Couch Potato: East Bladen Fall Teams In Good Spots For State Playoffs
By Sonny Jones
Another week off the calendar and another week closer to the N.C. High School Athletic Association fall playoffs.
The volleyball regular season ends Tuesday with playoff brackets announced Thursday and the first round of the playoffs set for Saturday.
The boys’ soccer regular season ends Oct. 26 with playoff brackets announced Oct. 28 and first-round games scheduled Oct. 31.
The football regular season ends Oct. 28 with playoff brackets announced Oct. 29 and first-round games scheduled Nov. 4
How are Bladen County teams set for postseason? The East Bladen teams appear to be in and the West Bladen teams appear to be out.
There will be 32 teams from the East and 32 teams from the West to qualify for the football, volleyball and boys’ soccer playoffs. Conference champions are seeded 1 through 10 for the 2-A playoffs in each sport. The rest of the spots are determined by the Rating Percentage Index (RPI), which takes into account a teams’ win percentage, a teams’ opponents win percentage and a teams’ opponents’ opponents win percentage. Note that it’s win percentage and not record.
The Southeastern Athletic Conference, which includes East Bladen and West Bladen, ia assured two playoff berths. The league can have more than two teams based on RPI.
Ranking: 29; RPI: 0.46351
Record: 3-5 overall, 2-2 conference (4th place)
Remaining schedule: Friday, at Red Springs; Oct. 28, St. Pauls
Outlook: The Eagles moved up from No. 31 in RPI with their 42-26 win against Fairmont. East Bladen should be favored to win at Red Springs and will be an underdog against St. Pauls, but losing to the No. 17 Bulldogs shouldn’t hurt much because of the higher ranking. At No. 29, the Eagles would played the fourth-seeded conference champion in the 2-A East playoffs, which could be the winner of Friday’s Wallace-Rose Hill at East Duplin game. However, a lot can change in the next two weeks.
Ranking: 42; RPI: 0.34864
Ranking: 46; RPI: 0.33028
Record: 2-6 overall, 1-3 conference (5th place)
Remaining schedule: Friday, at St. Pauls, Oct. 28, Midway
Outlook: The Knights moved up from No. 46 with their 39-20 win against Red Springs. It’s difficult to see how West Bladen would jump over 10 teams to get among the top 32, especially with games against No. 17 St. Pauls and No. 23 Midway. Two wins are mandatory and, even then, the Knights would need help.
Ranking: 14; RPI: 0.55940
Record: 11-6 overall, 8-3 conference (2nd place)
Remaining schedule: Tuesday, at St. Pauls.
Outlook: The Eagles won twice last week, but dropped five spots to No. 14 in RPI. Why? East Bladen’s wins came against No. 43 Fairmont and No. 48 Red Springs, which have a combined 4-33 record, and RPI takes into account opponents’ winning percentage. It’s doubtful a win against No. 26 St. Pauls to close the season would help much. The 10 conference champions will be awarded the top seeds, then it goes to RPI. Currently, East Bladen would be No. 14 and could host Southeastern Conference rival No. 19 Clinton, but it will be determined by Tuesday’s results.
Ranking: 39; RPI: 0.39712
Record: 5-13 overall, 3-8 conference (5th place)
Remaining schedule: Tuesday, at Midway
Outlook: The Knights remained at No. 39 and won’t make the postseason. West Bladen’s final game will be against No. 2 and unbeaten Midway (20-0 overall, 11-0 SAC).
Ranking: 24; RPI: 0.49067
Record: 7-8 overall, 3-5 conference (4th place)
Remaining schedule: Oct. 24, Red Springs; Oct. 26, at St. Pauls
Outlook: The Eagles moved up two spots after losing to No. 4 Clinton and beating West Bladen last week. East Bladen doesn’t have a game scheduled this week and it will be interesting to see how that impacts its RPI. As the No. 24 seed, East Bladen would played the ninth-seeded conference champion, which right now would be Pender. We’ll see how it shakes out in two weeks.
Ranking: 39; RPI: 0.41622
Record: 5-8-1 overall, 0-6 conference (6th place)
Remaining schedule: Tuesday, at Red Springs; Wednesday, Red Springs; Oct. 24, at St. Pauls; 26, at Midway
Outlook: The Knights dropped two spots in RPI after losses to Clinton and East Bladen last week. Short of winning its final four games, all against teams comfortably in the playoffs, West Bladen will not make the 32-team bracket. Playing in the Southeastern Conference leaves little margin for error as the other five league teams are ranked No. 24 or above.
MONDAY’S PICK TO CLICK
Let’s go out on a limb. Steven Kwan has three hits and scores twice in helping Cleveland beat the Yankees in Game 5. If the Guardians win, it would mean three of the four teams who received first-round byes would be eliminated and there will be talk about adding an eighth playoff team in each league so no team gets a bye.
SUNDAY’S PICK: Gerrit Cole was paid a lot of money to pitch for the New York Yankees. He’ll show why in pitching into the 7th inning, allowing a solo home run and striking out 10 against Cleveland. RESULTS: Cole pitched 7 full innings, allowed 6 hits and 2 runs, including a solo home run, and struck out 8 in New York’s 4-2 win and force a decisive Game 5 at Yankee Stadium.
TODAY IN SPORTS HISTORY
• 1960 — The National League formally awards franchises to the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club Inc. headed by Joan Payson and a Houston, Texas, group headed by Judge Roy Hofheinz, Craig Cullinan and R.E. Smith.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
• WOMEN’S SOCCER: United States U-17 vs. Morocco, 10:15 a.m., FS2
• MLS PLAYOFFS: Inter Miami at NY City, 7 p.m., FS1
• MLB PLAYOFFS: Cleveland at NY Yankees, 7:30 p.m., TBS
• NFL: Denver at LA Chargers, 8:15 p.m., ESPN
• MLS PLAYOFFS: Minnesota at Dallas, 9:30 p.m., FS1
Sonny Jones can be reached at email@example.com and follow on Twitter @FOSonnyJones.