The name that has come up most often as the team to beat in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference?
That’s not a surprise.
The Mustangs (12-3, 7-0) have won the past three conference championships and went to the 4AA East final a year ago, losing to Wake Forest 24-23.
The next team coaches have been mentioning is Green Hope. That might be a surprise because the Falcons went 5-7 (2-5) last year. Yet Green Hope was in every game. All seven losses were by 15 points or fewer.
Green Hope and Middle Creek will face each other on Oct. 3.
After those two, it’s anyone’s guess.
Panther Creek (9-3, 6-1) has talent, but it’s young talent. Coach Sean Crocker calls his large sophomore class “good football players” but adds “they just haven’t played on Friday night a lot.”
Holly Springs (6-6, 5-2) has a new coach in Wayne Bragg. How fast the offense gets his pro-style system down will have an effect on the SWAC race.
Fuquay-Varina (6-6, 3-4) is an underdog for once. Second-year coach Jeb Hall likes the change.
“We don’t want anybody talking about us, that’s fine. We’ll slip up on people,” Hall said.
Cary (4-7, 2-5) is confident because of its size. The Imps have four players who weigh nearly 300 pounds and about 20 at 240 pounds or more, but second-year coach Kurt Glendenning knows it’s not that easy.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” he said.
Athens Drive (4-7, 2-5) thinks it has found its rhythm in Year 3 under coach Chris Martin.
“I think we can put a good team on both sides of the field,” Martin said, but it will mean many players must play on both sides of the ball.
Apex (2-9, 1-6) could make a leap in the standings because it has a veteran team that lost three games by six points or fewer.
“I know our win-loss record didn’t reflect it last year, but we were a much-improved football team,” third-year coach Joe Kilby said. “Disappointing for us in the end, but it’s also a motivator for our guys going into this year. ”