The NCHSAA football playoffs begin Friday with six area teams in action, while Wake Christian is a step away from the NCISAA title game Friday night as well.
Here’s a quick primer on the opponents the locals are up against come Friday. …
4AA East — No. 13 Northwest Guilford (7-4) at No. 4 Garner (9-2): The Vikings enter the playoffs on a two-game losing streak. The most recent one to the top seed in the West bracket, 11-0 East Forsyth. The previous loss is a bit more puzzling, 21-20 to 5-6 Southwest Guilford, which cost Northwest a seeded spot in the playoffs.
Northwest is giving up just 18 points a game on defense.
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The winner meets a Southwestern Wake Athletic Conference team: either No. 12 Green Hope or No. 5 Fuquay-Varina.
4A East — No. 10 Cardinal Gibbons (7-4) at No. 7 West Johnston (6-5): The Crusaders, in their first year of 4A classification play, are coming off of a tough, seven-point loss to Northern Durham last week. Gibbons had won three straight before that loss. Its other losses are to Southern Durham, Durham Hillside and Green Hope.
Sophomore Dalen Spruill leads the team with 1,100-plus yards rushing.
The winner meets No. 15 Knightdale or No. 2 Wilmington New Hanover.
3AA East — No. 15 Cameron Union Pines (6-5) at No. 2 Cleveland (8-3): The Vikings finished the season with close wins over Southern Lee (17-14) and Fayetteville Westover (46-38). Quarterback Ben Bowbliss, a junior, leads Union Pines in rushing (859 yards, 9 TDs) and passing (1,312, 13 TDs).
You’d have to think the Vikings are going have to figure out how to put up more than their weekly average of 21.6 points to beat the Rams.
The victor gets No. 10 Jacksonville (7-3) or No. 7 Gray’s Creek (8-3).
3AA East — No. 13 Northern Guilford (7-4) at No. 4 Corinth Holders (9-2): The Nighthawks have had plenty of playoff success in recent years, but find themselves in a lower seeded slot coming off of a season-ending loss to 8-3 Eden Morehead. Northern’s other losses are to 9-2 Greensboro Page, 9-2 Western Alamance and 11-0 Eastern Alamance.
Caleb Freeman (1,210 yards rushing, 15 TDs) and Miles Timmons (1,119 yards passing, 11 TDs, 658 yards rushing, 3 TDs) lead the Nighthawk offense.
The winner gets No. 12 Triton (4-7) or No. 5 Asheboro (9-2).
3A East — No. 11 South Johnston (7-4) at No. 6 Eastern Wayne (4-6): The Warriors finished the season with wins over C.B. Aycock and Southern Wayne after losses to much of the 4A portion of the Eastern Carolina 3A/4A Conference: New Bern, Greenville Rose, Greenville Conley, etc.
There’s no singular standout on offense for Eastern: four rushers have triple-digits of yardage on the season.
The winner meets either No. 14 Burlington Williams (5-6) or No. 3 Rocky Mount (9-2).
1AA East — No. 9 Princeton (4-6) at No. 8 Camden County (8-3): The Bruins haven’t lost since September. Senior running back Marcus Joyner has run for 1,195 yards on the season and 15 touchdowns. Trevor Carr is a threat in all three phases: receiving, on kick returns and in the secondary.
The winner is likely to meet top-seeded Wallace-Rose Hill (10-1).
NCISAA Division III, Second Round: No. 6 Concord First Assembly (7-4) at No. 2 Wake Christian Academy (8-3): The Eagles pulled somewhat of an upset in the first round, downing Metrolina Christian Academy, 27-20, extending their win streak to four games, after a 3-4 start to the season. CFA has more than 4,000 yards of offense on the season. William Lloyd leads the team in rushing (729 yards) and Harper Woods (1,286 yards) leads them in passing.
The two teams do have a common opponent (North Raleigh Christian) and the results were pretty similar. First Assembly won by 35 and Wake Christian won by 28.
The winner meets either top-seeded High Point Christian (10-1) or Rabun Gap School (7-4) in the NCISAA State Championship Game on Nov. 20.