NEWLAND — With the delay of the NCHSAA high school football season until February 2021, schools across the state had to juggle its planned playing schedules and make a number of changes to accommodate the new season, and Avery was no exception.
Avery Football lost a number of its opponents due to the COVID-19-influenced season shuffle. Because of only having the ability to play seven regular-season games rather than the usual 11, all of Avery’s non-conference foes originally slated to play the Vikings had to be nixed for the coming campaign, including West Wilkes, North Wilkes, North Buncombe, Draughn, Cloudland (Tenn.), and Ashe County, leaving the Big Red with only five scheduled conference contests.
With two remaining weeks to schedule games, the Vikings staff made a number of calls to line up alternate opponents to play who faced a similar scheduling dilemma, and found a pair of partners in Asheville Christian Academy and North Iredell.
The Vikings will open its regular season on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, by hosting the Asheville Christian Academy Lions, coached by Mitchell County product Dr. Rick Spurling, and is a 3A member of the CAA Conference of North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association.
The following week, Avery will travel to Olin to take on North Iredell. The Raiders, coached by David Lewis, is a member of the North Piedmont 3A Conference, and finished with an 0-11 overall record in 2019.
On Friday, March 12, ACHS opens Western Highlands Conference play with a visit to Burnsville to take on the Mountain Heritage Cougars. Avery will host Madison on Friday, March 19, before taking a road trip to Columbus to tangle with the Wolverines at Polk County on March 26 and playing at Owen on Friday, April 2. The Vikings will conclude regular season play with its Senior Night contest at Mitchell on April 9.
Football playoffs will be subdivided into two 16-team tournaments for each classification, with the state championships taking place May 8. Unlike previous seasons where MaxPreps computerized rankings weighed into playoff seeding, this school year the NCHSAA will return to predetermined brackets in an effort to minimize travel for teams in the postseason.
Conferences with 1-6 teams, such as the WHC, will be given one automatic bid to the postseason, while conferences with 7-8 teams will receive two auto bids, and leagues with nine teams or greater will get three postseason bids. Conference winning percentage will determine wild card teams.
Split conferences, such as the 1A/2A WHC, will be based on the number of teams in each half of the split, meaning the top 1A and top 2A school in the Western Highlands Conference will earn automatic playoff berths.
The latest list of NCHSAA guidelines for football and all prep sports can be found by clicking to www.nchsaa.org/sites/default/files/2020-2021_ModifiedSportsRegulations_Sept8.pdf.