Even though his accuracy rate dipped a bit last week, Drew Pasteur of The Fantastic 50 predicts good things for at least one area team in the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association football playoffs.
Pasteur projects SouthWest Edgecombe as a two-point winner over two-time defending state champion Reidsville in Friday's 2-AA East semifinals mega-clash in Pinetops but he thinks Southern Nash falls by seven at Hope Mills Gray's Creek in the 3-AA East semis.
Pasteur thinks the 2-AA East championship will be an all-Eastern Plains Conference affair with Kinston beating Pittsboro Northwood by five. He also has Tarboro advancing to the 2-A East final for the second straight year with a predicted 18-point win over Whiteville but Edgecombe County's third team, North Edgecombe, is a 10-point underdog at Jones Senior.
Pasteur says he went 51-15 (77.3 percent) picking winners last week, a drop from an all-time high of 89.4 percent (118-14) in the first round of the playoffs the previous week.
In the four high school games on this week's Football Forecast, I've only got one difference with Pasteur. I like Kinston upsetting Pittsboro Northwood in the 2-AA bracket, although it would be an upset only from the perspective of seeding, and I think Fayetteville Douglas Byrd will end South Johnston's season.
I also think Southern Nash won't get past Gray's Creek, although like last week, I thought long and hard about taking the Firebirds who are good enough to win again. I just have a hard time taking a visiting team with a penchant for fumbling.
Where Pasteur's computer and I differ are in the game many feel is the de facto 2-AA state title game. I've thought all season that SouthWest Edgecombe has had a state championship-caliber team but we know Reidsville is just that, having won the last two 2-AA crowns as well as 45 straight games. The Cougars can win this one but they'll need to play errorless football, obviously, and just as importantly get off to a good start. However, Reidsville is explosive offensively and even if SWE is winning in the final minute, if the Rams have the ball, they can pull it out. So I have to go with Reidsville by less than a touchdown.
My picks are more in line with The Massey Ratings, which project Reidsville as a 34-24 winner, Southern Nash a 26-17 loser, Byrd a 27-19 winner and Kinston over Northwood by a 23-16 final.