Tonight's key matchups

September 16, 2011 

No. 9 Fuquay-Varina (3-1) at No. 2 Cary (4-0), 7:30 p.m.: The Cary defense is one of the big high school stories of the season. The Imps have allowed only two touchdowns in their first four games and their defenders have outscored opposing offenses18-12. Fuquay has scored 40 or more points in three of its four games. Fuquay's Carlton Bridges and Ricky Fergerson and Cary's Deandre Henry each average more than 100 yards rushing per game. Last year, Fuquay beat Cary 35-17 during the regular season and 6-0 in the playoffs.

No. 3 Durham Hillside (3-1) at No. 11 Southern Durham (2-2), 7:30 p.m.: The Piedmont Athletic 4-A Conference favorites open their league seasons against each other and a showdown similar to last year's 13-12 Hillside win is expected. Each team has played a difficult schedule. Hillside lost its opener to New Bern, but has been impressive since. Southern defeated Middle Creek by 3 and lost last week in overtime to Washington (D.C.) Dunbar. The running of Akeem Judd and Darrien Bullock, plus the quarterback skills of Dorian Belcher, give Spartans fans plenty of reasons to believe.

"It's our first conference game. That's what's really important to us," Southern coach Adrian Jones said. "You win that first conference game and you're immediately up a game on half the teams in the conference. It's really important that we get off to a good start."

No. 7 Southeast Raleigh (2-1) at No. 10 Harnett Central (3-0), 7:30: Southeast Raleigh was ranked No. 2 in the area before falling to Wake Forest-Rolesville 30-27 last week. Southeast is led by quarterback David Washington, who has thrown 11 touchdown passes and has run for two more touchdowns in three games. Central has showed the ability to win close games, capturing its three contests by two, seven and six points. Last year, Southeast won 43-6 in the regular season and 35-20 in the playoffs.

No. 1 Garner (4-0) at Clayton (1-3), 7:30: The Garner vs. Clayton rivalry goes back to the old Capital Area 2-A Conference days when both towns still had train stations. Garner has more firepower with runners Juwan Moye and Demetrius Fairley, but Clayton showed its mettle in a 21-20 overtime loss to Fuquay-Varina. "Clayton always plays hard," said Garner coach Nelson Smith, whose club beat the Comets 38-10 in 2010. "Clayton is one of our toughest games each year."

No. 12 Millbrook (3-1) at Broughton (1-2), 7 p.m.: Millbrook and Broughton are led by two of the top running backs in the state. Millbrook's Keith Marshall, who averages 116 yards rushing, is the top-ranked runner in the nation by some recruiting services while Broughton's Chris Mangus has committed to Virginia Tech. Mangus averages 163.6 rushing yards per game. The Caps took a 52-26 win over Millbrook last year.

Cedar Ridge (2-2) at Chapel Hill (4-0), 7:30 p.m.: Quarterback T.J. Johnson rallied Chapel Hill past Pittsboro Northwood 19-14 last week. Johnson is passing for 160 yards per game. Cedar Ridge defeated the Tigers 27-6 a year ago. Phillip Chalmers leads the Wolves with 113 rushing yards per game.

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