RAEFORD — When the North Carolina High School Athletic Association releases the 4A football brackets Saturday, the Southeastern Conference will only have three schools in the playoffs.
This will be the first time since the SEC reformed in 2009 the league has sent less than four teams to the postseason.
Scotland has clinched at least a share of the conference title and will be seeded amongst the other league winners in the 4A classification. Pinecrest will need to beat Hoke and have Richmond upend Scotland to finish in a tie for the crown. If this were to occur, then the Patriots would also be seeded with conference champions in 4AA by virtue of their win over the Raiders.
Richmond would be placed with conference runners-up if it would were to finish in a three-way tie atop the SEC. A Raider win and a loss by the Patriots would give Richmond a split of the title with Scotland and be seeded with conference champions. A loss would force the Raiders to be placed with the other third-place finishers.
Purnell Swett and Lumberton will close out their seasons in the annual Backyard Brawl.
Pinecrest at Hoke
Coaches: Chris Metzger, Pinecrest. Milton Butts, Hoke.
Records: Pinecrest 3-1, 9-1. Hoke 1-3, 2-8.
Last Game: Pinecrest upset Richmond 21-7 for its first home win in the series. Purnell Swett outlasted Hoke 21-17 to end the Bucks' slim playoff hopes.
Tidbits: Pinecrest will be looking to snap an unusual two-game losing streak to Hoke. Last season, the Bucks downed the Patriots in the regular season finale at John Williams Stadium before turning around and winning at home in the first round of the playoffs. Hoke watched its postseason hopes washed away when Pinecrest upset Richmond last week, then fell to Purnell Swett the next day.
Lumberton at Purnell Swett
Coaches: Ron Cook (interim), Lumberton. Mark Heil, Purnell Swett.
Records: Lumberton 0-4, 0-10. Purnell Swett 1-3, 3-7.
Last Game: Scotland blanked Lumberton 42-0. Purnell Swett downed Hoke 21-17 for its first victory against a 4A team since 2011.
Tidbits: Neither team will be battling for a postseason berth, so it will just be for bragging rights in this year's version of the “Backyard Brawl.” Lumberton will try to avoid a winless season against its in-county arch rival. It will try to do it on the road at “Big” Mo Stadium, a place it hasn't won since 2002. Purnell Swett will look to build off its surprising win last week against Hoke as it heads into the off-season.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.