GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Sixteen teams remain in each of the four classifications of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association football playoffs.
The action continues this week, as the remaining teams fight for a fourth-round appearance — and a chance to advance to the regional rounds.
Here’s a look at this week’s East region matchups in each classification.
No. 8 Riverside-Martin (11-1) at No. 1 Tarboro (10-1)
Tarboro is looking to win a third-straight state championship. They won the 1-AA title in 2020-21, the last season of the subdivision’s existence. They went on to win the Class 1A title last season, defeating Mitchell 28-7 in the championship game. The Vikings’ only setback so far was a 56-54 loss at Hertford County in Week 2. Tarboro defeated Riverside 50-14 in a regular-season matchup on Oct. 14.
Riverside won its first two playoff games in convincing fashion. The Knights routed No. 25 Pamlico County in the first round, 62-12, before rolling past North Edgecombe in the second round, 44-14. The loss to Tarboro is Riverside’s only blemish this season.
No. 5. West Columbus (9-3) at No. 4 Northampton County (10-2)
With the help of an offensive surge in the second quarter, Northampton County powered past Northside-Pinetown 28-0 in the second round. Northampton quarterback Anthony Harding leads the Jaguars with 18 rushing touchdowns and 10 passing touchdowns.
West Columbus is set to make the three-hour drive from Cerro Gordo to Gaston. The Vikings have rattled off three straight wins since falling to Whiteville, 21-7, on Oct. 14. Senior running back Cameron Eady has rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season, tallying 15 touchdowns and averaging 110 yards per game.
No. 11 Hobbton (10-2) at No. 3 Rosewood (8-4)
This is a rematch between the top teams in the Carolina 1A Conference. Rosewood defeated Hobbton, 41-13, in their regular-season meeting. Rosewood recovered well after starting the season 1-4. The Eagles routed Chatham Central (44-6) and Warren County (49-16) to advance to the third round.
Meanwhile, Hobbton defeated No. 6 Southside on the road in Week 2, after cruising past No. 22 Northwest Halifax in the first round. Hobbton has recorded six straight wins since falling to Rosewood, averaging 47 points per game in that span.
No. 23 Perquimans (4-8) at No. 2 North Moore (12-0)
Who would’ve thought these two teams would meet in the third round? Perquimans finished the regular season with just two wins, while North Moore has routed the majority of its opponents this year.
Records aside, both teams have pulled off one lopsided win and one close victory so far in the playoffs. Perquimans snuck by No. 10 Wilson Prep, 34-32, in the first round, before cruising past No. 26 East Columbus, 48-14, in the second round. North Moore defeated No. 31 Lejeune, 53-7, in the first round before beating No. 18 Pender, 13-12, in the second round.
No. 8 Cummings (8-3) at No. 1 Princeton (11-1)
Ledy by senior running backs Christian Perris (246 carries, 2,703 yards, 40 TDs) and Brandon Turner (173 carries, 1,657 yards, 21 TDs), Princeton has been stellar this season, losing only its season opener at Smithfield-Selma.
Cummings paved its way to the third round with wins over No. 25 Bartlett Yancey and No. 24 Midway.
No. 12 Wallace-Rose Hill (10-2) at No. 4 Nash Central (9-3)
Wallace-Rose Hill got off to a fast start in the playoffs, putting up 74 points in a first-round win over No. 21 Kinston before defeating No. 5 Northeastern, 35-31. The Bulldogs are looking for a shot at redemption after falling to Shelby in the 2A state title game last year.
If the Bulldogs want to continue that mission, they’ll have to win on the road at Nash Central, one of the Big East 2A/3A Conference’s top teams this year. Nash Central is powered offensively by senior running back James Rodgers and junior running back Jarvis Jones. Jones also leads the Bulldogs with four interceptions.
No. 11 Hertford County (11-1) at No. 3 Whiteville (11-1)
Both of these teams had close calls in the second round. Hertford County snuck by No. 6 West Craven 44-43, while Whiteville defeated No. 14 Edenton Holmes 42-35.
