Southwest Wake 4A to end regular season with rivalries

mblake@newsobserver.comNovember 4, 2013 

Middle Creek's Thomas Hartshorn (38) moves in for a tackle against Wakefield earlier this season.


  • SWAC standings

    Rk. TeamOverallCon.
    1. Middle Creek 8-26-0
    2. Panther Creek 8-25-1
    3. Holly Springs5-54-2
    4. Fuquay-Varina6-43-3
    5. Athens Drive4-62-4
    6. Green Hope 5-52-4
    7. Cary3-71-5
    8. Apex 2-81-5

The season finales for the Southwest Wake 4A come down to four rivalries, which will make for bragging rights battles even if the games will have little effect on the season standings.

Middle Creek (8-2, 6-0) has claimed the conference’s No. 1 seed and its third straight conference title. The Mustangs, who have won 20 straight against league opponents, could be the No. 1 overall seed in the 4AA East bracket.

Panther Creek (8-2, 5-1) is slotted as the league’s No. 2 seed.

Holly Springs (5-5, 4-2) has secured the No. 3 and Fuquay-Varina (6-4, 3-3) is assured of finishing fourth and getting a wild-card spot.

For the most part, the year has played out as expected. The exception is Panther Creek’s bounce back from a 1-10 season.

Injuries have played a role this season, but teams have found replacements for the most part.

Green Hope quarterback Chris Tutwiler had a compound leg fracture before the year began. His replacement, Luke Massei, has thrown for a league-high 2,391 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Holly Springs running back Nehemiah Harris was set to return as the main weapon for the Golden Hawks. In his absence, sophomore Tray Staten has emerged with 1,290 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Middle Creek’s Curtis Burston, an East Carolina recruit, has played in just two games, but the Mustangs have hardly dipped in the passing game.

The league’s final week will feature arguably the conference’s top rivalry in Fuquay-Varina at Middle Creek. In seven of the past eight years, the winner of this game has won the league.

Green Hope will travel to Panther Creek, and it will be the first time these schools – separated by 2.3 miles – have met when both have .500 records or better. Green Hope (5-5, 2-4) is in a must-win scenario to assure a playoff spot.

Athens Drive and Cary (3-7, 1-5), separated by 4.7 miles, share a rivalry that has grown during the nine years spent as conference foes. The Jaguars (4-6, 2-4) need a win for a shot at the postseason.

There isn’t much animosity between Holly Springs and Apex (2-8, 1-5), but the two are linked in history. Holly Springs’ first varsity game came against Apex, and its first coach – the late Jim Hynus – was a longtime Apex assistant.

Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps

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