There’s supposed to be an aura of the unknown for teams that make the high school football playoffs.

The vast majority of the time, teams get a new opponent from a different conference in a town several counties away.

For teams in the Big 8 Conference, that’s not the case this year. The first two rounds will be a family affair.

Co-Big 8 Champion Orange, seeded sixth, will face Northwood on Friday night in Hillsborough. The winner faces Co-Big 8 Champion Southern Durham, the third seed, against Chapel Hill.

Oddly enough, it was the Tigers who brought calm, order and extra sleep for three local athletic directors on the last night of the regular season. Chapel Hill upset Northwood 19-17 in Pittsboro, ruining the Chargers chances of tying Southern Durham and Orange for a share of the Big 8 Championship.

If Northwood had won, Orange, Southern and Northwood would have had to draw for seeding in the Big 8. The athletic directors at all three schools had already organized a meeting at an IHOP in Durham Saturday morning in advance.

It never got that far.

Instead, Northwood’s loss led to the Spartans taking the top seed. Southern defeated Orange on September 24th to earn the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Orange defeated Northwood 14-0 on October 1, the first time the Chargers were shut out since 2004. It was played on a Thursday night in advance of Hurricane Joaquin, but that didn’t keep the rain away. The game was played in a downpour. The field was so entrenched with water in the first quarter, it was impossible to see the yard numbers from the press box. The turn left Chargers running back Montel Goods unable to cut back on running plays designed for him to do just that.

As fate would have it, the previous time Northwood was shut out was in 2004 by the Graham Red Devils—coached by Pat Moser, who now coaches Orange.

Drew Lemaster and Alex Long scored Orange’s touchdowns, while the defense held Goods to 53 yards, a season low. Goods came into the game with three consecutive 200-yard rushing efforts.

For Southern Durham, hosting Chapel Hill in the state playoffs is becoming an annual tradition. It’s the fourth time in nine years the Spartans have hosted the Tigers in the playoffs.

The two teams met in the 3rd round of the 2007 4-A playoffs, which Southern won 19-14. Last year, Chapel Hill stunned the Spartans 39-28, ending Southern’s hopes of repeating as 3-AA state champions. It was also the final game for Southern quarterback Kendall Hinton, now at Wake Forest.

We’ll have coverage of Orange-Northwood Friday night at 7:30 here on Listen in.

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