Now that the N.C. High School Athletic Association has four championship sites for football with the addition of Duke’s Wallace-Wade Stadium, no classification has to be split between two stadiums.
Last year, N.C. State hosted the 2AA, 4A and 4AA championships, but 2A was held at Wake Forest along with 3A and 3AA.
This year, the 1AA and 1A championships are at N.C. State, 2AA and 2A at North Carolina, 3AA and 3A at Duke, and 4AA and 4A at Wake Forest. The venues will rotate from year to year.
Teams enter this week’s second round of the playoffs just three wins away from reaching one of those title games.
ROUND 2 PREVIEW
Second-round showdown: It gets no better than two top-10 teams in the AP poll, Heritage (11-1) at Cardinal Gibbons (11-0), meeting in the 4A playoffs. Heritage’s only loss is to the state’s No. 1 team and is the 6-seed only because it was behind five teams that earned 1-seeds from its conference.
Underrated second-round game: The 4AA East is full of great games – Middle Creek (9-3) at Sanderson (8-3) and Pinecrest (8-4) at Garner (7-4) – but don’t lose track of Leesville Road (8-4) at Green Hope (9-2). Leesville lost to the Falcons 28-21 in the third week of the season. Green Hope has won six in a row, and Leesville has won five in a row.
So we meet again: Leesville and Green Hope isn’t the only second meeting between two nonconference teams. Wake Forest (11-0) and Millbrook (6-6) opened the season against each other, with Wake Forest winning 34-7. In 3AA, conference rivals Cleveland (8-4) and Clayton (12-0) will meet again just four weeks apart. Clayton won the first meeting 35-13, but the Rams have reason to be confident. Quarterback Darius Ocean left that game early with a high ankle sprain and just returned last week. Cleveland rolled Northern Durham 53-10 in his first start back.
The game within a game: There are a number of high-powered offenses taking on stalwart defenses on Friday. The defense of Lee County (12-0) has allowed just 3.1 points per game but faces one of the state’s best quarterbacks in Cape Fear’s Justice Galloway-Velasquez, who missed a few games but returned last week to lead the Colts (9-3) by Orange 44-6. After the third week of the season, the defense of Knightdale (7-5) has allowed only Wake Forest to top the 30-point mark. The Knights get South Central (9-2), which is averaging more than 50 points per game. D.H. Conley (11-1), which is averaging 54.4 points per game, goes to Eastern Guilford (10-2), a team that’s given up no more than 19 points in any game.
All times 7:30 p.m.
1-Wake Forest vs. 9-Millbrook
4-Sanderson vs. 5-Middle Creek
3-Garner vs. 6-Pinecrest
2-Green Hope vs. 7-Leesville Road
1-Scotland vs. 9-Seventy-First
4-South Central vs. 12-Knightdale
3-Cardinal Gibbons vs. 6-Heritage
2-Hoggard vs. 10-South View
1-Clayton vs. 8-Cleveland
4-Eastern Guilford vs. 5-D.H. Conley
3-Lee County vs. 11-Cape Fear
2-New Hanover vs. 10-Dudley
1-Western Alamance vs. 8-Fike
4-Terry Sanford vs. 5-Jacksonville
3-Southern Nash vs. 6-Eastern Alamance
2-Havelock vs. 7-E.E. Smith
1-East Duplin vs. 9-West Stokes
4-Randleman vs. 5-Nash Central
3-South Granville vs. 6-West Craven
2-North Davidson vs. 7-Ledford
1-Northeastern vs. 9-Clinton
4-Beddingfield vs. 5-Wallace-Rose Hill
3-Southwest Onslow vs. 6-SouthWest Edgecombe
2-East Bladen vs. 10-Greene Central
1-Tarboro vs. 8-Riverside (Williamston)
4-Granville Central vs. 5-West Montgomery
3-East Carteret vs. 6-Lakewood
2-Edenton Holmes vs. 7-Manteo
1-North Duplin vs. 8-Southside
4-Columbia vs. 5-Pamlico County
3-South Robeson vs. 6-Plymouth
2-Northampton County vs. 7-Southeast Halifax