Tonight in football: Smithfield-Selma faces tough Middle Creek defense

tstevens@newsobserver.comSeptember 5, 2013 

Smithfield-Selma's De'Quan White (28) splits West Johnston's Kasual Cantey (11) and Deandre Gunter (21).


No. 3 Middle Creek (1-1) at Smithfield-Selma (0-2)

Top-ranked Durham Hillside and No. 2 Leesville Road are off Friday so Middle Creek is the highest-ranked team in action. And it isn’t expected to be pretty. Middle Creek overwhelmed Fayetteville E.E. Smith 56-14 last week while Smithfield-Selma has dropped 32 straight games.

Middle Creek has been one of the area’s most impressive teams in the first two weeks. The Mustangs’ effort was canceled out by turnovers and penalties in a 21-16 loss to Garner in the opener, but the defense was outstanding in both games.

The Mustangs held Garner to 100 yards on 39 rushes and allowed Smith only 3 yards on 20 attempts. The defenders are allowing 51.5 rushing yards per game and 1.7 yards per rush.

No. 14 Cary (2-0) at No. 4 Wake Forest (2-0)

Cary has been surprisingly good so far, knocking off Broughton 30-24 and Cardinal Gibbons 47-26. The Imps’ run defense has been a key. Cary is allowing only 53.5 rushing yards per game.

The Wake Forest offense has the potential for big plays, especially speedy Bryce Love. And the Cougars’ defense is typically stingy, allowing 14 points per game.

No. 5 Knightdale (2-0) at Heritage (1-1)

Heritage, which is expected to contend for the Cap Eight 4A title, was stunned last week in a 44-0 loss to Panther Creek and faces a tough assignment against undefeated Knightdale. The Knights have a reputation for their offense, but the key to their wins over Sanderson and Millbrook was defense.

No. 6 Orange (2-0) at Durham Riverside (1-1)

Orange coach Pat Moser was concerned about the Panthers’ early-season schedule, but his club dominated a couple of 4A clubs, Person 40-0 and Northern Durham 42-15, in the first two weeks. Riverside beat Chapel Hill in its opener 17-14 and lost to Fuquay-Varina 22-20 last week. The Pirates look like Orange’s toughest test so far.

Broughton (0-2) at No. 7 Garner (1-1)

Garner coach Thurman Leach probably is glad that the site of the non-conference game against Broughton was switched to Garner. The Trojans were hammered in the second half of a 45-44 road loss to Cleveland. The Trojans gave up what is believed to be a school-record 581 yards in the loss. Broughton lost to Cary 30-24 and to Athens Drive 22-21 in its first two games despite quarterback Patrick Kearney throwing for 301 yards per game.

No. 8 Southern Durham (0-1) at South Brunswick (0-2)

Southern usually schedules an early-season long road trip, something coach Adrian Jones believes builds team unity. The Spartans hit the road Friday night. Southern played well in its 29-24 loss to Durham Hillside. South Brunswick has been outscored 71-0 in its first two games.

No. 9 Clayton (2-0) at South Johnston (0-2)

Clayton stays in Johnston County for a third straight week. The Comets looked like a great team in its opening 53-29 win against Cleveland, but struggled in a 16-14 win over Corinth Holders last week. South was shut out last week by West Johnston, 24-0.

No. 10 Carrboro (2-0) at Chapel Hill (0-2)

Chapel Hill may have its hands full against Carrboro runner Trai Sharp, who averages 180 yards rushing.

No. 11 Cleveland (1-1) at West Johnston (2-0)

Cleveland rushed for more than 400 yards in a 45-44 comeback victory against Garner last week, led by Isaac Martin (185 yards per game). West Johnston has allowed only one touchdown in wins against Smithfield-Selma and South Johnston.

No. 12 Erwin Triton (2-0) at Harnett Central (1-1)

Central defeated rival Western Harnett 16-3 last week while Triton has powered past Fayetteville Cape Fear and Overhills.

No. 13 Green Hope (1-1) at Durham Jordan (1-1)

While these two schools have a storied soccer rivalry, Green Hope is 0-6 all-time against Jordan in football. The teams have not played since 2010.

Athens Drive (1-1) at No. 15 Lee County (2-0)

For the first time in nine years, Athens Drive and Lee County will meet as non-conference opponents. Athens had a 5-3 advantage while both teams were in the Tri-9. Athens topped Broughton 22-21 last week. Lee has allowed two touchdowns in two wins.

Other games

Apex (1-1) at Sanderson (0-2)

Apex needs a rebound game after last week’s 40-6 loss at Leesville Road. Sanderson has improved under former Cary coach Ben Kolstad, so this figures to be a close one.

East Wake (1-1) at Millbrook (1-1)

East Wake couldn’t handle Wake Forest last week, losing 45-14. Millbrook has played well defensively in its first two games, but hopes to pick up the offense.

Enloe (0-1) at Southeast Raleigh (0-2)

Southeast played one of South Carolina’s top teams last week, losing to Dutch Fork 41-6. The Bulldogs are home against rival Enloe, which lost 21-20 to Durham Jordan.

Northern Durham (0-2) at Wakefield (1-0)

Northern has been outscored 88-15 in its opening losses. Wakefield was an impressive 40-28 winner against Holly Springs last week as Evan Brabrand passed for 286 yards.

Ravenscroft (1-1) at Cardinal Gibbons (1-1)

The Crusaders have beaten their old rivals 49-17, 49-13, 29-15 and 21-13 the past four years. This year’s game looks like it should be much closer.

Stevens: 919-829-8910

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