(Gametime 7:30 except as noted)
No. 8 Athens Drive (5-6) at No. 1 Garner (11-0)
Garner beat Athens Drive 42-7 early in the season and the Jaguars have lost four of their past five. But five of Athens’ losses have been by a touchdown or less and the Jags beat an 8-3 Lee County team by 13 points. Athens’ Jason West has passed for 1,633 yards. Garner counters with the passing of Vincent Jefferies (1,395 yards) and the running of Raevon Smith (1,188 yards).
No. 5 Wake Forest-Rolesville (9-2) at No. 4 Wakefield (10-1)
Wakefield used its running game successfully in a 33-19 win against Wake Forest last month, but usually relies on the passing of Connor Mitch (3,683 yards, 53 TD) and the catching of Jordan Fieulleteau (1,303 yards). Wake Forest has a relentless rushing attack led by Bryce Love (943 yards), Devante Reynolds (641) and Chris Love (606). WFR’s Petey Williams (543 rushing yards) is a dangerous return man.
No. 6 Heritage (6-5) at No. 3 Leesville Road (10-0)
Heritage is the only team to hold Leesville to less than three touchdowns in a game this season. Leesville averages 40.4 points, but had to rally to stop Heritage 17-14. Heritage has held five of its past six opponents to two touchdowns or less. Leesville’s Braxton Berrios is a game-breaker.
No. 7 Wilmington Laney (5-5) at No. 2 Middle Creek (10-1)
Laney won only one game in its Mideastern Conference this year but lost three games by six points or less. Middle Creek’s David Salmon has thrown for 2,777 yards and 32 touchdowns.
No. 8 Cary (5-5) at No. 1 Richmond County (9-1)
Cary has made the postseason in 10 consecutive seasons but faces a tough first-round assignment at Richmond County. The Raiders have one of the state’s best football traditions and are considered a state contender. Raiders guard Ty Crowder (6-3, 305) is the top-ranked player in the state by scout.com.
No. 5 Green Hope (6-5) at No. 4 Fuquay-Varina (6-4)
For the third consecutive postseason, Fuquay-Varina will play a team from its Tri-Nine Conference in the first round. Fuquay beat Green Hope 21-17 during the regular season. Fuquay is led by Tyler Williams (1,007 rushing yards, 742 passing yards) Green Hope is on a two-game win streak and quarterback Chris Tutwiler has passed for 2,052 yards.
No. 6 Pinecrest (5-6) at No. 3 Hoke County (9-2)
Hoke’s only losses were to Scotland (34-14) and Richmond (49-14). Hoke beat Pinecrest 35-7 last week.
No. 7 Lumberton (5-5) at No. 2 Fayetteville Britt (9-2)
Lumberton finished fifth in the Southeastern and had lost four straight before beating Pembroke Swett last week 42-18. Britt, coached by Leesville Road graduate Brian Rimpf, lost to Scotland (30-24) and Fayetteville Smith (37-20). Britt shut out Lumberton 27-0 on the second week of the season.
No. 8 Fayetteville Pine Forest (7-4) at No. 1 New Bern (10-0)
New Bern has outscored its opposition 445 to 125. PineForest is the No. 4 seed from the Mid-South.
No. 5 Wilmington Hoggard (8-2) at No. 4 Southern Durham (6-4)
Southern Durham was open last week after rallying to beat Northern Durham 27-23 the week before. Southern’s Kendall Hinton has thrown for 2,215 yards and Maurice Trowell has 46 receptions for 911 yards. Hoggard’s only losses were to undefeated New Bern 39-7, and powerful New Hanover 20-7.
No. 6 Knightdale (7-3) at No. 3 Clayton (8-3)
The Comets ran for 414 yards and prevented big plays by Knightdale quarterback Marquavious Johnson in last week’s 42-21 win against Knightdale. The Knights hope to spring Johnson (1,213 yards rushing) and Nathaniel Harvey (861) this week. The Comets counter with runners Tam Barbour (1,260), Ced Harris (849) and Jace Brown (738).
No. 7 Southeast Raleigh (6-5) at No. 2 New Hanover (9-1)
The only blemish on New Hanover’s record is a 63-34 loss to unbeaten New Bern. Since then, the Wildcats are averaging 40-plus points in wins over Ashley, Laney, Rose and rival Hoggard. Southeast needs to slow Montrell Baldwin, who rushed for 140 yards against Hoggard last week.
No.8 East Chapel Hill (5-5) at No. 1 Scotland (9-1)
Laurinburg’s Fighting Scots (9-1) are the defending state 4A champs. They’ve won eight games since losing to New Hanover, 21-16.. East (5-5) is in the playoffs for just the third time, the first time ever as a 4A program.
No. 5 Fayetteville Sanford (7-4) at Lee County (8-3)
Terry Sanford finished behind Fayetteville Smith and Fayetteville Britt in the Mid-South. Lee’s Chase Arrington has rushed for 826 yards and passed for 1,576 as the Jackets finished second in the Tri-Nine behind Middle Creek.
No. 6 Southeast Guilford (6-5) at No. 3 Hillside (8-2)
Southeast Guilford’s defense is a little suspect, allowing 25.9 points per game. Hillside had won seven straight since dropping a 52-14 decision to Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha. The Hornets’ Khris Francis has rushed for 1,351 yards and Cinco Simmons has thrown for 1,733.
No. 7 Northern Durham (6-4) at No. 2 Fayetteville E. E. Smith (9-1)
Northern allows only 18.5 points per game, but will be tested by Smith, whose only loss was to Hillside 35-21. Smith pounded playoff-bound Fayetteville Britt 37-20 and Fayetteville Britt 37-20. Northern is led by the running of Kylyn Flemming (1,357 yards).
