I didn't feel good about doing fall sports predictions before the season started. I hope you'll forgive me. I had my reasons.
For one, I was on furlough for a full seven days before fall sports began. I would have had to either post this blog more than a week before the first game, or I could've posted it at about 2 a.m. the morning fall sports began.
And in case you missed any of our previews, some sports seem absolutely wide open this year - most notably boys soccer (new USSDA rule plus graduation losses) and volleyball (top seniors graduated). The last time I felt that unsure of a prediction, a team I picked to not make the playoffs won the state championship. I didn't want that to happen again.
But now that we have a very small sample size of results, I'm ready to forecast this year's fall sports in the Tri-9 Conference. You can click the keyword 'predictions' above to see how I've fared in the past.
Cross country: I'll take Green Hope in girls, Cary in boys.
Volleyball: Five to make the postseason: 1-Apex, 2-Green Hope, 3-Holly Springs, 4-Cary, 5-Fuquay-Varina. Possible wild-card: Middle Creek - has enough non-conference games to pick up wins, but must finish 6th in Tri-9
Girls tennis: Panther Creek and Green Hope are my top two, and I'll go with Green Hope as No. 1.
Girls golf: Might be back-and-forth between Green Hope and Middle Creek this year. Green Hope's depth gives it the edge.
Boys soccer: Five to make the postseason: 1-Apex, 2-Fuquay-Varina, 3-Green Hope, 4-Middle Creek, 5-Athens Drive. Possible wild-card: Panther Creek - tough non-conference schedule hurts likelihood of a wild-card, so it's best to aim on finishing top five.
Football: Since people demand explanation of football picks 1-9 every year, I've give you a sentence or two with each pick. Reminder: I can't pick ties, which happen all the time in football. So a pick for, say, seventh could I think you'll be in a three-way tie for fifth.. or I could just think you're going to finish seventh.
- Middle Creek: I'm not terribly worried about youth on defense. I like the offensive potential.
- Cary: Good vibes these days about what the Imps could do. I'm buying.
- Fuquay-Varina: So many questions after losing all those seniors, but Fuquay's coaching staff has built a program that seems rebuilding-proof.
- Athens Drive: I've got a good feeling about the Jaguars. So many returners from a program that's been a borderline playoff team for two seasons.
- Panther Creek: The Catamounts will be a very tough out in a tough conference. They could tie for a spot in the top 3 easily.
- Lee County: A bit of an enigma to us all, but I expect them to put up some points with QB Chase Arrington.
- Green Hope: For the first time in forever, the Falcons are excited about their defense. Many forget how close GH was to winning two or three Tri-9 games last year.
- Holly Springs: Many fans are really pumped about coach Will Orbin. If he can turn around a 2-8 team while breaking in 18 starters, they all should be.
- Apex: A truly transitional year for the Cougars, much like with Holly Springs. If they stay healthy, however, Apex could surprise.