Each week, The News & Observer high school sports writers D. Clay Best and J. Mike Blake will be sharing their AP football ballots online with a few thoughts on each.
Best is the sports editor for three community newspapers owned by The N&O – the Garner-Cleveland Record, the Clayton News-Star and The (Smithfield) Herald. Blake is the sports editor of two – The Cary News and Southwest Wake News.
Clay’s thoughts: I have Wake Forest higher than most, but I think it’s deserved. The Cougars — who thrive on their running game and on defense — may be better a team on both of those fronts (namely a healthy Bryce Love) — than the one that went to the state 4AA championship a season ago. Defending champs with much of their team intact get the benefit of the doubt here, hence my vote for Southern Durham as No. 1 in the 3A ranks. Princeton very may be one of the top five 1A teams, but I can’t quite put the Bulldogs there yet. Princeton will get its chance to prove itself soon enough. Kenan visits Sept. Sept. 26.
JMB’s thoughts: Millbrook slid out of my No. 10 spot and in goes a dominant J.H. Rose team. Havelock is a hard team to rank now that one of its best players may no longer be on the team and it lost to a really good 4A New Bern squad. If I had one gripe with last week’s AP poll it was voters putting Southern Durham behind Crest. Southern beat Crest in last year’s 3AA title and only graduated a handful of players. Even with Lee County moving to 3-0 with a close win, I put in Weddington and took the Yellow Jackets out. The 2A poll is the most difficult. I tried to not penalize North Rowan and Shelby too much for losing close games to really good 3A teams.
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|2. Mallard Creek||Mallard Creek||Mallard Creek|
|3. Scotland County||Dudley||Scotland County|
|4. Dudley||Scotland||Wake Forest|
|5. New Bern||New Bern||Dudley|
|7. Mooresville||Wake Forest||Charlotte Catholic|
|8. West Forsyth||Independence||New Bern|
|9. Middle Creek||West Forsyth||Mooresville|
|10. Wake Forest||J.H. Rose||Middle Creek|
|1. Crest||Southern Durham||Southern Durham|
|2. Southern Durham||Crest||Crest|
|3. Northern Guilford||Havelock||Northern Guilford|
|4. Havelock||Northern Guilford||Havelock|
|5. Concord||Concord||Southern Guilford|
|1. Southwest Onslow||East Lincoln||Shelby|
|2. Monroe||Monroe||Southwest Onslow|
|3. Reidsville||Southwest Onslow||North Rowan|
|5. East Lincoln||Shelby||Reidsville|
|6. Northeastern||North Rowan||Northeastern|
|7. North Rowan||Northeastern||East Lincoln|
|8. Farmville Central||Franklin||Washington|
|9. Newton-Conover||Newton-Conover||Farmville Central|
|10. East Bladen||Maiden||Owen|
|1. Wallace-Rose Hill||Wallace-Rose Hill||Wallace-Rose Hill|
|2. Swain County||Swain County||Swain County|
|3. Princeton||Mt. Airy||Murphy|
|4. Murphy||James Kenan||James Kenan|
|5. James Kenan||Murphy||Mt. Airy|
|6. Mt. Airy||Princeton||Princeton|
|8. West Montgomery||West Montgomery||Tarboro|
|9. Tarboro||Pamlico County||Plymouth|
|10. Whiteville||Plymouth||Pamlico County|