The Southwest Wake Athletic Conference went 3-5 in its opening games on Friday, but the night was better than that mark.
Panther Creek has no shame in losing to Wake Forest, and the same goes for Cary at Garner. Holly Springs battled Wilmington’s Hoggard High to a 13-10 loss. Athens Drive lost on an extra point in overtime to Cardinal Gibbons.
Green Hope was hounded by mistakes in its 24-10 loss to Heritage.
Apex, Middle Creek and Fuquay-Varina were impressive in their wins.
Friendship wins JV opener
Apex Friendship, which has no varsity team this season drew a large crowd on Thursday for its inaugural game. The home stand was nearly full as the Patriots’ JV team defeated Panther Creek 34-12.
“It wasn’t necessarily surprised but I was impressed. We’ve always had a ton of community support,” said Friendship coach Adam Sanders. “It felt like a Friday night atmosphere.”
The Patriots were up 28-0, but Panther Creek scored twice to make it 28-12. Friendship responded with a long touchdown drive to seal the win.
“We’ve never told the guys that we’re a JV team,” Sanders said. “We do everything with the mindset that we want to get better every day.”
Cary’s defense strong
It’s not often that you can allow an opponent to put 44 points on the scoreboard and assess your defense to have been strong but that’s exactly what Cary coach Mike Kirst came away with after his team’s 44-13 loss at Garner in Week 1. Four of the Trojans’ scoring drives began in Cary territory and the Imps'’special teams couldn’t stop Garner’s Dalton Counts from returning a punt 63 yards for another score.
Those things aside, Cary’s defense showed that it can slow teams down and keep the Imps in some games this season. J.T. Berkowitz, Jeff Gavalier, Shawn Strickland and Daniel Thompson all made big plays all night and, at times, stymied the vaunted Garner rushing attack.
They just need a little help.
“We made a couple mistakes on special teams and we made a couple mistakes offensively to put our defense in bad spots,” Kirst said. “We can’t make mistakes like that especially against a good team like Garner but (also) against any team.”
Corrections to those areas could lead to improved numbers in other areas as the season progresses – including victories.
Fuquay uses bevy of runners
After graduating 1,600-yard rusher Damarus Williams last year, the big question for the Fuquay-Varina Bengals entering the 2015 season was who was going to fill those shoes?
The answer: everyone.
Seven Bengals, including quarterback Brycen Braswell, combined for 368 yards on the ground as Fuquay-Varina put away visiting Harnett Central 41-12 Friday.
Michael Roberson (107 yards rushing), Isaac Morgan (77), Josh Arrington (58), Braswell (57) and Colten Smith (50) all took turns toting the rock for Fuquay-Varina, which also got a pair of defensive touchdowns from Trey Thorton and Cammron Milligan.
Player of the week
Daniel Jackson, Middle Creek: Three interceptions for the safety, one returned for touchdown.
Friday Night Heroes
Ian Boyd, Apex: Four catches for 111 yards and three touchdowns.
James Russo, Cardinal Gibbons: Caught five passes for 119 yards and had the game-winning extra point kick.
Diamante Taylor, Panther Creek: Caught three passes for 145 yards and one touchdown.
Play of the week
Cardinal Gibbons blocked Athens Drive’s extra point in overtime to set up its game-winning TD and PAT to win 28-27.
▪ First-year head coaches in the SWAC went 2-2 in their varsity openers. Apex (Robert Graham) and Middle Creek (Randy Ragland) won while Cary (Mike Kirst) and Holly Springs (Robert Furth) lost
▪ Athens Drive may have the largest fullback in the state. Senior Nate Gatling, a 6-foot-4, 330-pound senior, had four carries for 11 yards and a touchdown in a loss to Cardinal Gibbons. Gatling, the younger brother of WNBA player Markeisha Gatling, had a 58-yard fumble return for touchdown last season.
They Said It
Apex quarterback Grayson Boyd on throwing 3 TDs to Ian Boyd: “The Boyd-to-Boyd express! ... It’s good to know we’ve started for three years together and have pretty good chemistry together, I always know where he’s at, and he always knows where I’m at.”
Athens Drive coach Chris Martin on miscues: “It’s just a matter of trying to find out what we are ... We’ve got to have a little more urgency and understand it’s football and you have to hustle. They haven’t quite grasped that concept.”
The big 3 to watch
Wake Forest (1-0) at Apex (1-0), 7 p.m.: You can guarantee a “Cougars” win. Apex showed some playmaking ability and improved defense against Broughton, but this is a huge jump. Wake Forest has won the 4AA East three times in five seasons.
Cardinal Gibbons (1-0) at Southern Durham (0-1), 7 p.m.: Formerly Big 8 Conference foes, Gibbons pays a visit to one of the most talented 3A teams in the state. Southern is coming off a shocking 22-21 loss to Fayetteville’s E.E. Smith.
Panther Creek (0-1) at Leesville Road (1-0), 7 p.m.: Leesville romped over Jordan, but more importantly allowed just 82 yards of offense. Panther Creek
Friday’s other games: Rocky Mount (1-0) at Middle Creek (1-0); Green Hope (0-1) at Jordan (0-1); Wakefield (0-1) at Holly Springs (0-1) 7 p.m.; Broughton at Cary (0-1), 7 p.m.; George Washington, Va. (0-0) at Athens Drive (0-1), 7 p.m.; Trinity Christian Fayetteville (0-0) at Wake Christian (1-0), 7:30 p.m.; Cary Christian (0-0) at Community Christian (1-0), 7 p.m.
Michael Held, Christian Worstell and Justin Hill contributed.