Southern Durham, the reigning N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3AA champion, and Wake Forest, the 4AA runner-up, lead the preseason Metro Raleigh high-school football rankings.
Southern Durham is led by quarterback Kendall Hinton, who was one of the most productive players in the state in 2013. New coach Darius Robinson was a member of the staff last year and a smooth transition is expected.
Wake Forest is a ball-possession team, although speedster Bryce Love gives the Cougars a quick strike potential. The defense is traditionally strong and will be anchored by junior Dexter Lawrence.
Durham Hillside, which won a state 4A title in 2010, returns most of its starting lineup and opens the season at No. 3.
Millbrook opens at No. 4 after losing to Wake Forest in the third round of the playoffs and Middle Creek, which lost to Wake Forest in the semifinals, is No. 5.
Garner expects to be much improved this season after a 10-4 season that ended in a playoff loss at Middle Creek. Runner Nyheim Hines had one of the most productive seasons in state history a year ago.
The Big Eight 3A Conference has four teams in the top 15: No. 1 Southern Durham, No. 7 Orange, No. 11 Pittsboro Northwood and No. 14 Cardinal Gibbons.
Cap Eight 4A also has four teams in the poll: No. 2 Wake Forest, No. 4 Millbrook, No. 10 Wakefield and No. 15 Leesville Road, which nipped Sanderson, East Wake and Clayton for the final spot.