No. 8 Greenville Conley (7-4) at No. 1 Triton (10-0)
Dedrick Stacker leads the Triton attack with 1,183 yards. Conley is the third seed from the Coastal, despite forfeiting games to Jacksonville White Oak and West Carteret. On the field, Conley was 9-2.
No. 8 Cleveland (10-1) at No. 7 West Brunswick (5-5)
The Rams end up on the road facing a .500 team thanks to West’s finish as part of a three-way championship between West, East Bladen and South Columbus. South Columbus beat West Brunswick 27-14 Friday, while West took a 31-28 win against East Bladen earlier in the year. The loss stopped a five-game win streak. Cleveland hopes to have injured standout runner Isaac Martin in the lineup, but the Rams have lots of weapons. Execution will be the key for Cleveland.
No. 6 Southern Nash (8-2) at No. 3 Wilson Hunt (10-0)
Hunt won the Big East 3A and defeated Southern Nash 30-21 on Oct. 12. Southern Nash’s other loss was to South Granville 23-13.
No. 7 Gray’s Creek (8-3) at No. 2 Cardinal Gibbons (10-0)
Gray’s Creek could have won the Cape Fear Valley title last week with a win over Overhills, but lost 27-20 and dropped into a three-way tie for the title with Fayetteville Byrd and Overhills. Gibbons relies on the passing of Shawn Stankavage (1,712 yards and 25 touchdowns).
Other area teams
No. 5 Chapel Hill (8-3) at No. 4 Fayetteville Byrd (8-3)
This 3AA Mideast matchup pairs a couple of teams that played well down the stretch. Chapel Hill had won three straight before losing to Orange last week. Fayetteville Byrd (8-3) shared the Cape Fear Valley Conference title by winning five of their past six games.
No. 6 Southern Vance (5-5) at No. 3 South Johnston (7-3)
Southern Vance had lost four straight entering its season finale against rival Northern Vance, but Southern got a playoff berth with a 6-0 overtime win. Defense will be a big key for South Johnston. Austin Raynor has thrown for 1,573 yards.
No. 7 Eastern Wayne (4-6) at No. 2 Orange (8-2)
The Warriors lost two of their past three but won their last game of the season 13-0 to get into the playoffs. The Warriors have been outscored this season 305-211. Orange has outscored its opponents 316-127 and had one-touchdown losses to Cardinal Gibbons and Carrboro, which are both undefeated.
No. 7 North Brunswick (6-5) at No. 2 Bunn (8-2)
Bunn has won seven straight since losing to playoff-bound Southern Nash 37-14. Tarik Cohen has rushed for 879 yards. North Brunswick is the No. 4 seed from the 3A/2A Waccamaw and has lost three of its past four games.
No. 8 Burlington Cummings (5-5) at No. 1 Carrboro (11-0)
Cummings started the year 1-3 but won its last two games to get into the playoffs. Cummings’ Tevin Smith threw for four touchdowns in Cummings’ 42-35 win last week. Carrboro’s Alex McVeigh has passed for 1,703 yards and 19 touchdowns while Trai Sharpe has rushed for 1,611.
No. 5 Randleman (7-4) at No. 4 Franklinton (9-2)
Randleman has allowed one touchdown in the past three weeks and is the No. 3 seed from the Piedmont Athletic. Franklinton lost to Lakewood in the opener 49-47 and were overwhelmed by Bunn 45-8.
No. 6 Northwood (6-5) at No. 3 St. Pauls (8-3)
St. Pauls won its past two games to cap its first winning season since 2007. It is averaging 46.6 points. Northwood fought its way into the playoffs by winning its past two games by a combined 76-10 score.
No. 7 Corinth Holders (5-6) at No. 2 Reidsville (9-2)
If there’s one team that feels at home on the road as an underdog, it’s Corinth Holders. Four of the Pirates’ six wins this season were on the road. Reidsville has won three in a row, wrapping up the Mid-State Conference championship during that stretch.
No. 7 Louisburg (5-5) at No. 2 Edenton Holmes (10-0)
Louisburg was fourth in the Northern Carolina, but gave league winner Bunn a tough game last week before falling 28-22 last week. Holmes won the 3A/2A Northeastern/Coastal and outscored its opposition 398 to 132.
No. 6 Jordan-Matthews (6-5) at No. 3 South Granville (8-3)
Granville has been tested, losing to 3A Chapel Hill by one and to undefeated Carrboro by seven. Jordan-Matthews tied for fourth in the Mid-State 2A and dropped three of its past five.
No. 8 Princeton (2-8) at No. 1 North Duplin (7-3)
North Duplin quarterback Tyler Royal rushed for 425 yards and six touchdowns in North Duplin’s 41-20 win over Princeton earlier this season.
Cary Christian (7-3) at Southampton Academy (Va.) (10-0)
Cary Christian faces tough sledding against No. 1 seed Courtland (Va.). Southampton defeated Cary Christian 56-41 in a regular-season meeting.
Hobgood Academy (8-2) at Word of God (9-1)
Word of God defeated Hobgood 68-28 during the regular season. Casty St. Louis leads Word of God with 1,540 rushing yards
11-man Division II
Wake Christian (2-8) at Arden Christ School (10-0)
Christ School, the bracket’s top seed, has outscored its opposition 410 points to 72. The Greenies have scored 40 or more points in seven games and have held nine opponents to two touchdowns or less.
Hickory Grove (6-4) at North Raleigh Christian (8-2)
North Raleigh defeated Hickory Grove 42-15 last month. North Raleigh’s John Cook has passed for 1,861 yards and 30 touchdowns this season.
Tim Stevens, J. Mike Blake, D. Clay Best and Elliott Warnock contributed to this story