Friday’s football games
Garner at Middle Creek
The Mustangs lost this highly anticipated opener last year 21-16 but got revenge in the third round of the 4AA playoffs 24-21. Garner has the superb Nyheim Hines, but Middle Creek slowed him down more than anyone else. Garner linebacker Warren Messer played at Middle Creek in 2013.
Head-to-head: Garner leads 10-2 all-time.
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Cardinal Gibbons at Green Hope
Last year these teams ended the game on a missed field goal. Green Hope was, at the time, giving quarterback Luke Massei his first start while Gibbons started future SEC recruit Shawn Stankavage. Roles have reversed. Massei now has a year under his belt while Gibbons turns over the reins to someone new.
Head-to-head: Cardinal Gibbons won 14-12 in 2013.
Wake Forest at Panther Creek
In less than a year, the Catamounts will have played Wake Forest three times. Last year’s Aug. 23 opener was a 28-14 loss, and then Panther Creek lost at home to the eventual 4AA East champs in the first round of the playoffs.
Head-to-head: Wake Forest won 28-14 and 35-14 in 2013.
Heritage at Holly Springs
The debut of Wayne Bragg at Holly Springs comes against Heritage High out of Wake Forest. The previous two Golden Hawks head coaches won in their first varsity games for Holly Springs – David Riggs vs. Southeast Raleigh and Will Orbin against Heritage.
Head-to-head: Heritage leads 2-1 all-time.
Fuquay-Varina at Millbrook
No one knew just how good Millbrook was going to be last year. This year, the team is expected to be one of the best with Division I talent at quarterback, running back and all over the defense. Fuquay-Varina’s flexbone can give any defense a headache, however.
Head-to-head: Millbrook won 23-8 in 2013.
Cary at Broughton
The Imps and the Caps have been opening up the season against one another for more than a decade, and Cary has won the last four in a row. The offensive philosophies couldn’t be further apart. Cary runs the double-wing, while the Caps are pass-heavy.
Head-to-head: Cary leads 9-6 since 1999.
J.H. Rose at Athens Drive
Greenville’s J.H. Rose High was loaded last year but lost a lot of the defense that gave Athens Drive fits. The Jaguars will have to slow down wide receiver Cornell Powell, a junior drawing tons of recruiting interest from big-time programs.
Head-to-head: Rose won 34-7 in 2013.
Apex at Harnett Central
Apex clobbered Harnett Central last year, and the Trojans are under new management this season. The Cougars could replicate last year’s results if players have acclimated themselves to the new, power-run spread offense.
Head-to-head: Apex won 43-0 in 2013.
Chatham Central at Wake Christian (7:30 p.m.)
The Bulldogs handled the Bears easily last year, and Wake Christian returns a chunk of its roster. Wake Christian could get the season off to a good start in this one.
Head-to-head: Wake Christian won 34-12 in 2013.
All football game times are 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.