The top four teams in The News & Observer high school football rankings play other ranked teams Friday night in conference games.
No. 1 Southern Durham plays at No. 7 Chapel Hill in the Big Eight 3A Conference. No. 2 Wake Forest is at No. 9 Millbrook in a Cap Eight 4A Conference showdown. No. 3 Middle Creek goes to No. 12 Green Hope in the Southwest Wake 4A Conference and No. 4 Garner is at No. 13 West Johnston in the Greater Neuse 4A Conference.
Southern Durham (5-0, 1-0) is ranked No. 1 in the N&O and No. 1 in the Associated Press 3A poll. The Spartans were the 2013 state 3AA champions and have notched notable wins over Durham Hillside and Scotland County.
The Spartans have won 11 straight Big Eight 3A games and are riding an 18-game winning streak overall. Southern’s defense allows only 8.2 points per game and has three shutouts. Quarterback Kendall Hinton has passed for 1,074 yards.
Chapel Hill (5-0, 1-0) counters with an offense that averages 44.8 points per game.
Wake Forest (5-0, 1-0) nipped Millbrook (4-1, 1-0) in four overtimes in a 2013 third round playoff game. Many of the standouts from that game are back for this year’s Cap Eight 4A regular-season matchup.
Wake Forest operates behind a big, strong offensive line and puts up 43.8 points per game. The Millbrook defense allows an average of only 11 points per game.
The Wake Forest defense stuffs teams, allowing 34 rushing yards per game and 12.8 points. Millbrook scores 30.4 behind the throwing of Reid Herring (149 yards per game) and the running of Marcus Marshall (142 yards per game).
Middle Creek (5-0, 1-0), which reached the 2013 4AA semifinals, has steamed through its season. Runner Elijah Perry averages 149 yards per game while quarterback Brant Grisel passes for 214.2. Luke Massei leads Green Hope (5-1, 2-0) with 226.8 yards passing. The Mustangs have won the last nine games in the series.
Garner (4-1, 1-0) enters on a four-game winning streak, having outscored its opponents by 131 points during that stretch. Nyheim Hines has rushed for 933 yards. The Wildcats (4-0, 1-0) have won two in a row and have the playmakers to match up with Garner.
The sixth-ranked Panthers (5-0, 1-0) can be forgiven if they take their foot off the gas a bit this Friday. After last week’s battle with Northwood, Northern Vance (1-4, 0-1) seems like a chance for Orange to coast. The Vikings snapped what had been the state’s longest losing streak (24 games) when they got past winless Southern Vance 28-12 on Sept. 12. The Vikings lost 69-0 last week to Southern Durham.
Last year, Fayetteville’s Douglas Byrd (0-6) was one of the toughest 3A teams in the state. This year’s club has been outscored 240 to 25. Lee County (6-0) has not allowed more than 12 points in a game this year.
Both of these Big Eight rivals lost tough games last week. Cedar Ridge (2-3, 0-1) stuck with Cardinal Gibbons for three quarters in a 39-7 loss, while Northwood (4-1, 0-1) lost to No. 6-ranked Orange 14-7.
The only slip this season by Heritage (4-1, 1-0) was a 34-29 loss to East Wake. The Huskies have allowed only 10 points in its three wins. Sanderson (1-4, 0-1) has struggled on offense, scoring less than 14 points in each of its losses.
Panther Creek (4-1, 1-0) dropped its opener to Wake Forest 23-6, but has been a dominant football team since. The Catamounts have allowed 30 points and have scored at least four touchdowns in the other four games. The Imps (0-5, 0-1) are scoring 8.8 points per game, while Panther Creek is allowing just 10.6.
Leesville (2-3, 0-1) has scored only three points in the last two weeks while Broughton (0-1, 1-4) has given up 60 points in a couple of games this season.
Fuquay-Varina (3-2, 1-0) is led by Damarus Williams’ 657 yards rushing and 10 TDs. Apex (3-2, 0-1) is led by running back Isaiah Totten’s 885 yards and 11 TDs.
The Crusdaers (4-1, 1-0) have never lost to the Warriors (2-3, 0-1) out of Oxford. The Crusaders are one point away from being unbeaten this year, while J.F. Webb is coming off a 49-0 loss to Chapel Hill.
Rolesville (0-5, 0-1), a first-year varsity program with no seniors, nearly stunned Southeast Raleigh last week in the Greater Neuse 4A opener. East Wake (3-2, 0-1) moved the ball effectively in a loss to Garner.
Athens Drive (1-5, 0-2) has three losses by a total of nine points. Holly Springs (3-2, 0-1) has moved tight end Wade Johnson to quarterback for the last two games due to injuries.
Carrboro (2-3) is coming off an open date, which was a valuable opportunity for Trai Sharp to recover from an ankle sprain. Carrboro can expect Randleman (4-1) wide receiver Juval Mollette, a North Carolina recruit, to get a lot of touches.
Either Knightdale (2-3, 0-1) or Clayton (3-2, 0-1) will fall to 0-2 in the Greater Neuse 4A.
Franklinton (5-0) has been impressive so far, averaging more than 40 points a game and holding opponents to under 20. Corinth Holders (3-2) comes back after a week off.
The Knights (1-4) won their first game of 2014 last week, 49-6 against Community Christian of Wilson, but now make the long trip to Kinston to face undefeated Arendell Parrott (5-0).
Melvin Briggs leads St. David’s with 144 players per game.
NRCA will try to rebound after a 69-0 loss to Charlotte Victory Christian.
Harnett Central (2-3, 1-0) wasn't considered to be a Greater Neuse River 4A Conference challenger until upsetting Clayton last week. Southeast (2-3, 1-0) returns home after month on the road.
Wake Christian (4-2) carries a three-game winning streak into its Big East Independent Football opener against Harrells Christian (4-1).
Wakefield (3-2, 1-0) topped Sanderson last week 36-13 in their Cap Eight 4A opener. Enloe (2-3, 0-1) has dropped three straight since opening the season with a pair of wins.
Ben Smith at Southern Vance
Bertie at Hertford
C.B. Aycock at Southern Wayne
Camden at Manteo
Cape Fear at Overhills
Carrboro at Randleman
Chatham Central at North Stanly
East Carteret at Southwest Edgcombe
Eastern Wayne at New Bern
Southampton (Va.) at St. David’s
Halifax Academy at Cary Christian
Havelock at Jacksonville
Hobbton at Spring Creek
J.H. Rose at South Central
Jack Britt at Pine Forest
Kinston at Washington
Lawrence Academy aat Hobgood Academy
New Hanover at Hoggard
North Duplin at Lakewood
North Pitt at Northside-Pinetown
Northeast Academy at Rocky Mount Academy
Pender at Midway
Perquimans at Gates
R.J. Reynolds at Parkland
Richlands at West Carteret
Rosewood at James Kenan
Scotland County at Goldsboro
South Brunswick at Laney
South Columbus at Red Springs
Southeast Guilford at Salisbury
Southern Durham at Chapel Hill, 7 p.m.
Southern Lee at Gray’s Creek
Southside at South Creek
St. Pauls at Whiteville
Topsail at Ashley
Trask at Union
Union Pines at Terry Sanford
Wallace-Rose Hill at West Bladen
Warren County at Louisburg
Westover at Hoke County
White Oak at Swansboro