The Huskies are one of 14 area teams who made the NCHSAA field

GASTONIA - Hunter Huss High School has already set school records for best start to a football season, most wins in a season and most shutouts in a season.

Now the Huskies know their path to their season-long goal of a first-ever state football championship.

"We're excited and honored to earn a No. 2 seed in the small 3A side of the state playoff bracket," said Huss coach Jamar McKoy, whose team hosts Big South 3A Conference rival Burns on Friday at 7:30 p.m. "Now we've got to gear up and get ready for Burns."

For Huss, like seven other local teams, it'll mark a regular season rematch.

The Huskies won 41-0 at Burns on Sept. 28 this season - the second of their five shutouts this year.

"It's hard beating a team twice in the same season," McKoy said. "So we know we'll have to prepare. We did celebrate our season on Monday (last week). But this Monday, everybody is 0-0. Our goal is to 1-0 next Friday."

Huss is one of 14 area high school football teams that will compete for the 2018 N.C. High School Athletic Association playoff pairings that were announced on Saturday.

Seven Gaston County schools (Ashbrook, Bessemer City, Cherryville, Stuart Cramer, Highland Tech, Hunter Huss and South Point), four Cleveland County schools (Burns, Crest, Kings Mountain and Shelby) and three Lincoln County schools (East Lincoln, North Lincoln and West Lincoln) will begin playoffs that end with the state championship games on Dec. 14 and 15.

In N.C. Class 3AA, 16th-seeded Ashbrook (5-6) plays at top-seeded Watauga (11-0)

In N.C. Class 3A, second-seeded Hunter Huss (11-0) hosts 15th-seeded Burns (4-7), fifth-seeded Kings Mountain (9-2) hosts 12th-seeded West Rowan (6-5) and seventh-seeded Crest (8-3) hosts 10th-seeded Stuart Cramer (7-4). Northwest Cabarrus is the top-seeded team.

In N.C. Class 2AA, 16th-seeded East Lincoln (5-6) plays at top-seeded Pisgah (10-1), fourth-seeded Shelby (8-3) hosts 13th-seeded West Lincoln (9-2), eighth-seeded North Lincoln (8-3) hosts ninth-seeded Smoky Mountain (8-3) and 10th-seeded South Point (8-3) plays at seventh-seeded Mount Pleasant (6-5).

And in N.C. Class 1AA, fifth-seeded Bessemer City (6-5) hosts 12th-seeded Highland Tech (4-6), seventh-seeded Cherryville (7-4) hosts 10th-seeded Community School of Davidson (6-5) and ninth-seeded Mountain Island Charter (7-4) plays at eighth-seeded Swain County (6-5).

All first round games are scheduled for Friday at 7:30 p.m.

In addition to the Huss-Burns league rematch, Crest and Stuart Cramer have a Big South 3A rematch and Bessemer City-Highland Tech and Cherryville-Community School of Davidson will have Southern Piedmont 1A rematches.

Ironically, each regular season game came on Sept. 28.

And three of the teams that host Friday playoff games won the regular season contests, as Crest won 27-7 at Stuart Cramer and Bessemer City beat visiting Highland Tech 24-12.

Community School of Davidson won 42-36 at Cherryville.

Here's a postseason note of each of the area's 14 teams:

Ashbrook - The Green Wave are making its 17th straight playoff berth but Ashbrook has only playoff win (2013) since the 2008 season.

Bessemer City - The Yellow Jackets are playing their fourth opening-round playoff home game in five seasons.

Burns - The Bulldogs are making their first playoff appearance since 2016 and Burns has won six straight opening round postseason games.

Cherryville - The Ironmen are 3-3 in home games all-time in their playoff history, the last a 42-13 win over Highland Tech in 2013.

Stuart Cramer - The Storm made their first playoff appearance in 2016 and won their first postseason game last season.

Crest - The Chargers are in the playoffs 26 straight seasons and are seeking their 26th straight first round playoff victory.

East Lincoln - The Mustangs are making their 14th straight playoff appearance.

Highland Tech - The Rams are making their third all-time playoff appearance. Previous appearances came in 2002 and 2013 when Highland Tech finished 1-11 overall.

Hunter Huss - The Huskies' 11-0 record bettered the school's five previous 10-win seasons; Huss went 10-1 in 1976, 10-2 in 1987 and 1991 and 10-4 in 1995 and 2016.

Kings Mountain - The Mountaineers host a first round playoff game for a fourth straight season.

Mountain Island Charter - The Raptors have made the playoffs in each of their four seasons.

North Lincoln - The Knights are hosting their third postseason game in history and making their first playoff appearance since 2008.

Shelby - The Golden Lions, who are an area-best 121-39-5 in 53 previous postseason appearances, have hosted a first round postseason game every year since the NCHSAA began seeding teams in 1997.

South Point - The Red Raiders have hosted 17 of their previous 18 first round playoff games. The only road game? A 31-27 loss at Anson County in 2005.

West Lincoln - The Rebels, who have won nine games in a season for the first time in the school's 57-year history, seek their first-ever playoff win; West Lincoln is 0-8 and has lost opening-round games at Shelby in 2006 (48-22) and 2011 (60-13).

 

Richard Walker: 704-869-1843; twitter.com/jrwalk22