The North Carolina High School Athletic Association released its newest Average Daily Membership numbers on Thursday afternoon, which will be used to set up the upcoming state football playoffs.

The numbers show that Orange High has the lowest ADM of any Big 8 Conference school that will make the playoffs (1,201). The only schools in the Big 8 that have lower ADMs are Cedar Ridge (1,159), Northern Vance (840), and J.F. Webb (875). Northern Vance and Webb will drop down to 2A at the conclusion of the academic year.

The new numbers mean Orange could find themselves playing for the 3-A state championship, or the “Little 3 title,” instead of the 3-AA state championship that Orange has played for each of the┬ápast three seasons.

For those unfamiliar with the playoff process, 64 3A teams make the state playoffs. The ADM of those 64 teams are totaled, then divided to finalize an average. Schools whose ADMs fall above the mean qualify for the 3-AA state playoffs. Schools that fall below it compete for the 3-A state playoffs.

Orange hovers near the borderline.

Based on projections from WRAL, if these 64 teams make the playoffs, the mean will be 1,287.

Of course, there’s still two weeks to go in high school football’s regular season because of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association extending the campaign by one week due to Hurricane Matthew’s flooding delaying games for school in the southeast.

Orange finished its regular season last week with a perfect 11-0 record and the Big 8 Championship. It’s the first time the Panthers have gone undefeated during the regular season since 1978.

Don’t forget, things can change. Some of the teams WRAL has slated to make the playoffs, in either the east or west region, may miss out. A school with a much smaller ADM could get in, which may lower the average and vault Orange into the 3-AA playoffs. It won’t take very many alterations since Orange is only 86 students below the borderline.

Time will tell with Selection Saturday coming up on November 12th.

If Orange goes to the 3A bracket, they won’t face Southern Durham in the playoffs. Or Northwood, for that matter.

Instead, the Panthers will likely find themselves in the same tournament as the top six teams in 3A football, according to the most recent poll from the Associated Press.

Among the squads likely to play for the 3A championship: Lenoir Hibriten (ranked #1 in the state with an ADM of 1,014); Southern Nash (ranked #3 with an ADM of 1,101); West Craven (ranked #4, ADM: 971); Havelock (ranked #5, ADM 1, 077);

Orange is currently #2 in the state after receiving three first place votes in last week’s poll.

While ADM changes from year-to-year, it’s worth noting that Orange and Cedar Ridge have the lowest ADMs among the schools that will comprise the new Big 8 conference starting next year. Hillside, who claimed its 7th consecutive 4-A PAC-6 championship last week and will drop down to 3-A in 2017, has the highest at 1,589. The Hornets are┬ájust ahead of Northern Durham (1,562) and Chapel Hill (1,532). Northwood, which competed in the 3-A playoffs in 2013, has ballooned to 1,407, ahead of East Chapel Hill (1,376).

The Department of Public Instruction defines ADM as ” The total number of school days within a given term – usually a school month or school year – that a student’s name is on the current roll of a class, regardless of his/her being present or absent, is the “number of days in membership” for that student.”


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