High school football preview: The players and games to watch in Week Six

Dax Hardy (12) of Knightdale looks for a pass against pressure from Carmelo Merritt (32) of Enloe. The Knightdale Knights visited the Enloe Eagles in a high school football game on September 20, 2019.
Dax Hardy (12) of Knightdale looks for a pass against pressure from Carmelo Merritt (32) of Enloe. The Knightdale Knights visited the Enloe Eagles in a high school football game on September 20, 2019.

It’s conference time.

All around the Triangle, several teams will be jumping into conference play this Friday. The non-conference slate prepared everyone for this point and now is the time when the real playoff hunt begins.

A lot of teams have made it to week six with a perfect record, but all that matters now is getting off to a 1-0 start in league play. Not everyone is starting conference play this week, with a few interesting out of conference tune ups.

Game of the week

Leesville Road (4-0) at Cardinal Gibbons (3-1), 7 p.m.

Obviously it’s too early to crown the winner of this game the Cap-7 champion, but many football fans have been looking forward to this game since last year. The winner will come out not only with a 1-0 conference record, but in the drivers’ seat to win the league. These might be the two most talented teams in the area, and getting a head-to-head battle in the first week of conference play is a treat to football fans across Raleigh.

The Pride were off last week and the Crusaders turned some heads with an impressive blowout win over previously undefeated Cleveland. Once again, Cardinal Gibbons has to stare down an opponent with a perfect record. If Leesville is ready to prove it’s for real, it starts Friday against the Crusaders.

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Cleveland (4-1) at Corinth Holders (4-0), 7 p.m.

Cleveland was riding high until the Rams ran into Cardinal Gibbons last week. They’ll look to bounce back, but the Pirates won’t be an easy opponent. Corinth Holders wants to prove they are legit and a win over the Rams, one of the best 3A teams in the east, would go a long way. Cleveland rarely loses back-to-back games under Scott Riley. It’s only happened three times in his career.

Grimsley (5-0) at Knightdale (5-0), 7 p.m.

Last week Knightdale defeated Enloe and the Eagles were the first team the Knights played who previously won a game. Knightdale won big, but the test should be tougher this week when undefeated Grimsley rolls in from Greensboro.

Wallace-Rose Hill (4-1) at Wake Forest (4-1), 7 p.m.

This is an interesting matchup of two programs who have dominated their respective divisions in the east. It’s rare that a 4A team takes on a 2A team but it’s expected to be competitive. The Bulldogs are up to the challenge of taking up the three-time defending 4AA champs.

Since 2014 the two teams have combined for seven state titles.

Week five players to watch

James Talton, St. David’s

Talton completed 21 of 30 passes for 259 yards last week, throwing five touchdowns to five different receivers.

Dax Hardy, Knightdale

Trevion Cooley got a lot of attention last week versus Enloe, but Knights’ quarterback Dax Hardy was equally impressive, finishing with 137 yards on nine carries and two scores.

Brandon Ricks, Knightdale

Knights’ defensive back finished with 10 tackles, two for loss, last week against Enloe.

Omari Smith, Southern Durham

The Spartans have been on the right track, and Smith has played a big role in that. Last week he passed for 173 yards and two touchdowns during a win over Wakefield.

Parker Shoun, Millbrook

The Wildcats pulled off a one-point win over Heritage last week and Shoun finished with 12 tackles. Millbrook looks to make it two in a row this week against Southeast Raleigh.

Jaden Patterson, Millbrook

Last week against Heritage, Patterson rushed for 131 yards and one touchdown last week.

Zaki Curtis, Southeast Raleigh

The Bulldogs got their first win of 2019 season last week over South Garner. Curtis played a huge role. The junior rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns.

Zyon Rodgers, Southeast Raleigh

If the Bulldogs hope to win their second straight game, they will need another big game from Rodgers, who caught seven passes for 116 yards and two scores.

Gio Hines, Corinth Holders

Hines stepped up big last week against Smithfield-Selma. Hines rushed 101 yards and one touchdown. The Pirates will need another big ground game if they hope to knock off Cleveland.

Andrew Harvey, Cardinal Gibbons

The Crusaders scored 29 points in the second quarter against Cleveland last week, led by Harvey in the shutout win. Harvey passed for 135 yards and one score.

Friday night schedule

Harrells Christian (3-2) at North Raleigh Christian (1-3), 7 p.m.

East Chapel Hill (0-3) at Orange (1-3), 7 p.m.

Enloe (3-2) at Sanderson (2-3), 7 p.m.

Fuquay-Varina (0-5) at Apex (0-5), 7 p.m.

Green Hope (3-1) at Cary (2-3), 7 p.m.

Heritage (2-2) at Clayton (2-3), 7 p.m.

Hillside (1-3) at Athens Drive (0-5), 7 p.m.

Jordan (4-1) at Panther Creek (2-3), 7 p.m.

Middle Creek (4-1) at Apex Friendship (3-2), 7 p.m.

North Pitt (0-4) at East Wake (0-5), 7 p.m.

Northwood (1-3) at Cedar Ridge (0-4), 7 p.m.

South Garner (0-5) at Holly Springs (4-0), 7 p.m.

South Granville (1-3) at Franklinton (2-3), 7 p.m.

Southeast Raleigh (1-4) at Millbrook (2-3), 7 p.m.

Southern Durham (3-1) at Northern Durham (3-1), 7 p.m.

Trinity Christian (3-0) at Ravenscroft (4-1), 7 p.m.

St. David’s (2-2) at Rocky Mount Academy (0-5), 7 p.m.

Wakefield (3-2) at Ben L. Smith (1-4), 7:30 p.m.

Terry Sanford (3-1) at Rolesville (5-0), 7:30 p.m.

Sports reporter Jonas Pope IV covers college recruiting, high school sports, NC Central and the ACC for the Herald-Sun and The News & Observer.