Nothing like October – autumn truly arrives, Halloween, the return of everyone’s favorite Spice Girl, Pumpkin.
And the start of high school and middle school playoffs.
We’re approaching the end of the fall sports regular season at the high school level, with area middle schools already finished with their seasons and gearing up for the start of postseason play.
Here are sport-by-sport notes relating to playoff scenarios for area teams.
Polk County Middle
Polk Middle’s 46-12 victory on Thursday at Hendersonville Middle earned the Wolverines a postseason berth.
Polk will travel Wednesday to Canton Middle to battle the Bears in the Blue Ridge Conference’s ninth-place game.
Kickoff for that encounter is set for 5 p.m.
The Wolverines earned a share of the BRC East Division title, then won a coin flip for the division’s top seed. That means Polk will open tournament play on Monday against Smoky Mountain, the fourth seed from the West.
With a win Monday, the Wolverines would then host either Canton Middle or Brevard Middle in the tourney semifinals on Wednesday. A potential clash with Canton could be an interesting one – the Bears defeated Rugby Middle earlier this season and only lost to Macon Middle.
If Polk reaches the championship match, then the Wolverines would either travel to Macon or host that match should Macon not be the opponent.
Polk Middle won the East Division championship and earned a first-round bye as the BRC expanded the soccer playoffs this season to 10 teams.
The Wolverines will begin play on Wednesday against either Hendersonville Middle or Canton Middle. With a win in that match, Polk would move into the tournament semifinals and would host either Smoky Mountain or Brevard.
Just as with volleyball, Polk Middle would either travel to Macon Middle or serve as host for the tournament final should Macon not reach the title match.
An administrator with the North Carolina High School Athletic Association confirmed last week how Polk County teams and athletes can qualify for postseason play.
Here are those notes:
Bracketed Team Sports (other than wrestling)
- Must finish in top two of conference and/or have an overall winning record percentage of .500 or better to secure an automatic bid into the playoffs
- If not in top two or do not finish with a .500 or better record, can qualify as a wildcard entry based on RPI rating
Wrestling – Dual Team
- Must finish in first place overall to receive an automatic berth
- If the team finished outside of the parameter above, they can be considered for a wildcard berth
- Automatic berth for one singles player and doubles team
Other Individual Sports
- Athletes must qualify by approved standards in each sport
Given those parameters, here is a sport-by-sport look:
Polk County concluded its regular season last week with a 9-2 overall record and second place in the Mountain Foothills 7 Conference.
That means the Wolverines have clinched a berth in the 1A dual team state playoffs. At present, Polk County is fifth in the 1A West RPI ratings, which means the Wolverines would receive a first-round home playoff game. It’s possible that Polk could be seeded as high as fourth in the 16-team West bracket (only 32 teams qualify for the 1A dual team playoffs).
The 1A girls tennis dual team playoffs begin Wednesday, Oct. 18.
Polk County currently owns a 4-3 record with three games remaining. With a win in one of those three encounters, the Wolverines will assure themselves of a .500 record, an automatic playoff berth and a seeding with other conference champions.
That should also bring the first home playoff game for Polk County since 2017. There’s even a chance that the Wolverines could earn a top-eight seed, which would mean a second home playoff date with a first-round win. Every win between now and season’s end can only improve Polk’s shot at a top-eight seed by boosting the Wolverines’ RPI.
Should the Wolverines lose their final three games, there’s still a decent chance that Polk could earn a wildcard berth. But that would likely come with a low seed and a difficult first-round road trip.
The 1A football playoffs begin Friday, Nov. 3.
Polk County heads into the final week of regular-season play with a 19-1 record, long ago assured of finishing above .500. The Wolverines host East Rutherford on Tuesday and then have a showdown with Brevard on Thursday that will likely decide the MF7 regular-season champion.
Polk County’s current RPI of .68262 is comfortably ahead of second-place Cornerstone Charter (20-0, .64693). A loss likely won’t drop Polk into second place, but two losses could make things interesting.
If the Wolverines retain the top spot in the 1A West RPI, that would give Polk County home-court advantage through the entire West bracket, a huge boost to Polk’s hopes for a state championship berth.
The 1A volleyball playoffs begin Saturday, Oct. 21.
Polk County still has six regular-season matches remaining, and a number of scenarios remain in play.
The Wolverines need at least three wins to secure a .500 overall record. Monday’s match at Hendersonville could potentially be huge in that quest – a win would put Polk County in great position. With a .500 or better record, the Wolverines will have at least one home match and might even reach a top-eight seed and set up two possible home games.
Polk currently sits 21st in the 1A West RPI, so a sub-.500 finish would still most likely mean a wildcard spot in the 32-team field. But the playoff opener would be on the road and likely at one of the higher seeds in the field.
The 1A boys soccer playoffs begin Monday, Oct. 30.
A scoreboard for the ages
A wild Friday night ended in the highest-scoring NCHSAA football game in history as Pender defeated Hobbton 106-83.
No, that is not a basketball score.
The score stood at 40-29 at the end of the first quarter as the two teams combined for nine touchdowns in the opening period. The back-and-forth contest headed in the fourth quarter with Pender leading 70-63, and Pender scored five touchdowns in the final 12 minutes to secure the win and top the 100-point mark.
Perhaps most impressively, Pender finished 11-of-14 on 2-point conversion attempts, with Hobbton going 4-for-8 on 2-point attempts and 3-for-4 in conventional tries. Pender scored 11 more points JUST on point-after attempts, one of the more unusual stats you will ever see.