Patriots Draw Defending Champ Hoggard in Playoffs
Pinecrest's fall tour of some of the toughest football venues in the state continues with a stop in Wilmington on Friday night.
When the 4 AA playoff brackets were announced Saturday evening, the Patriots (7-4) had drawn fourth-ranked Hoggard (9-1) as their first-round opponent. The Vikings won the 4 A state title last season and enjoy a 22-game winning streak on their home field.
The Patriots, a 15th seed in the East bracket, will be making their third playoff appearance in the 39-year history of the school and the first since 1996.
Coach Chris Metzger emerged from the field house during the first half of Pinecrest's fourth round soccer match against New Hanover Saturday evening to talk about the team's latest challenge.
Arrangements had already been made to meet a representative of Hoggard that night at a halfway point to exchange films of two games. Preparations would begin in earnest Sunday afternoon.
"Everybody I've talked to says they're extremely fundamentally sound," Metzger said of the second-seeded Vikings. "But we're not just happy to be in it. We're going out to compete."
Exactly one month ago, the Patriots traveled to Richmond Senior and handed the Raiders only their third league loss since the Mid-Southeastern Conference was established in 2001.
Two weeks later, they took a 7-1 mark to Fayetteville where third-ranked Jack Britt brought them back to earth to the tune of 54-0. Friday night's 27-7 loss at home to Seventy-First, a team ranked eighth in the state two weeks ago, was the Patriots' third in a row, dashing hopes of a playoff game at home.
A welcome sight when the team assembled for a short workout Saturday morning was the presence of Daniel Keith. The offensive tackle was transported to the hospital for precautionary reasons after suffering a "stinger" during the game against Seventy-First.
Metzger said that the only thing different about this week from a normal game week would be that the team would leave school at noon on Friday for the 130-mile trip to Wilmington.
"We're going to have a great week of practice and it started today," the coach said. "The kids did a real nice job and we just need to keep it going."
A year ago, Hoggard completed a 15-0 season by defeating Mount Tabor 28-0 for the 4/A state title. Its winning streak ended with a 27-20 loss to Harnett Central in this season's second game.
The champions of the Mideastern Conference have two 1,000-yard rushers in Rashaad McDonald and quarterback Brad Busby.
"They're not going to make mistakes, so from that standpoint it's going to be great for our kids to play a team of that caliber," Metzger said.
In the first round of the 1996 playoffs, Pinecrest was defeated 44-7 on the road by Goldsboro in spite of a 165-yard performance by running back Larry Crawford.
In the Patriots' only other playoff appearance, they defeated E.E. Smith 14-6 on Friday the 13th in 1987. Myron Ingram and Terry Evans scored the Patriot touchdowns.
The school's only eight-win season ended with a 28-8 second round loss to Garner.
New Bern defeated Charlotte Independence 28-17 for the 2007 4/AA state title.
That ended a streak of seven titles in a row by Independence.
Six of the eight teams in the Mid-Southeastern Conference qualified for the playoffs this year.
Also in the 4/AA East, Jack Britt (1) hosts Sanderson (16). In the 4/AA West, Richmond Senior (6) entertains Northwest Guilford (10).
Douglas Byrd (8) has a home game against New Bern (9) in the 4/A East. And Seventy-First (8) entertains Purnell Swett (9), and Westover (13) is at Chapel Hill (4) in the 4/A West.m
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