Two of the three best football teams in the Piedmont Athletic 4-A may be playing tonight when Southern Durham makes the short hop over to Durham Hillside's Russell Blunt Stadium.
Hillside, No. 1 in The News & Observer rankings, is the overwhelming league favorite. Durham Jordan (4-1) and Southern Durham (0-5) appear to be the only two league teams that can threaten the Hornets' conference title quest.
Except for Hillside and Jordan, the PAC Six is a humble 3-24 in nonconference games this season.
Southern's record may be deceptive. The Spartans were ranked in the N&O top dozen in the preseason. Their five losses have come against teams with a combined 23-2 record. A lot of teams would be 0-5 after playing Wake Forest-Rolesville, Millbrook and Fayetteville Byrd, which are undefeated, and Middle Creek and Greenville Rose, which have lost once each.
Southern's five losses have ranged from five to 10 points, but it will be tough for the Spartans against a Hillside team that has a legitimate chance of winning a state title.
Jordan, whose only loss was to unbeaten Panther Creek, is at home tonight against pass-oriented East Chapel Hill
No. 12 Broughton at No. 4 Millbrook: The Cap Seven, which has four teams in the N&O top dozen, gets down to serious business tonight. Millbrook (5-0) faces a Broughton team (3-2) that has been exceptional for the last month. In other league openers, No. 10 Wakefield (4-1) and No. 11 Leesville Road (4-1) are favored against Sanderson and Enloe, respectively.
No. 8 Middle Creek at No. 9 Athens Drive: How do you pick between these two? Athens Drive's only loss was by two points to Broughton, while Middle Creek (4-1) lost to a surging Garner team. The temptation is to pick Athens Drive (3-1), but the Jaguars' three wins have come against teams with only one victory among them. Middle Creek has played a tougher schedule and should take a step forward in the Tri-Nine 4-A.
West Johnston at No. 2 Harnett Central: Central (5-0) could be ripe to lose focus, but that probably isn't going to happen. West Johnston (1-4) will have a hard time moving on the Trojans.
No. 5 Panther Creek at Apex: Apex (1-4) generally moves the ball but is allowing 36 points per game. The Catamounts will pile up some big offensive numbers.
No. 7 Cary at Holly Springs: Holly Springs (1-4) has dropped four straight but still is one of those teams that can compete with almost anybody. Cary (4-1) lost to Fuquay-Varina in a big Tri-Nine game but may still contend for the league title.
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