Friday night's high school football playoff previews

From staff reportsNovember 9, 2012 

4AA East

Wakefield (11-1) at Garner (12-0)

This is one of those games that prep football junkies have been dreaming about since the end of last season. The area’s most consistent winners against the team with plenty of top on offense, including a quarterback good enough to draw Steve Spurrier’s eye.

Connor Mitch is the Wolverines’ passer extraordinaire, throwing for 4,047 yards and 58 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. He’s a South Carolina recruit and his favorite target – Jordan Fieulleteau – is committed to North Carolina.. Fieulleteau has 24 TD receptions and 1,347 yards receiving. But watch out for teammate Quinton Ridges, whose 12 TDs are good for top-10 status in the area as well.

Wakefield averages 44.5 points per game and Garner 44.0, so you’d have to be surprised if this one turns into a defensive battle.

Leesville Road (11-0) at Middle Creek (11-1)

Middle Creek passed its first-round test against Wilmington Laney, and now the Mustangs must prepare for undefeated Leesville Road (11-0). The Pride has dominated this season, scoring about 41 points per game and allowing about 14.

Leesville hasn’t consistently played the level of competition as Middle Creek – the Mustangs faced eight playoff-bound teams while Leesville played four – but the Pride has stepped up in showdowns with pass-happy Wakefield and run-oriented Wake Forest-Rolesville.

How the Pride defends against the balanced and explosive Middle Creek attack will be crucial. Turnovers loom large for Middle Creek, which may be one turnover-filled quarter away from being undefeated this year.

Fuquay-Varina (7-4) at Richmond County (10-1)

After Cary made the trip last week, it’s Fuquay-Varina’s turn to travel down U.S. 1 to visit Richmond County in 4AA Mideast action.

The Bengals have turned things up on offense in the last few weeks, scoring 31 or more points in four straight games after scoring more than 21 only once early in the season. Fuquay’s defense will be tested the most against a strong and fast Raiders team.

Richmond lines up almost exclusively in the pistol formation, with both running backs directly behind the quarterback. The Raiders like to get to the edge with speedy back Dakwa Nichols, an N.C. State recruit. Richmond tackle Tyrne Crowder ranks with the best in the country.

4A East

Clayton (9-3) at Wilmington New Hanover (10-1)

Clayton hasn’t fared very well heading east in the playoffs during the past five years. The Comets are 0-4 during that stretch, the last two of those losses coming against New Bern.

New Hanover defeated Southeast Raleigh 28-14 in a penalty-filled and turnover-marred effort last week, extending their win streak to five games. Clayton beat Southeast 32-22 during Greater Neuse River 4A Conference regular season.

New Hanover’s marque win is a 21-16 win at 2011 4A state champion Scotland County on Aug. 24. New Bern dropped New Hanover 63-34 for its only loss of the season.

The Wildcats average 41.2 points a game and Clayton has been scoring 39.1 during its current seven-game winning streak.

4A Mideast

Lee County (9-3) at Scotland (10-1)

Scotland won the 2011 4A title and is expected to be in the hunt again. The Scots are flying high after beating nemesis Richmond County 21-14 in the final regular season game and pasting East Chapel Hill 40-5 in the playoff opener.

Lee hung with the Raiders before falling 55-28. The Jackets’ Chase Arrington has passed for 1,576 yards and run for 826.

3AA East

Greenville Conley (8-4) at Cleveland (11-1)

Everybody pretty much knew this 3AA regional bracket was the bee’s knees before the playoffs started. And although Triton’s loss means we don’t have four teams facing off in second round games that are a combined 44-1, we still have a quartet of clubs that are a combined 43-3 on the field.

Conley had to forfeit a pair of midseason wins over Jacksonville White Oak and West Carteret, dropping its record to 8-4 on the season. The Vikings’ other losses came against Havelock, the reigning 3A titleholder, and a 9-3 Washington team.

Conley held Triton scoreless last week and senior quarterback Davis Kirkpatrick and runner Walker Cummings ran for a combined 180 yards against the Hawks. Conley ran for 153 yards in the opening quarter.

