Why Leesville will win
Leesville Road has dominated opponents this year, but has also proven an ability to rise to the occasion in close contests.
If Fridays game turns into a back-and-forth scoring battle, it may come down to which team can make the big defensive play. Leesville Road pulled out a tight win last week to top Middle Creek, forcing five turnovers and staging a crucial fourth-quarter defensive stand.
Leesville Road will have to avoid turnovers, which Garner took advantage of in last years NCHSAA 4AA third-round meeting, and work to close the gaps on defense to prevent the Trojans from getting out into the open field.
Leesville was able to halt conference rivals Wake Forest-Rolesville and Wakefield this year, proving that the Pride are up for the challenge.
Caryn Grant is the sports editor of the North Raleigh News
Why Garner will win
Garner seemed ready to be tested for the first time this season in last weeks game with Wakefield. Garner rose to that challenge, notching a 76-34 victory.
The tendency this week will be to turn this contest into Garners Defense vs. Braxton Berrios II, but the Trojans know or theyll know after being drilled on it by their coaches all week there are plenty of very talented players throughout the Prides offense. Limiting big plays by Evan Parker, Kamir Bowen and Maurice Lauchner will be just as important to Garners chances as stopping Berrios.
The Trojans have found ways to do that all season against their opponents best players, and have scored points in every phase of the game.
Defensively, Garner has five turnover returns for touchdowns. On special teams, the Trojans have blocked three punts and scored six touchdowns (five on punt returns, one on a blocked punt return).
D. Clay Best is the sports editor of the Garner-Cleveland Record