddington upset South Point in the first round last weekend. And best believe that both Erwin and Asheville will do everything in their power to avoid being the next team to go home. During Asheville's undefeated regular season, Erwin gave the Cougars their toughest test before falling 21-20. Erwin will have to prove more stout against Asheville's powerful rushing attack behind Tysean Holloway and Deveron Roberts if it wants to pull off the next big upset.
My pick: Asheville 28, Erwin 24
Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.