If you don’t yet have a slogan for your football team because you were waiting for the N.C. High School Athletic Association to decide which championships are going to be played where, wait no more.
If your school has 2A, 4A or 4AA title hopes, you can now use “Ready for Raleigh.” N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium will host those titles.
If you’re 2AA, 3A or 3AA, you can go with “Winston-Salem or bust.” Wake Forest’s BB&T Stadium has your title games.
For 1A and 1AA, “The Road to Chapel Hill” applies. North Carolina’s Kenan Stadium will host.
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At least one of those title games will be played Friday, Dec. 9 while the others are Saturday, Dec. 10.
Biggest Friday yet
Counting this week, we have just four games left in the regular season, but only three conference races appear done. Wins last week by Wake Christian (over Ravenscroft in the Big East Independent) and Hillside (over Cardinal Gibbons in the PAC-6 4A) felt like championship games, and Orange all but wrapped up the Big 8 3A weeks ago.
The Southwest Wake 4A’s de facto title game over much of the last decade will take place Thursday as Fuquay-Varina visits Middle Creek for a live-televised game on Time Warner Cable.
The Cap-8 4A has probably biggest game the town of Wake Forest has ever seen as Wake Forest travels a few miles over to Heritage in a battle of unbeatens.
In 8-man football, Rocky Mount Academy hosts Southampton Academy (Va.) in a matchup of 7-0 teams and likely a 2A state title preview.
The Greater Neuse 4A, Two Rivers 3A, Big East 3A and Northern Carolina 2A are very much up-for-grabs with multiple teams still with realistic shots.
A record again?
The NCHSAA record for most combined points in a football game stood for 86 years, only matched once, before it was eclipsed twice in three weeks. Or for D.H. Conley, back-to-back games. On Sept. 23, the Vikings lost 77-67 to rival J.H. Rose. After a bye week, they beat C.B. Aycock 83-68.
The Starting 11: players of the week
(Times named to The Starting 11 this season in parentheses.)
Holton Ahlers, D.H. Conley (3): Completed 19 of 31 passes for 472 yards and six touchdowns, ran 13 times for 112 yards and three touchdowns.
Chris Branch, Rolesville (1): Ran 24 times for 239 yards and had three touchdowns.
Connor Collins, Wake Christian (1): The linebacker – yes, that’s right – had a punt return for touchdown and two touchdown catches to go with double-digit tackles.
Jamal Currie-Elliott, Hillside (1): Four touchdowns – one receiving, two rushing and the game-winning kickoff return – to go with 26 carries for 152 yards and one catch for 47 yards.
Jake Flowers, C.B. Aycock (1): Completed 26 of 38 passes for 433 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Duce Fuller, D.H. Conley (2): Caught six passes for 165 yards and three touchdowns.
Caleb Gough, C.B. Aycock (3): Ran 34 times for 254 yards and six touchdowns.
C.J. Johnson, D.H. Conley (1): Caught seven passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns.
Caiden Norman, Cleveland (4): Completed 25 of 34 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns.
Trent Pennix, Sanderson (1): Ran 26 times for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
Isaiah Thomas, Rocky Mount Academy (1): Completed 8 of 8 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns.
4-point stance: top defenses
Northern Nash: Limited Hunt to 110 yards of offense, all rushing, in a 6-3 win.
Orange: Shut out Northern Vance 14-0, holding the Vikings to 50 yards of total offense.
Southeast Raleigh: Shut out Knightdale 24-0, its second straight shutout. Held the Knights to 72 yards of total offense.
Wake Forest: Shut out Wakefield 45-0, its fourth straight shutout. Held the Wolverines to 203 yards.
▪ Hurricane Matthew hit Wayne County harder than most. The school system has canceled classes for the rest of the week, effectively shutting down the entire Eastern Carolina 4A/3A. All three 3A Wayne schools were playing 4A teams from Greenville, and New Bern has a bye.
▪ Jamal Currie-Elliott of Hillside has five touchdowns in just two games back after moving back from Florida’s IMG Academy. His kickoff return for touchdown with 0.4 seconds left to beat Cardinal Gibbons 41-35 will undoubtedly go down as one of the plays of the year.
Orange County rivalry: Orange will make a four-mile trip down N.C. 86 through the heart of Hillsborough to face crosstown rival Cedar Ridge on Friday. This game is king in the Triangle’s oldest town, established in 1754. Orange and Cedar Ridge are separate from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Cedar Ridge has the lower half of the Orange County Schools district while Orange takes the north.