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Beyond the Scoreboard: Prep football playoff projections

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With two weeks left in the WNC high-school football regular season schedule, there are no teams that have officially clinched conference titles and automatic playoff berths. (Photo credit: Ed Clemente)

With two weeks left in the WNC high-school football regular season schedule, there are no teams that have officially clinched conference titles and automatic playoff berths.

But there are weekly projections about who will advance to postseason play, and while they are unofficial, the formula used is the one based on the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s plan for the playoffs.

This week’s projections have 17 WNC teams advancing to the playoffs – including four from the Western Mountain Athletic, the area’s only 3-A conference.

The projections also include five of the six teams in the Mountain Six 2-A, five from the Smoky Mountain 1-A and three from the Western Highlands 2-A/1-A.

The playoff format has changed from the previous set-up, when each of the four classes were subdivided into a total of eight classifications, with 32 teams in each of the eight divisions.

That has been pared down to just 48 teams in the 4-A and 1-A classes, with 64 schools each in the 2-A and 3-A divisions.

That reflects the new method of realignment, with the top 20 percent of schools (based on admission size) in 4-A, the bottom 20 percent in 1-A and 30 percent each in 2-A and 3-A.

Remember, these are unofficial and the projection breakdowns between A and AA divisions are based on last year’s numbers. The actual breakdown will be based on average daily membership (ADM), numbers that will be released next week.

And with two weeks to go, there could and will be changes to these projections.

Also, the playoffs will be seeded based on MaxPreps computer rankings for the first time.

There are first-round byes for top seeds in 4-A and 1-A, not in the other two classes.

Automatic berths are based on conference size – 1-4 teams = 1 bid, 5-8 teams = 2 bids, 9 or more teams = three bids.

Wild-card selections will depend only on MaxPreps rankings.

So for now, here’s who is in:

WMAC – In the 3AA West, Reynolds (8-0, 6-1) is a 2 seed, Asheville (5-4, 5-1) is an 8 seed and Erwin (4-4, 4-2) is a 13 seed. Tuscola (6-3, 4-2) is a 7 seed in the 3-A West.

West Henderson (6-3, 4-2) is not included in the projections.

Mountain Six – In the 2AA West, Franklin (9-0, 3-0) is a 3 seed, Pisgah (5-4, 1-2) an 11 seed and Smoky Mountain (4-5, 1-2) a 13 seed.

The 2A West includes No. 6 Hendersonville (6-3, 2-1) and No. 12 Brevard (6-3, 1-2).

Western Highlands – Mountain Heritage (8-0, 3-0) is a 2 seed in the 2A West. In the 1A West, Mitchell (8-1, 2-1) is a 2 seed with a first-round bye, Polk County (6-3, 2-1) is an 8 seed in the 1AA West.

Smoky Mountain – In the 1A West, Cherokee (9-0, 4-0) is a 3 seed with a bye; No. 5 Murphy (7-2, 3-1) would play No. 12 Rosman (2-7, 1-3) in the first round and Robbinsville (6-3, 2-2) is an 8 seed.

Swain County (5-4, 4-1) is a 6 seed in the 1AA West.

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