High Schools

Four great games by area high school teams continue remarkable season

tstevens@newsobserver.comNovember 29, 2013 

Middle Creek or Wake Forest will play for the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA football championship Dec. 14 at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium.

The two teams play at Middle Creek in the Eastern region championship next week with a state championship berth on the line.

A few years ago, the possibility of these two Wake County football teams meeting in the state semifinals seemed as as unlikely as seeing decorated Christmas trees before Halloween.

Times change and what seemed improbable years ago isn’t very startling now.

But these two teams didn’t look like championship game material at various times. That is one of the reasons that this high school season has been one of the most enjoyable I can remember.

The feeling for much of the season was that there were about eight to 10 teams among the area’s elite. The balance was exemplified by the almost continual rotation on top of The News & Observer rankings.

There will be a new No. 1 next week after Knightdale’s 24-17 loss to Scotland in the third round of the 4A playoffs.

Middle Creek or Wake Forest is the heir apparent.

Middle Creek (12-2) has the stronger credentials even though at one point this season it was 2-2 after losing to Wakefield 34-24 on Sept. 20. The game was the Mustangs’ defensive nadir. No other team has scored more than 21 points against them since.

Middle Creek shut down Garner, which was averaging almost 50 points, in a 24-21 victory Friday.

The Mustangs struggled the week after losing to Wakefield loss to take a 21-7 win over an Apex club that finished 2-9, but for the rest of the season, defense and special teams carried the Mustangs.

The key to the season probably came on Oct. 11 when the Mustangs edged Panther Creek, 23-21. Michael Rubino kicked a 31-yard field goal with 1.8 seconds left for the win.

Wake Forest (11-3) has been strong all season, but did show weaknesses at times.

The Cougars dropped three Cap Eight games by a total of 12 points. The losses to Wakefield, Leesville Road and Sanderson came during a stretch when the Cougars lost three of four games. They seemed capable of beating most teams, but incapable of making the one play that would determine the outcome of a close game.

But the Cougars repeatedly made big plays in stopping Millbrook 27-24 in four overtimes on Friday night.

Friday night’s games – Southern Durham defeated Orange 31-24 in 3AA – were worthy of what has been an incredible season.

Stevens: 919-829-8910

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