Kinston faces Ayden-Grifton at home for playoffs, Greene Central goes on the road

Kinston faces Ayden-Grifton at home for playoffs, Greene Central goes on the road

Kinston will head into the playoffs with the No. 4 seed in the East, hosting Ayden-Grifton Friday. Photo by William “Bud” Hardy / Neuse News

The NCHSAA 2A playoff brackets are set.

Three local teams from the Eastern Carolina Conference will be looking toward a state championship and two have drawn each other in the first round. Kinston (10-0) earned the No. 4 seed in the East and will face No. 13 Ayden-Grifton (7-4) Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Vikings defeated the Chargers 28-7 on Oct. 13, but Kinston coach Ryan Gieselman said the team can’t leave anything to chance.

“The gameplan’s going to be different,” Gieselman said. “They’ve changed since the last time we played them and we’ve done some different things. We can’t take it lightly — we have to play better than we have over the past three weeks because now it’s win or go home.”

The Rams (6-5) received a No. 14 and a trip to Tabor City to face No. 3 South Columbus. The Stallions  (11-0) are looking for their third consecutive 12-win season and have outscored opponents this season 497-164.

“They’re a very talented football team,” Greene Central coach Allen Wooten said. “In the last 25 years they’ve had 17 conference championships and 15 10-win seasons. Come playoff time those are the teams we’ll see, and we can’t turn the ball over or miss tackles. We have to play with passion for 48 minutes.”

Multiple attempts to reach Ayden-Grifton coach Paul Cornwell were unsuccessful.

This is Kinston’s second time finishing the regular season undefeated. The first time was in 2015 — also under Gieselman — with the Vikings reaching the state championship game in the process. In the same season, Ayden-Grifton nearly upset Kinston in the second round, but fell 18-14.

The Chargers will be playing in their 17th consecutive postseason while the Vikings are seeing an 11th straight appearance. Meanwhile, the Rams have seen the playoffs six straight years under Wooten and have performed well on the road in 2018. Greene Central is 5-1 outside of Snow Hill this season.

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