Top-ranked Wake Forest, No. 2 Knightdale and No. 4 Millbrook are expected to be pushed in league showdowns Friday night as each plays another team from The News & Observer high school football rankings.
Wake Forest is in a four-way tie for the Cap Eight 4A lead with Leesville Road, Millbrook and Wakefield. Wake Forest faces No. 10 Leesville Road on Friday while Millbrook goes against No. 15 Heritage. Wakefield plays at Broughton.
No. 2 Knightdale is at home against No. 11 Garner in a key Greater Neuse 4A game.
No. 1 Wake Forest at No. 10 Leesville Road, 7
It seems like there is a huge Cap 8 4A game every week and leading the way Friday is a showdown that may feature two of the areas most exciting players. Wake Forest junior Bryce Love (159.5 ypg) is the epitome of explosiveness and has led the Cougars to a 7-1 overall and 3-1 league record. Leesville Road quarterback Braxton Berrios, a Miami recruit, may return to the lineup after missing four games with a foot injury. Leesville is 6-2 overall and 3-1 in the league.
No. 11 Garner at No. 2 Knightdale, 7
Each team has plenty of speed so dont be surprised by big scoring plays from Marquavious Johnson, Nathaniel Harvey and Marcell Johnson (22 combined rushing TDs). All three hail from Knightdale (7-1, 4-0). Garner (7-2, 3-1) counters with Nyheim Hines (28 rushing TDs) and Raekwon Britton (7 TDs).
No. 3 Orange at Oxford Webb, 7
Orange (8-0, 4-0) is looking get back into gear after last weeks last-second 6-0 win at Chapel Hill. Webb (2-5, 0-4) seeks a huge upset.
No. 4 Millbrook at No. 15 Heritage, 7
Millbrook (6-2, 3-1) lost to top-ranked Wake Forest and No. 2 Knightdale by a total of 13 points. Defense carried the Wildcats early, but the offense has come around in the past five games behind sophomore quarterback Reid Herring (1,215 passing yards) and the running of Marcus Marshall. Heritage (5-3, 22) has dropped two of its last three.
Athens Drive at No. 5 Middle Creek, 7:30
Middle Creek (6-2, 4-0) is in the drivers seat in the Southwest Wake. QB Brant Grisel has passed for 1,728 yards and 16 touchdowns. Athens (4-4, 2-2) ended a two-game slide with a win against Apex last week.
Northern at No. 6 Hillside, 7
Each team is 2-0 in the PAC-Six 4A, but Northern is 2-6 overall and Hillside is 5-2. Hillside has won 25 straight conference games. Northern rolled up 408 yards of total offense against East Chapel Hill last week.
Cedar Ridge at No. 7 Southern Durham, 7
Southern (6-2, 4-0 in Big Eight 3A) has smoked five straight opponents. The Spartans have scored more than 40 points in five of their six wins, thanks in large part to the connection between quarterback Kendall Hinton and wideout Maurice Trowell. Cedar Ridge is 1-7, 1-3.
Apex at No. 8 Panther Creek, 7:30
Panther Creek (6-2, 3-1) is still in the chase for the Southwest Wake title. Apex (2-6, 1-3) has dropped two straight.
No. 9 Wakefield at Broughton, 7
Wakefield (7-1, 3-1) has to bounce back from a 40-19 shellacking by Millbrook last week. Broughton (0-8, 0-4) has relied on passing in each game.
Chapel Hill at No. 12 Cardinal Gibbons, 7
Chapel Hill (3-5, 2-2 in Big Eight 3A) has never beaten Cardinal Gibbons (6-2, 3-1) in a conference game and the Crusaders are averaging 43 points in conference games. The Tigers held Orange, which was averaging 44 points, to just 6 points last week.
No. 13 Northwood at Northern Vance, 7
Northern Vance (0-7, 0-4 in the Big Eight 3A) averages 14 points a game and allows 45. Northwood (6-2, 2-2) averages about 45 points.
No. 14 Lee at Fayetteville Sanford, 7:30
Lee (6-2, 2-1 in the Cape Fear 3A) shares second place in the conference with Terry Sanford (2-6, 2-1). Fayetteville Byrd, which beat Lee last week 35-21, is the league leader.
Bunn at South Granville, 7:30
Bunn (5-3, 2-0) could take a huge step toward an N.C. 2A title with a win at South Granville (6-2, 1-1).
Carrboro at Siler City Jordan-Matthews , 7
For years, the Jets (2-6, 0-2) had a red-hot offense that created upsets, but they have scored 22 points in their last two games. Carrboro (4-4, 1-1) has lost four of its last five.
Cary at Fuquay-Varina, 7:30
Cary (3-5, 1-3) and Fuquay (4-4, 1-3) both rely on defense and a power running game.
Charlotte Christian at Ravenscroft, 7
Charlotte Christian (8-0) rides a 15-game winning streak into a game against Ravenscroft (5-4).
Cleveland at Corinth Holders, 7:30
Cleveland (5-3, 2-0) or Corinth Holders (6-2, 1-1) can win the Two Rivers 3A title by winning the rest of its games.
East Chapel Hill at Roxboro Person, 7
East Chapel Hill (1-7, 0-2) faces a big challenge at Person (3-5, 1-1).
East Wake at Clayton, 7
Damontay Rhem (847 yards rushing, 9 TDs) and Trent Evans (1,485 yards passing, 573 rushing) lead a solid Warrior offense. Claytons Eric Hoy (586 yards rushing, 346 yards receiving, 9 total offensive TDs) leads a balanced offense that also features runners Jace Brown and Rodney Rowe.
Enloe at Sanderson, 7
Sanderson (4-4, 2-2) has played well in the talent-laden Cap Eight. Enloe (0-8, 0-4) has struggled.
Holly Springs at Green Hope, 7:30
Holly Spring (4-4, 3-1) is in contention in the Southwest Wake. Green Hope (4-4, 1-3) has dropped three of its last four.
Jordan at Riverside, 7
Riverside (5-3, 1-1) is trying to stay ahead in the hunt for a playoff spot. Jordan (1-7, 0-2) has played well on defense at times.
North Duplin at Princeton, 7:30
Princeton has found its scoring touch the past two weeks with a pair of 50-plus point outings.
North Johnston at North Pitt, 7:30
North Johnston (0-8, 0-2) chases its first win at North Pitt (5-3, 0-2).
Smithfield-Selma at Triton, 7:30
The Spartans make their second straight trip to Harnett County, this time to face the run-heavy Hawks.
Wake Christian at North Raleigh Christian, 7:30
Quarterback Richard Landis (1,469 yards passing) leads NRCA. Beau Bargers 38-yard TD pass to Kyle Patterson was the difference last week in a 34-28 Wake Christian win against Fayetteville Christian.
West Johnston at Southeast Raleigh, 7
Southeast (4-3, 2-1) is still in the Greater Neuse conference race. West Johnston (2-5, 0-3) wants a strong finish.
Western Harnett at South Johnston, 7:30
Despite their overall records, South Johnston (2-6, 1-1) and Western (3-5, 1-1) are in the Two Rivers 3A title hunt.