High Schools

One team will exit from the undefeated ranks tonight

tstevens@newsobserver.comSeptember 27, 2012 

There will be one less undefeated high school football team in the area on Saturday morning, barring bad weather, a blackout or other unforeseen complications on Friday night.

Either Wakefield or Leesville Road will lose the distinction of being unbeaten after their Cap Eight 4A Conference game. The showdown is scheduled for 7 p.m. and is the first of three big league games during the last half of the season.

Wakefield plays next week at Wake Forest-Rolesville, which is undefeated and is expected to remain so after its home game Friday night against Broughton. The Wolverines can essentially lock up the Cap Eight’s top seed in the N.C. High School Athletic Association by winning both games. Wakefield will be heavily favored in its last three games against Enloe, Broughton and Heritage.

But Wake Forest’s home game at Trentini Stadium on the last playing date of the regular season on Oct. 26 could be huge if Wakefield doesn’t sweep its two Cap Eight primary rivals.

All three teams – Wake Forest, Leesville and Wakefield – have the opportunity to take a huge step forward by beating the other two teams. All three teams appear to be among the best in the state.

Here’s my arguments for and against the area’s six top-ranked teams.

1. Garner: The Trojans have dominated every game, but Middle Creek looked mighty good for a half before being buried 46-29.

2. Wakefield: The Wolverines are an offensive juggernaut, but the defense is questionable.

3. Leesville Road: The Pride hasn’t been tested since a season-opening 21-7 win over Panther Creek, but the schedule hasn’t been that demanding.

4. Wake Forest-Rolesville: The Cougars are rivaled only by Garner in dominating opponents, but depth could become a factor.

5. Cleveland: The Rams, a 3A team, seemed to be on the ropes when they trailed North Lenoir 16-0. The difficulty of Cleveland’s eventual 22-16 win raised concerns.

6. Cardinal Gibbons: The Crusaders survived two opening tests against Clayton and Cary, but the rest of the schedule may yield few clues about how good the team really is.

For fun, I ranked the six teams in strength of schedule, offense, defense and special teams play, giving my top team six points and my sixth team one.

On my chart, Wake Forest-Rolesville finished on top with 21 points led by the top-rated defense and special teams. Garner had 20 points with the toughest schedule. Wakefield and Leesville Road tied for third with 13 points.

But the rankings were subjective. Are Wake Forest’s special teams really better than Garner’s? Is Wake Forest’s defense better than Leesville Road’s? Is Wakefield’s offense as good as it seems, or has its effectiveness been tempered by playing six teams with a combined eight wins?

A lot of these questions will be answered within the next couple of weeks, but some will linger into the playoffs. And it’s possible some won’t be answered at all.

TSTEVENS: 919-829-8910

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