Davie hosting SE Guilford in playoff opener Friday

Published 9:35 am Thursday, November 17, 2016

Will Davie’s football team come down out of the clouds, or will it still be savoring its historic regular season when the War Eagles host Southeast Guilford on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in the first round of the 4A playoffs?

For fans, the temptation might be to look ahead to later rounds. But Davie fans should understand there’s no sure thing in the playoffs. In 2010, the War Eagles entered the postseason at 5-6 and eventually landed in the state championship game. In the first round in 2015, Scotland County was undefeated and a huge favorite over Davie. But the War Eagles gave the Scots all they wanted before losing 44-36.

The Falcons (6-5) are the No. 8 seed in the 4A West. Davie (10-1) is the top seed. The Falcons went 3-2 in the Metro Conference, finishing third behind Page (5-0) and Dudley (4-1). They have a winning tradition, going 7-5, 7-5, 11-3, 10-2 and 8-4 between 2011 and 2015.

They opened the season with a 30-13 win over West Charlotte (2-9). The second and third weeks were proof that SE Guilford is not a team to be taken lightly. It fell short 28-24 to Eastern Guilford, which is 11-0. Then they beat Southern Guilford 20-0, and Southern Guilford is 9-2.

After winning 14-13 over Northwest Guilford (7-4), the Falcons endured a three-game losing streak: 34-8 to Southwest Guilford (7-4), 25-22 to Ragsdale (4-7) and 42-6 to Page (10-1).

SE Guilford answered with a three-game rise: 35-18 over Smith (3-8), 36-21 over Southern Alamance (2-9) and 21-12 over Grimsley (4-7). It was drubbed 55-8 by Dudley (10-1) in the regular-season finale.

Davie and SEG have two common opponents. While SEG lost by 36 to Page, Davie handed the Pirates their only loss, 39-29. While SEG lost by 47 to Dudley, the Panthers erased Davie’s 6-0 lead and beat the War Eagles 32-6 on the night when quarterback Chris Reynolds was hobbled by a sprained ankle and Cooper Wall went down with cracked ribs.

“They’re a very good team on both sides of the ball,” Davie interim coach Tim Devericks said. “They’ve got kids all over the field (on defense). They pursue to the ball really well. They’ve got good, physical blockers up front (on offense). When their backs get a hole, they know what to do with it.”

Their backs operate out of the Wing-T. Devericks said the Falcons prefer a ground attack, running the ball 70 percent of the time.

“The running back (Phillip Petty) is quick and elusive,” he said. “The fullback (Joshua Jones) is powerful and he catches the ball out of the backfield. (Christopher Chancellor) is the other running back/tight end. He’s physical.”

Will the Falcons’ defense bring blitzes, or will they drop back into coverage against Reynolds and his receivers – Wall, Tyler Roberts, Beau Byerly and Mason Wilson?

“In the two games we’ve got on them, they like to bring pressure,” Devericks said. “But it’ll probably be a chess match and we’ll see what they decide to do.”

The War Eagles have won eight in a row, the longest streak in 12 years, and they’re coming off the fourth outright conference championship in the 61-year history. In the regular season, they stopped losing streaks to West Rowan, Reagan, West Forsyth and North Davidson. Another streak adds incentive to their playoff mindset: They have dropped three straight in the postseason, losing 14-7 in the second round to Mt. Tabor in 2012, 37-22 in the first round to Charlotte Catholic in 2014 and 44-36 in the first round to Scotland in 2015.

Davie is looking for its first playoff win in four years, dating to a 38-8 rout of Ragsdale in 2012 when Doug Illing was in his 15th and final year as coach.

“We’ve put ourselves in a position to get a really good seed,” Devericks said. “But we’re ready to get back in rhythm and get back on the field. There’s nothing like getting to play at War Eagle Stadium, having the sea of orange there and getting our Davie Crazies involved in the game. So I really think that helps our kids play even better.”

Notes: This will be the first-ever meeting between Davie and SEG. … The Davie-SEG winner will play either No. 5 A.L. Brown (8-3) or No. 4 Glenn (8-3). If Davie advances, it would remain at home. … Linebackers James Boyle (155 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, five sacks, eight pass breakups, eight caused fumbles) and Cody Hendrix (136 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, seven sacks, two caused fumbles) have combined for 291 tackles. They’re the top duo since D.J. Rice and Logan Buchanan teamed up for 300 in 2004.