The high school football regular season wraps up Friday with conference championships and top seeds into next week’s N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs at stake.
The biggest showdown is at Wake Forest-Rolesville where Leesville Road will try to complete an undefeated regular season. Wake Forest has lost only once and could seize a share of the Cap Eight 4A title with a victory.
Cap Eight 4A
Leesville Road (9-0, 6-0) at Wake Forest-Rolesville (9-1, 5-1): Leesville can grab the league title and a possible No. 1 regional seed in the playoffs with a victory. Wake Forest’s only loss was to Wakefield, which plays Heritage. Wake Forest can create a two-way or three-way tie for the league title with a win.
Leesville leads the area with 336.3 rushing yards per game while WF-R gets 266.6 games on the ground. The Pride averages 40.9 points per game and Wake Forest averages 38.4. The Cougars give up 13.9 points and Leesville allows 15.6.
“The key I think is not giving up big plays,” said Wake Forest coach Reggie Lucas. “Leesville Road has the ability to make one big play after another. That not only changes the scoreboard in a hurry, but it can change the momentum. (Braxton) Berrios is a great player and makes a lot of big plays, but they’ve got a lot of other players that make big plays, too. Defensively, we can’t give up the big play.”
Berrios leads Leesville in rushing (894 yards) and receiving (427 yards).
Wake Forest has great running balance with Bryce Love (852 yards) leading three other 500-yard rushers, Chris Love (575), Devante Reynolds (568) and Petey Williams (515).
“The biggest thing for us is to be prepared for a very physical, hard-hitting game,” Lucas said. “We have to match Leesville’s intensity. If we don’t, we’re in trouble.
“Leesville is very familiar with us. They know what we want to do. We have to be mentally ready for a tough game.”
Wake Forest, Leesville, Heritage and Wakefield will be the league’s top-four finishers.
Greater Neuse 4A
Knightdale (7-2, 5-1) at Clayton (7-3, 5-1): The winner between Knightdale and Clayton would get a share of the league title should unbeaten Garner slip up against Harnett Central, but more likely the Knights and Clayton are playing for second place and the league’s second seed into the playoffs.
Knightdale’s Marquavious Johnson (1,161 yards) and Nathaniel Harvey (764 yards) lead an explosive attack. Clayton counters with Tam Barbour (1,107), Ced Harris (755) and Jace Brown (572).
Both teams are strong against the run. Clayton is allowing 15.9 points per game. Knightdale is giving up 19.3.
Piedmont Athletic 4A
Hillside (7-2, 5-0) at Northern Durham (6-3, 4-1): Northern Durham can create a three-way tie for the regular-season with a victory at Durham County Stadium over the Hornets. Southern Durham completed its regular season with a 27-23 win over Northern last week and will have a top-three finish.
Hillside’s Khris Francis has rushed for 1,180 yards while Cinco Simmons has thrown for 1,609.
Northern’s Kylyn Flemming is among the area leaders with 1,317 yards.
Holly Springs (4-5) at Lee County (7-3): Middle Creek is the league regular-season champion and the conference’s top seed to the playoffs, but the rest of the playoff picture is jumbled. Lee will be No. 2 with a win. Fuquay-Varina has finished its season with three league losses and Athens Drive will finish with three if it wins at Cary. Green Hope, which plays at Panther Creek, has four conference losses.
Eastern Carolina 3A
Erwin Triton (9-0, 5-0) at South Johnston (7-2, 4-1): Triton can win the league title with a win, but South Johnston can create a two-way or three-way tie for second with a win, depending on how Cleveland (9-1, 5-1) does against Southern Lee. South lost to Cleveland last week 47-21. Triton took a 43-40 win over Cleveland two weeks ago.
Orange (7-2, 3-1) at Chapel Hill (8-2, 3-1): Cardinal Gibbons (9-0, 4-1) will be the league’s top seed into the playoffs and can complete an undefeated regular season with a home victory over Oxford Webb (3-7, 2-2). Orange and Chapel Hill probably are playing for the conference’s No. 2 seed into the playoffs.
NCISAA eight-man playoffs
St. David’s (4-5) at Cary Christian (6-3): Top-seeded Courtland (Va.) Southampton will be at home against Lawrence Academy and second-seeded Raleigh Word of God is home against Rocky Mount Academy in first-round games. Southampton and Word of God are expected to meet in the finals. St. David’s beat Cary Christian 35-28 in their regular season meeting.