After the high school football schedule was rearranged last week due to Hurricane Florence, most teams will return to their planned schedules Friday night.
Florence, which made landfall at Wilmington on Sept. 13 as a Category 1 storm, caused most area high school teams to move games up two days last week. Other teams postponed their match-ups, or canceled them altogether.
Week Six preview
Game of the Week: Cardinal Gibbons (3-1) @ Leesville (4-1), 7 p.m. The Pride will host the Crusaders in a battle of highly ranked, one-loss teams. Gibbons will look to bounce back after taking its first loss of the year to Cleveland, by a score of 44-35, on September 7. Leesville also lost its first game of the season two weeks ago, falling 31-18 to Wake Forest, the No. 4 overall team in the state, according to MaxPreps. However, the Pride responded with a 26-24 victory over Garner on Sept. 12. The Cardinal Gibbons-Leesville game has the makings of a shootout, with two of the state’s top passers — Leesville’s Vincent Amendola and Cardinal Gibbons’ Nick Frey going at it.
Players to watch
QB: Nick Frey, Cardinal Gibbons (Sr.) Frey led a furious fourth-quarter comeback in the Crusaders’ Sept. 7 loss to Cleveland. Down 34-14, Frey closed the game with three touchdown passes, including a 41-yard strike to cut the deficit to 41-35. But Gibbons came up just short in the team’s final drives. Frey, who is tied for fifth among North Carolina quarterbacks with 15 passing touchdowns, will look to rebound at Leesville on Friday.
QB: Vincent Amendola, Leesville (Sr.) The 6-2 senior is coming off a down week, failing to break 200 passing yards for the first time this season. Amendola, one of the nation’s top passers, has 1,532 passing yards, 13th best in the country. He’ll surely test the Crusaders pass defense, which gave up 379 yards to Cleveland quarterback Darius Ocean two weeks ago.
WR: Jacob Gill, Cardinal Gibbons (So.) The sophomore has emerged as one of quarterback Frey’s favorite targets this season. He’s found the endzone in all four of the Crusaders games, including a two-touchdown outing against Cleveland. Gill will likely see coverage from several Leesville cornerbacks in Friday’s matchup, as the Pride sends out a platoon at the position.
DL, DT, DE: Dylan Reeves (Sr.), Tylik Caine (Jr.) and Jeremiah Stubbs (Sr.), Leesville The pass-rushing trio of Reeves, Caine and Stubbs has combined to average four sacks per game this season. If they’re able to consistently get to Frey on Friday, it could make all the difference. Gibbons’ running game has been nonexistent of late, totaling just eight yards over the past two games.
DT: Jaden McKenzie, Wake Forest (Sr.) It’s easy to see why the 6-3, 280-pound McKenzie has received offers from Clemson, Duke and UNC. Through four games, he’s racked up 20 tackles and four sacks. He, along with the rest of Wake Forest’s impressive defense, will face a Franklinton offense that’s averaging 38.4 points per game over five blowout wins.
QB: William Matejowsky, Cary (Jr.) As Matejowsky goes, so have the Imps this season. In Cary’s three wins, the junior was excellent, tossing five total touchdowns while completing 62 percent of his passes. In the two losses? Not so much. Matejowsky threw all four of his interceptions and completed only 51 percent of pass attempts in losses to Fuquay-Varina and Broughton. He’ll need to step up Friday for the Imps to hang with Clayton.
SS: J.R. Walker, Clayton (Sr.) Walker — who’s received offers from N.C. State, UNC and Duke, among others — transferred to Clayton from Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City at the start of this season. He’s a four-star safety and also receives an occasional touch at running back. The Comets hope he’ll be a menace for Matejowsky, the Cary quarterback, and the rest of the Imps’ offensive attack.
QB: Dax Hardy, Knightdale (So.) Hardy is listed on the Knights’ depth chart as a quarterback, but so far this season, he’s made his strongest impact with his legs. Through four games, Hardy has run for six touchdowns, and passed for just two. He’s also logged more carries than pass attempts.
DE: Justin Rhodes, Northern (Jr.) - Rhodes has racked up two sacks per game this season. He’s also performed in the clutch for the Knights. Back in week one, Rhodes came up with a crucial pass deflection on fourth down to seal a 27-20 win for Northern. He’ll look to make life difficult for Southern, which relies heavily on sophomore quarterback Omari Smith to make plays.
Other top games
Wake Forest (4-0) @ Franklinton (5-0) - 7:30 p.m. In its quest for a third consecutive 4-AA state title, Wake Forest has looked every bit as dominant as in years past. The Cougars have had three straight double-digit wins over MaxPreps-ranked opponents, including a 21-point win over Richmond in Week 2.. The Cougars will attempt to push their win streak to 36 against unbeaten and untested Franklinton on Friday.
Clayton (3-1) @ Cary (3-2) - 7 p.m. Clayton could be Cary’s last true test before the postseason. As conference play starts up next week, the Imps appear to be the class of the Triangle 6, as its the only team in the conference with a winning record. Clayton is talented, but is still adjusting to an almost entirely new roster. The Comets replaced 33 seniors from last year’s 13-1 team. Still, they’ve only dropped one game: a Week 1 contest against Garner. The Comets do have senior leadership on offense in quarterback Andrew Cagle.
Knightdale (3-1) @ Fuquay-Varina (4-0) - 7 p.m. Led by sophomore quarterback Dax Hardy, Knightdale is off to a 3-1 start, highlighted by a 33-6 win against Broughton two weeks ago. Knightdale is up for a challenge on the road, though, facing undefeated Fuquay-Varina. The Bengals are in the midst of a four-game homestand. Both teams had last week off, so this matchup will be a test of two rested teams.
Northern Durham (4-0) @ Southern Durham (2-3) - 7 p.m. The tide has suddenly turned in this crosstown rivalry. Exactly one year ago this Friday, Northern beat Southern 49-28 in the Knights first victory over the Spartans in more than a decade. Northern is also off to a hot start this year, while Southern seems far from the juggernaut that reached multiple 3-AA state championships, including winning a state title in 2013, earlier this decade. The Spartans will have their own opportunity for revenge on their home field Friday night.
Other games of note
Athens Drive (0-4) @ West Johnston (1-3) - 7 p.m.
Panther Creek (1-3) @ Apex (0-4) - 7 p.m.
Green Hope (1-3) @ Apex Friendship (1-2) - 7 p.m.
Cary Christian (0-3) @ Grace Christian (0-1) - 7 p.m.
Sanderson (2-2) @ Enloe (4-0) - 7 p.m.
Rolesville (3-2) @ Garner Magnet (2-3) - 7 p.m.
Holly Springs (2-3) @ Heritage (4-1) - 7 p.m.
Wakefield (2-3) @ Middle Creek (2-2) - 7 p.m.
Millbrook (0-4) @ Southeast Raleigh (0-4) - 7 p.m.
Jordan (1-3) @ Southern Lee (2-2) - 7 p.m.
Harnett Central (1-4) @ Riverside (1-2) - 7 p.m.
Carrboro (3-0) @ East Wake (0-4) - 7 p.m.
Orange (0-3) @ East Chapel Hill (0-3) - 7 p.m.
Broughton and Hillside are off this week.