Prep football preview: Big conference games with league implications highlight Week 10

Tharius Suggs, right, of Middle Creek carries the ball against the Golden Hawks’ defense. The Holly Springs Golden Hawks visited the Middle Creek Mustangs in a high school football game on October 18, 2019.
Tharius Suggs, right, of Middle Creek carries the ball against the Golden Hawks’ defense. The Holly Springs Golden Hawks visited the Middle Creek Mustangs in a high school football game on October 18, 2019.


Rolesville (8-0) has won eight games this season, a school record for single-season wins, and the Rams have not lost. But since opening in 2013, Rolesville has never beaten Wake Forest.

The Cougars not only hold a 5-0 series lead, but Wake Forest (7-1) has dominated the games for the most part. To put it in perspective, the Rams have only scored 33 total points in the five previous games, while Wake Forest has scored 40 or more points in four of the five games.

Rolesville has been on a roll this season, averaging 40.5 points per game, and is entering the game with an offense that will put the pressure on the Cougars’ defense. Wake Forest’s offense will be the best the Rams have faced all season. The Cougars are averaging 42 points per game, which isn’t out of the ordinary for the defending three-time state champions.


Cleveland (7-1) at Clayton (4-4)

No disrespect to the rest of the Greater Neuse 3A conference, but this game is for the league championship. It has been that way since the two Johnston County rivals joined the same conference. Cleveland leads the series 4-3 and won last year 35-21, and heads into this contest on a three-game winning streak. Clayton has won two in a row. The game is a reunion of sorts for Comets’ running back Jalen Chadwick, who played for the Rams last season. Even sitting at .500 on the season, Clayton is still in good shape to win the conference and head to the playoffs if it knocks off Cleveland.

Jordan (6-2) at Riverside (7-1)

Jordan is currently fourth in the Triangle 4A conference but can make a leap in the standings if it knocks off league-leader Riverside. Not an easy task for the Falcons, as Riverside has won six in a row. Jordan edged the Pirates last season 22-20. Some favorable results have to happen in front of the Falcons for them to win the league, but a win over Riverside helps.

Apex Friendship (7-2) at Holly Springs (7-1)

Middle Creek did Apex Friendship a favor last week, knocking off previously undefeated Holly Springs. Now the Patriots get a shot at the Golden Knights, and if they want to stay ahead in the conference standings, they would need to hand Holly Springs its second straight defeat. Last season the Golden Knights shut out Apex Friendship, 24-0. The Patriots haven’t been blanked at all this season, but have pitched two shutouts in their past four games.


Tharius Suggs, Middle Creek

Heading into another big game, this time against Holly Springs, Mustangs junior wideout Tharius Suggs has been one of Sean Brown’s biggest targets. The 6-3, 175-pounder leads the team in receptions, yards and receiving touchdowns.

Justin Reed, Apex Friendship

Reed, who recently committed to Navy, has 13.0 tackles for loss this season and 6.0 sacks, leading the Patriots in both categories.

DJ Sellers, Wake Forest

Since Maquel Haywood has been out with an injury, Wake Forest has had to spread the carries around. Sellers, a senior, has gotten more carries to help pick up the slack and averaged 16.3 yards per carry last week against Corinth Holders.

Josh Pullen, Rolesville

The Rams are off to an 8-0 start, their best start in school history, and Pullen has been leading the rushing attack, with 880 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. If Rolesville hopes to knock off Wake Forest for the first time, Pullen will need to have a big game.

Jashaun Patterson, Rolesville

Patterson has been the big-play threat for the Rams. He has only caught nine passes, but seven of those have gone for touchdowns. Patterson is averaging 34.6 yards per catch.

Isaiah Sawyer, Cleveland

The Rams have a lot of talented wide receivers, but Sawyer leads them all in catches (21) and yards (258). Look for him to have a big game against Clayton.

Walker Harris, Heritage

Huskies’ senior quarterback passed for 433 yards and three touchdowns last week. He comes into the Knightdale game with 18 touchdowns this season.

Brodrick Gooch, Heritage

Gooch had a breakout game last weekend against Wakefield. He carried the ball nine times for 185 yards and two scores, averaging 20.6 yards per touch.

Corey Ibrahim, Leesville Road

Pride linebacker led the team with 12 tackles last week against Broughton.

Marcus Purvis, Leesville Road

Leesville Road senior defensive back had a huge game against Broughton, intercepting three passes in a 24-19 win.


Apex (1-7) at Garner (3-5)

Cardinal Gibbons (6-2) at Broughton (3-5)

Corinth Holders (4-4) at Wakefield (4-4)

East Chapel Hill (1-6) at Chapel Hill (1-7)

East Wake (0-8) at West Johnston (2-6)

Fuquay-Varina (1-7) at South Garner (1-7)

Heritage (5-3) at Knightdale (5-3)

Hillside (2-6) at Green Hope (6-1)

Leesville Road (8-0) at Southeast Raleigh (1-7)

North Raleigh Christian Academy (3-5) at Ravenscroft (6-3)

Northwood (4-4) at Orange (2-6)

Sanderson (3-5) at Millbrook (4-5)

South Johnston (3-5) at Smithfield-Selma (1-7)

Southern Durham (7-1) at Cedar Ridge (1-7)

Vance County (7-1) at Northern Durham (6-2)


CAP-7 (4A)

Leesville Road: 8-0, 4-0

Cardinal Gibbons: 6-2, 2-1

Millbrook: 4-5, 2-2

Enloe: 2-7, 2-2

Broughton: 3-5, 1-2

Sanderson: 3-5, 1-2

Southeast Raleigh: 1-7, 0-3

Northern Athletic (4A)

Rolesville: 8-0, 2-0

Wake Forest: 7-1, 2-0

Heritage: 5-3, 2-0

Corinth Holders: 4-4, 1-2

Knightdale: 5-3, 0-2

Wakefield: 4-4, 0-2

Southwake Athletic (4A)

Apex Friendship: 7-2, 4-0

Holly Springs: 7-1, 3-1

Garner: 3-5, 2-1

Middle Creek: 6-3, 2-2

Fuquay-Varina: 1-7, 1-2

South Garner: 1-7, 0-3

Apex: 1-7, 0-3

Triangle (4A)

Durham-Riverside: 7-1, 3-0

Green Hope: 6-1, 3-0

Panther Creek: 5-4, 3-1

Jordan: 6-2, 2-1

Hillside: 2-6, 1-3

Cary: 2-7, 0-4

Athens Drive: 1-7, 0-3

Big Eight (3A)

Southern Durham: 7-1, 4-0

Vance County: 7-1, 3-1

Northern Durham: 6-2, 3-1

Northwood: 4-4, 3-1

Orange: 2-6, 1-3

East Chapel Hill: 1-6, 1-3

Cedar Ridge: 1-7, 1-3

Chapel Hill: 1-7, 0-4

Greater Neuse (3A)

Cleveland: 7-1, 2-0

Clayton: 4-4, 2-0

South Johnston: 3-5 1-1

West Johnston: 2-6, 1-1

Smithfield Selma: 1-7, 0-3

East Wake: 0-8, 0-2

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