Friday night begins a brand new day for 256 schools across the state.
It’s a chance for these football teams to forget the hard-luck losses, the blowouts, the upsets and the missed opportunities over the previous 11 weeks.
The players and coaches have a blank page in front of them to write the next chapter on their season-long journey. Some will script a story of a David knocking off Goliath, while others will write about a team’s continued march towards its destiny.
When everything is said and done on Dec. 1, only eight schools will end its year on a high note — winning a state championship.
This means 248 teams will walk off the gridiron in the next five weeks having its title aspirations taken away. There will be faint chants of get them next year and discussions of what could have been.
Richmond Senior has been given a golden opportunity to be one of the elite eight and grab its eighth state championship. For the first time since 2001, the Raiders will head east. And despite finishing second to Scotland in the Southeastern Conference, earned the No. 1 seed in the 4AA Mideast pod.
Unlike the previous two years when it was shipped west and popped into the Midwest, or the “pod of death,” Richmond has a fighting chance to at worse make it to the East Region finals.
The Mideast pod is the easiest of the four this season because it lacks a conference champion. The East pod features three — Garner, Leesville Road and Middle Creek. The Midwest is anchored by Butler, East Forsyth and Page, while Mallard Creek is the lone champion in the West pod.
The eight teams in the Mideast had an average finish of 3.37 in its conference followed by the West at 2.75 and the East at 2.65.
Once again the Midwest is the most difficult pod in the 4AA classification, with the consensus top team in state, Butler, fifth-ranked East Forsyth, as well as the teams compiling an average finish of 2.25.
If the seedings hold true, the Raiders won’t face a team which placed higher than third in its conference until the third round and a possible matchup with Jack Britt, which was the runner-up in the Mid-South to E.E. Smith.
Richmond has a chance to write about a happy ending after last season’s surprising ouster in the opening round and two straight losses to archrival Scotland.
The question is if the Raiders will need one sheet or a ream of paper. The next five weeks will let us know.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.