If Southern Nash beats South Johnston in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-AA East Regional football championship, the No. 11-seeded Firebirds would become just the fourth team seeded 10th or higher to reach a regional final in the eight seasons the NCHSAA has been seeding playoff brackets.
Or the Firebirds could be the fifth team to do it.
Anson County, which visits Belmont South Point for the 3-AA West crown Friday, is a No. 12 seed. This is the first time in NCHSAA playoff seeding history that two seeds higher than 10 could meet for the state championship.
There have been 13 teams seeded 10th or higher to make it to a regional final. Thanks to the diligent work of NCHSAA Associate Executive Director Rick Strunk, I am able to tell you those lucky 13 are:
• 2001, 1-AA No. 10 Gates County (lost to No. 1 Wallace-Rose Hill 42-24 )
• 2003, 3-A No. 11 Northeast Guilford (beat No. West Craven 35-27)
• 2003, 3-AA No. 10 High Point Central (lost to No. 4 Shelby Crest 14-6)
• 2005, 4-AA No. 12 Charlotte Myers Park (lost to No. 2 Charlotte Independence 48-14)
• 2006, 1-AA No. 10 Mount Airy (lost to No. 1 Thomasville 35-7)
• 2006, 2-A No. 10 Clinton (lost to No. 1 Jacksonville Northside 25-0)
• 2006, 3-AA No. 14 Northwest Cabarrus (lost to No. 1 Charlotte Catholic)
• 2006, 4-AA No. 11 Durham Riverside (beat No. 1 Garner 15-13)
• 2007, 2-A No. 10 East Lincoln (lost to No. 5 Lincolnton 21-13)
• 2007, 4-AA No. 10 Charlotte Independence (beat No. 1 West Charlotte)
• 2008, 4-A No. 11 South Mecklenburg (lost to No. 8 Fayetteville Seventy-First 27-6)
• 2009, 3-AA No. 11 Southern Nash (plays No. 1 South Johnston)
• 2009, 3-AA No. 12 Anson County (plays No. 7 Belmont South Point)
So it was 3-A Northeast Guilford in 2003, 4-AA Riverside in 2006 and 4-AA Independence in 2007 to defy the odds and get to a state championship game but, alas, none of them brought home a trophy.
The Firebirds (11-3) have to face No. 1 South Johnston (13-1) which is a natural progession since they've defeated No. 6 Triton (8-4), No. 3 Hunt (8-4) and No. 2 Hope Mills Gray's Creek (12-2). Anson County (10-4) knocked off No. 5 Waxhaw Marvin Ridge (9-2), No. 13 Shelby Crest (7-5) and No. 1 Northern Guilford (12-2) to get to No. 7 South Point (12-2).
It's entirely possible the 3-AA bracket is where NCHSAA underdog history is made this fall and it's all up to Southern Nash and Anson County to make it.