Whiteville lost its season opener and has been on a roll since then. The Wolfpack finished at the top of the Waccamaw Conference. Hertford County also has just one setback this season, a 67-39 loss to Northeastern.
No. 7 Clinton (11-1) at No. 2 East Duplin (11-1)
Last season, East Duplin eliminated Clinton in the second round of the playoffs. The Panthers need to oust the Dark Horses again to stay alive, and that’s a challenge that hasn’t gotten any easier.
They’ll have to contain junior wingback Josiah McLaurin, who recently picked up an offer from Pittsburgh. McLaurin leads the Dark Horses in several statistical categories, including rushing touchdowns (18), receiving touchdowns (4), rushing yards per game (82.1) and receiving yards per game (44.5).
No. 9 Southern Durham (8-4) at No. 1 Northern Nash (12-0)
After losing four of its first six games this season, Southern Durham righted the ship, and the Spartans are now looking to make a deep playoff run.
Undefeated Northern Nash might be the Spartans’ biggest test yet. The Knights boast plenty of experience on offense. Senior quarterback Keno Jones is just shy of 2,000 passing yards this year. He’s tallied 29 passing touchdowns and just four interceptions. The team’s leading receiver, junior Randall King, has 13 touchdown receptions this season.
No. 28 Triton (7-5) at No. 20 Jacksonville (7-4)
The 28-seed is facing the 20-seed in the third round. Who would’ve thought?
These teams certainly earned their way here. After a 21-17 win over No. 13 Rocky Mount in the first round, Jacksonville stunned No. 4 Havelock, 49-42, in the second round. Meanwhile, Triton routed No. 5 C.B. Aycock, 53-28, before powering past No. 21 Hunt, 35-16.
No. 6 North Brunswick (11-1) at No. 3 Seventy-First (12-0)
After ousting No. 14 J.H. Rose last week, Seventy-First will host the Scorpions of North Brunswick this week.
North Brunswick has had one setback this season, a Week 4 loss to New Hanover. They’ve won eight in a row since then, including playoff victories over No. 27 Westover and No. 22 Lee County.
No. 7 Terry Sanford (10-2) at No. 2 Eastern Alamance (11-1)
We might not see a more dramatic ending to a game this season than Terry Sanford’s last-second, game-winning Hail Mary against No. 10 Scotland last week.
Eastern Alamance had a close second-round finish of its own, defeating Burlington Williams, 27-24 in overtime.
No. 9 Pine Forest (10-2) at No. 1 Hillside (12-0)
Top-seeded Hillside stayed alive with a 46-43 win over No. 16 Apex last week. Hillside has several key weapons on offense, including a 2,000-yard passer in quarterback Wilson Kargbo Jr., a 2,000-yard rusher in Jimmyll Williams and a pair of standout receivers in Khalik Johnson and Tahir Henry.
Pine Forest went undefeated in conference play this year. The Trojans have tallied 25 rushing touchdowns this year, led by Xayden Watson (9), Zarron Jeter (7) and Mathias Winston (6).
No. 13 Southern Alamance (9-3) at No. 12 Millbrook (11-1)
Millbrook eliminated defending 4A state champion Cardinal Gibbons to advance to the third round. Meanwhile, Southern Alalamnce defeated No. 4 New Hanover last week.
No. 11 Rolesville (9-3) at No. 3 Wake Forest (10-2)
Wake Forest won three straight 4-AA state titles from 2016-2018. The Cougars are looking to add a fourth football title to their trophy case.
Rolesville has a chance at revenge after losing to Wake Forest, 24-20, during the regular season. The Cougars led the Rams, 17-0, at halftime in that game, and Rolesville’s second-half comeback attempt came up short.
No. 23 Jordan (6-6) at No. 2 New Bern (12-0)
Jordan got to this point by pulling off upsets against No. 10 Jack Britt and No. 7 Pinecrest.
New Bern used its strength in the trenches to shut out No. 18 Hoggard 21-0 last week. Northside-Jacksonville is the only team to score more than 14 points against the Bears this season (New Bern won that game, 54-26).