North Stanly wins season finale but falls short of playoff bid

The NCHSAA’s new playoff formula, along with COVID-19, costs the Comets a spot in the postseason

(SOURCE: Jesse Deal)

NEW LONDON — After North Stanly easily took care of Albemarle Friday night with a 42-0 home shutout for their eighth-consecutive victory over the Bulldogs, the Comets had built plenty of momentum. 

The Comets (5-4, 4-1 Yadkin Valley) had finished their season with a third-straight conference win and a second-place finish in the conference standings.  

Against the Bulldogs (2-7, 2-3 YVC), quarterback Luke Shaver and running back Karee Dykes led a Comets offense that scored 42 unanswered points in the first half.  

“It was exciting to see because we practiced that script this week and our offensive coordinator and boys really stuck with it,” North Stanly coach Scott Crisco said. “We’re peaking at the right time for the playoffs. We’re probably going to sneak in with a No. 30 or 31 seed.” 

Unfortunately for Crisco and the Comets, that was not the case as the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Saturday afternoon release of the football playoff brackets did not include North Stanly. 

The Comets were the only YVC team to not receive a playoff berth — even winless Union Academy (0-10, 0-5 YVC) found a spot in the 1A West bracket with the 31st seed. 

Throughout the years, the NCHSAA has used MaxPreps rankings, winning percentage and conference finishes as deciding factors for playoff seeding. For this season, the association used an RPI system composed of three categories: winning percentage (30%), opponents’ winning percentage (40%) and opponents’ opponents winning percentage (30%). 

One key factor in the Comets’ omission from the playoffs lies with the Walkertown Wolfpack (1-9, 1-5 Mid-State), a team that had to forfeit four games this year due to COVID-19 protocols. Because the Comets and Wolfpack both had the Mount Pleasant Tigers as a mutual opponent, the Comets and Tigers both saw their RPI rating drop significantly from the Wolfpack’s partial season. 

“Essentially, due to their forfeiture, their policy violation became our penalty,” the North Stanly Booster Club posted on Twitter Saturday. “Forfeitures should be zeroed out like they didn’t exist for opponents’ winning percentage and opponents’ opponents winning percentage — like the games cancelled because of COVID-19 except the team that has to forfeit is penalized.” 

While the Comets’ season has ended, the other three Stanly County football teams all have a chance to continue in the postseason with first-round road matchups on Friday. 

In the 1A West Region, No. 25 Albemarle (2-7, 2-3 Yadkin Valley) will travel to No. 8 Mountain Heritage (7-2, 5-1 Western Highlands), while No. 26 South Stanly will head to No. 7 Starmount (6-4, 5-1 Northwest). 

In the 2A West Region, No. 28 West Stanly (3-5, 1-3 Rocky River) will take a trip to No. 5 Hendersonville (8-1, 5-0 Mountain Foothills 7).