Believe it or not, it's been 11 weeks since Mallard Creek and Butler faced off in a makeshift championship game for the season opener. Now it's playoff time and plenty of teams have emerged with the Mavericks and Bulldogs as prime contenders the state crown.
Leesville Road and Havelock entered the final regular season rankings with dominant performances to cap their undefeated regular seasons. Leesville Road easily downed previously ranked Wake-Forest Rolesville to win the Cap 8 title, but it lost QB Austin Berrios to a knee injury on the game's opening kickoff, potentially making the road to a state title a bit tougher. Havelock, which beat Burns earlier this year for its signature win, appears to be the favorite in 3A after outscoring opponent by an average of 48.6 to 14.3.
The rankings will return after the postseason for one final evaluation of the season, but stay tuned to ESPNHS North Carolina for playoff updates.
Click here for a full playoff pairing list from the Charlotte Observer.
Nationally, Mallard Creek moved up to No. 20 while Butler stood pat at No. 32 in the POWERADE FAB 50.
Here are the final regular season rankings (last week's rankings are in parentheses):
1. Mallard Creek (Charlotte) 10-0 (1)
Jela Duncan scored five touchdowns as the Mavericks beat Hough, 51-14, and won their third straight I-MECK title. The No. 2 seeded Mavericks will begin the 4AA playoffs against South Mecklenburg.
2. Butler (Matthews) 9-1 (2)
The Bulldogs beat Independence, 38-26, to earn the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. They will host Hoke County this week in the 4AA playoffs.
3. Scotland 10-0 (3)
The Fighting Scots continued their dominance, beating previously ranked Richmond, 42-7. Top-seeded 4A squad will take on Harnett Central in first round of playoffs.