The key for Cleveland is doing what it does best – move the ball on offense and control the game with the defensive front seven. Getting Isaac Martin back in the backfield would be a big boost as well, but the Rams’ run game piled up another 300-plus yard night without him in their opening round victory.

4A Mideast

Chapel Hill (9-3) at Northern Guilford (11-0)

Chapel Hill went on the road last week and rallied to take a 23-20 double overtime victory over Fayetteville Byrd. The Tigers attack is led by quarterback E.J. Johnson (1,068 passing yards) and Darius Johnson (1,032 rushing yards).

Northern Guilford pounded Asheboro 69-0 last week. The Nighthawks have won eight of their 11 games by 38 points or more and average 300 yards rushing. T.J. Logan averages 180 rushing yards.

3A East

South Johnston (9-3) at Hillsborough Orange (9-2)

Orange’s dropped two games this season, both by a touchdown, 27-19 against Carrboro on Aug. 31 and 28-21 to Gibbons on Oct. 19.

Patrick Pettiford leads Orange in rushing, but the Panthers get big contributions from the Pittmans – Jalen and Jamal – in the run game as well. Sean Morley directs things at quarterback.

The Panthers have held four teams to less than 100 yards rushing this season and three more to 140 or less.

South Johnston’s Austin Raynor has passed for 1,876 yards and 21 touchdowns.

2A East

SouthWest Edgecombe (6-5) at Bunn (9-2)

SouthWest advanced by taking a 30-26 win at East Duplin. Bunn had an unusual start, picking up one win and one loss because of forfeits. The Wildcats had no trouble in a playoff-opening 36-0 win over North Brunswick.

Tarik Cohen leads Bunn with 1,360 yards rushing.

2AA Mideast

Randleman (9-3) at Carrboro (12-0)

Carrboro has scored 49 or more points in its last four games, including last week’s 68-31 win over Burlington Cummings. Randleman has allowed three touchdowns in its last three games.

Carrboro’s Alex McVeigh has thrown for 1,859 yards and teammate Trai Sharp has run for 1,801.

2A East

South Granville (9-3) at South Columbus (10-2)

Coach Mike Hobgood has built a winner at South Granville and the Vikings seem to be picking up steam. They shut out Siler City Jordan-Matthews last week 11-0 after blasting rival Granville Central 71-6 the week before. Among the losses were a 36-29 overtime decision to unbeaten Carrboro and a 21-20 setback early in the year to Chapel Hill.

South Columbus shared the Waccamax 3A/2A combination conference regular-season title with East Bladen and West Brunswick.

1A East

Princeton (3-8) at North Edgecombe (5-5)

North Edgecombe is a familiar sight to 1A state championship hopefuls in November in the eastern half of the state. The Warriors are a run-heavy, tough to stop squad.

North Edgecombe works to control the clock and win low-scoring games. The Warriors average 17.2 points a game and have scored more than 30 points just twice this season.

Princeton pulled out a huge win over Carolina 1A Conference rival North Duplin in the first round. The Bulldogs will need to limit their mistakes on offense, find success in the passing game and be stout on third down defensively to have their best chance to shock the 1A football world for the second week in a row.

NCISAA

N. Raleigh Christian (8-2)

at Arden Christ School (11-0)

The Knights are in the second round of the NCISAA Division II playoffs for the first time since at least 1999. North Raleigh Christian scored 21 points in the first quarter to cruise past Hickory Grove last week.

Arden Christ School comes into the game undefeated and riding the best single-season record in school history. Christ School pounded Wake Christian in the first round 75-6.

Word of God (10-1)

at Southampton (11-0)

The Rams are looking for their third straight NCISAA eight-man championship crown with the road trip to Courtland, Va.

Word of God’s 31-game winning streak was snapped this season by Southampton, which remains undefeated. The 40-34 loss was the Rams’ only defeat of the season. Casty St. Louis leads the Rams with 1,809 yards. Jason Fields has thrown for 923.

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