The last three weeks the No. 1 team in The News & Observer high school football poll has lost. Can Wake Forest break the streak when it plays at Broughton on Friday?
Garner, which was No. 1 from the preseason through the second week, fell to Cleveland 45-44. Durham Hillside moved to the top the next week and lost to Greensboro Dudley 24-7. Leesville Road was tops last week, but fell to Panther Creek 34-21.
Now its Wake Forest’s turn. But don’t expect an upset.
The 4-0 Cougars play at Broughton (0-4) in the Cap Eight 4A Conference opener for both teams. Wake Forest is led by running back Bryce Love, who averages 154 yards per game and a whopping 14.7 yards per carry.
The Cougars score 28.3 points and allow 16.2 points per game.
Broughton played Cary (24-30), Athens Drive (21-22) and Cardinal Gibbons (28-35) close, but Wake Forest is a lot like Garner, which pounded the Caps 58-20.
The Caps’ Patrick Kearney is among the area leaders in passing with 284 yards per game.
No. 2 Garner (3-1) at East Wake (1-3), 7
Garner’s offense added some new wrinkles in its win over Enloe last week. The Trojans seem to find a new way to use Nyheim Hines (222.2 rushing yards per game) each week. East Wake has lost to the Cap Eight’s Wake Forest, Millbrook and Heritage the last three weeks, but is averaging 422 total yards. Garner’s defense is suspect so there could be plenty of points.
No. 3 Orange (4-0) at No. 10 Northwood (4-0), 7:30
The Big Eight 3A Conference title may be decided in this game between undefeated teams. Orange has allowed only 15 points this season while Northwood is putting up 39.5 per game. Northwood quarterback Ti Pinnix leads the area with 312 passing yards per game.
No. 4 Leesville Road (3-1) at Heritage (3-1)
Leesville Road dropped its first regular-season game in three years last week when it lost to Panther Creek in a non-conference game. Quarterback Braxton Berrios, the Pride leader, went down with a sprained ankle. Heritage enters the Cap 8 opener on a two-game winning streak.
Sanderson (2-2) at No. 5 Wakefield (4-0)
Wakefield was an impressive 34-24 winner against Middle Creek last week. Quarterback Evan Brabrand averages 280 yards passing. Sanderson dropped its first two games this season by 12 total points.
No. 6 Triton (5-0) at Rocky Mount (3-1)
Triton seems to make a habit of falling behind and rallying for victories. Rocky Mount nipped SouthWest Edgecombe 24-22 last week.
No. 7 Middle Creek (2-2) at Apex (1-3)
Middle Creek’s defense is exceptional against the run, but was burned last week by 445 passing yards by Wakefield’s Evan Brabrand in a 34-24 loss. Apex dropped its last two games by nine total points.
Athens Drive (3-2) at No. 8 Panther Creek (3-1)
Athens Drive ripped ranked Green Hope 41-29 a week ago. Panther Creek (3-1) dropped its opener to Wake Forest 28-14, but has been impressive since.
No. 9 Knightdale (3-1) at West Johnston (2-3), 7
West Johnston’s three-game losing streak includes narrow losses to Cleveland and Fuquay-Varina followed by Friday night’s 27-13 loss at Hope Mills South View. Knightdale’s explosive offense and West Johnston’s stingy defense should be a good matchup.
No. 11 Durham Hillside (2-2) at Northern Nash (3-2)
Hillside lost to Charlotte Country Day 25-21 a week ago and hopes to rebound against Northern Nash, which beat Warren County and Southern Vance in its last two games.
Cary (2-2) at No. 12 Green Hope (3-2)
Cary has lost the last two weeks to No. 1 Wake Forest and No. 2 Garner. The Imps are rushing for 286 yards per game. Green Hope quarterback Luke Massei is throwing for 259.2 yards per game and has 18 TD passes.
No. 13 Southern Durham (2-2) at Northern Vance (0-4)
Southern Durham plans a tough non-conference schedule and has losses against Durham Hillside and Scotland County, but is expected to get a quick start in the Big Eight 3A.
Enloe (0-4) at No. 14 Millbrook (3-1)
Millbrook’s defense has been the strength of its club. Enloe has had trouble scoring.
No. 15 Fuquay-Varina (3-1) at Holly Springs (1-3).
Fuquay-Varina has been impressive in the last two weeks with win over West Johnston and Clayton. Damarus Williams averages 158.5 yards rushing. Holly Springs had its best offensive game of the season last week in a 43-12 win over Durham Jordan.
Cedar Ridge (0-4) at Cardinal Gibbons (3-1), 7
Gibbons opens Big Eight 3A play against air-oriented Cedar Ridge, which has scored at least three touchdowns in every game.
Durham Riverside (3-2) at Cleveland (3-2), 7:30
Riverside has had four games decided by a touchdown or less, winning three including two in overtime. Cleveland is even up on the scoreboard this season, allowing 169 points and scoring 169 of its own.
Granville Central (3-2) at Franklinton (4-0), 7:30
Granville Central has scored 56 points or more in three games this season, including an 80-0 win over Durham Kestral Heights last week. Franklinton has topped 50 three times, too.
Harnett Central (1-3) at Clayton (4-1), 7
Clayton was handed its first big dose of adversity last week in the loss to Fuquay-Varina, but should be able to score in the Greater Neuse 4A Conference opener against Harnett Central, which has given up 94 points in its last two games.
Ravenscroft (2-3) at Charlotte County Day (3-1)
Charlotte Country Day’s 25-21 win over 4A state-ranked Hillside last weekend was a stunner. The Ravens beat Pine Lake Prep 57-8 last week.
Smithfield-Selma (0-5) at Northern Nash (2-3), 7:30
Northern Nash has bounced back after a tough start to the season, winning its last two games with solid defensive efforts (just 21 points allowed combined). SSS lost to undefeated Wilson Fike, 38-0, last week
Princeton (3-2) at Warsaw Kenan (4-0), 7:30
Carolina 1A Conference play starts with a big one. It’s a state 1A regional finalist last year in Princeton against Kenan, the state’s top-ranked 1A team. The game features Kenan senior runner Marcelias Sutton, who has committed to N.C. State, and Princeton junior Johnny Frasier, who has an offer from UNC.
Kestrel Heights Charter (0-5) at Wake Christian (2-3), 7:30
Wake Christian eyes a winning streak this week after grabbing a 42-26 win over Hobbton last week. Kestrel Heights, a Durham school, had its toughest defensive outing of a tough season last week in an 80-0 loss to Granville Central. WCA’s offensive output has improved in each of the past four contests.