Thursday night clash in Wake Forest headlines Week Seven high school football action

Southern Nash’s Zonovan Knight, right, runs for extra yards against Green Hope last season. Knight and the undefeated Firebirds will take on undefeated Wake Forest Thursday night.
Southern Nash’s Zonovan Knight, right, runs for extra yards against Green Hope last season. Knight and the undefeated Firebirds will take on undefeated Wake Forest Thursday night.

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Game of the Week

Southern Nash (4-0) at Wake Forest (5-0) - Thursday, 7 p.m. - For the second consecutive week, an unbeaten team will get its shot at snapping Wake Forest’s 36-game high school football winning streak. Southern Nash is hoping its fate differs Franklinton’s last Friday. The visiting Cougars dominated the Rams 42-7, mounting a 35-0 lead before the first half was over. There’s reason to believe that the Firebirds could make the defending 4AA champs sweat, though. The average margin of victory in Southern Nash’s four wins was 37.5 points.

Players to watch this week

QB: Seth Hillman, Wake Forest (Sr.) -- Reggie Lucas’s run-heavy offensive system doesn’t lend itself to many pass attempts. Nonetheless, Hillman has picked his spots nicely so far this season. Of his 26 completions, six have gone for touchdowns. He’s also found a go-to deep threat in senior wideout Trae Kenion. Through five games, the duo has connected for four touchdowns of 35 yards or more.

WR: Trae Kenion, Wake Forest (Sr.) -- Though Kenion -- who’s officially listed at 6-4, 220 pounds -- committed to South Carolina in April as a tight end, he’s continued to line up at wide receiver for the Cougars this season. So far, opposing secondaries haven’t had any answers for his size and athleticism. Kenion has hauled in seven touchdowns; two of them coming in last Friday’s rout of Franklinton.

DB: Darius Edmundson, Southern Nash (Sr.) -- Edmundson, a speedy defensive back, has recorded an interception in each of the Firebirds’ last three games. He’ll need to keep up this type of coverage Thursday night for Southern Nash to slow down Trae Kenion.

RBs: Quinton Cooley (Jr.) and Zonovan Knight (Sr.), Southern Nash -- Knight, an N.C. State commit, established himself as one of the nation’s top running backs last year, rushing for 1,187 yards and 27 touchdowns. But the emergence of Cooley as a second option has given head coach Brian Foster a two-headed monster in his backfield. Through just four games, the duo has already combined for 1,172 yards and 18 touchdowns. They’ll face their toughest test of the regular season on Thursday night, though, when they run into Wake Forest’s championship-caliber defense.

QB: Brycen Jackson, Northern (Sr.) -- Jackson played well in last week’s rivalry game at Southern. The senior quarterback threw for 200 yards and matched his season-high with three passing touchdowns. If he can avoid turnovers -- Jackson has coughed the ball up nine times this season -- the Knights should be in good shape against Apex Friendship.

RB: Hamilton Moore, Enloe (Sr.) -- Moore was sensational last week. The future Yale Bulldog rushed for 360 yards and all six of Enloe’s touchdowns, carrying the Eagles to a 42-35 win over Sanderson. Heading into Friday’s contest at Millbrook, he’s rushed for 1,057 yards in five games -- good enough for third in North Carolina.

QB: Vince Amendola, Leesville (Sr.) -- Amendola has cooled down after a red-hot start to his 2018 campaign. The senior quarterback’s completion percentage has dipped below 50 percent in each of his past two starts. He’s only thrown three touchdowns over weeks 4-6, after tossing 10 during weeks 1-3. However, he has been running the ball more effectively of late, totaling 122 yards and two scores over the past two weeks.

LB: Joey Maya, Middle Creek (Sr.) -- Maya’s 84 total tackles are good enough for third-best in the state. Even more impressive is that 82 of those tackles registered as solo efforts. He’ll hope to improve on an already stellar season this week against Panther Creek.

WR: Jonathan Streeter, Panther Creek (So.) -- Streeter played a big role on both sides of the ball in the Catamounts back-to-back wins. In last week’s win against Apex, he hauled in seven passes as a wide receiver, including one touchdown. He also lined up at cornerback, tallying three tackles and one interception. Panther Creek will need him to step up, especially on defense, as they host Vince Amendola and Leesville.

Other top games to watch

Apex Friendship (1-3) at Northern Durham (5-0) - Thursday, 7 p.m. - At 5-0, the Northern Knights are off to one of their best starts to a season this century. The Patriots are stumbling into the contest, having lost three in a row. Meanwhile, the Knights are riding high. Northern defeated Southern 26-6 last Friday to complete a successive three-game sweep of crosstown rivals Jordan, Durham-Riverside and the Spartans.

Enloe (5-0) at Millbrook (1-4) - Friday, 7 p.m. - Running back Hamilton Moore and the undefeated Enloe Eagles will look to move to 6-0 Friday night, taking on the one-win Millbrook Wildcats. The Eagles rallied last week against Sanderson to remain perfect on the season. Tied to start the fourth quarter, Enloe built a 14-point cushion on back-to-back touchdowns by Moore, and held on to win 42-35. Millbrook notched its only win of the season last week, blowing out winless Southeast Raleigh (0-6) on the road.

Leesville (4-2) at Sanderson (2-3) - Friday, 7 p.m. - Leesville has made a habit of sluggish starts. The Pride have been held scoreless in each of their past three first quarters. In their two losses, these slow starts resulted in insurmountable deficits: a 14-point disadvantage at top-ranked Wake Forest, and a 21-point hole last week against Cardinal Gibbons. But don’t let the losing record fool you: Sanderson is a talented team. Their three losses have come against two still-undefeated opponents in East Forsyth and Enloe, as well as one-loss Heritage. A strong opening quarter, by either side, could be crucial in deciding who comes away with a win Friday night.

Middle Creek (3-2) at Panther Creek (2-3) - Thursday, 7 p.m. - Two teams riding two-game win streaks will converge in Cary on Thursday night, when the Catamounts host the visiting Mustangs. Barring its two losses to unbeaten teams, Rocky Mount and Wake Forest, Middle Creek has looked like a contender this year. The Mustangs defense is anchored by middle linebacker Joey Maya. Panther Creek is in the midst of its program’s first winning streak since 2015, after beating Apex Friendship and Apex in back-to-back weeks.

Other Wake County games of note

Clayton (4-1) at Fike (2-2) - Thursday, 7 p.m.

Grace Christian (1-1) at Faith Christian (3-1) - Thursday, 7 p.m.

North Raleigh Christian (1-4) at Harrells Christian (1-2) - Friday, 7 p.m.

Ravenscroft (2-3) at Fayetteville Christian (0-5) - Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Southampton Academy (VA) (2-2) at Cary Christian (0-4) - Friday, 7 p.m.

Southeast Raleigh (0-5) at Broughton (3-2) - Friday, 7 p.m.

Village Christian (5-0) at Wake Christian (2-2) - Friday, 7 p.m.

Other Durham games of note

Jordan (1-4) at Hillside (2-2) - Friday, 7 p.m.

Southern Durham (2-4) at Orange (1-3) - Friday, 7 p.m.

Vance County (1-4) at Durham-Riverside (1-2) - Friday, 7 p.m.

Other Chapel Hill-Carrboro games of note

East Chapel Hill (0-4) at Union Pines (2-2) - Friday, 7 p.m.

Apex, Athens Drive, Cardinal Gibbons, Carrboro, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Green Hope, Heritage, Holly Springs and Knightdale are all off this week.

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