Rematches will be plentiful Friday in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA football playoffs.
The Southwest Wake Athletic 4A has four teams clustered at the top of the bottom bracket. No. 6-seed Panther Creek (9-2) is at home against No. 11 Holly Springs (6-5) and No. 14 Apex (5-6) plays at No. 3 Green Hope (9-2).
Panther Creek beat Holly Springs 24-7 on Oct. 30 and Green Hope beat Apex 42-23 on Oct. 31.
No. 7 Heritage (8-3) defeated No. 10 Wakefield (6-5) 41-20 in another Halloween game. Wake Forest (11-0 and the top seed) beat No. 16 Leesville Road (5-6) 35-18 on Oct. 24.
East Wake (9-2 and the No. 6 4A seed) beat West Johnston (8-3) in a Greater Neuse 4A match 28-14 on Oct. 17.
Twelve of the 16 teams in the 4AA East and seven of the eight in the lower bracket are Wake County sports.
Baker is cooking: Heritage runner Matt Baker missed three games with injuries but has rushed for 200 or more yards in his last five games. He has gained 1,235 of his 1,414 yards in the last six games.
His most impressive game was 204 yards on 34 carries against Wake Forest, which allows only 54.5 rushing yards per game and has given up 594 total rushing yards all season.
Baker began the streak with 206 yards against Enloe, continued the string against Wake Forest and has gone 40 carries for 240 against Millbrook, 33 for 211 against Wakefield and 25 for 265 against Broughton.
Tough draw: For much of the season, Middle Creek looked like one of the elite area teams. But in early October, runner Elijah Perry went down with an injury, and the Mustangs lost to Panther Creek 13-3 and Holly Springs 42-35.
The losses dropped Middle Creek (9-2) to the No. 9 seed and a first round road assignment at Southern Pines Pinecrest (9-2). The Patriots’ only losses were 29-22 to Scotland County and 28-21 to Richmond County.
Mustangs coach Mike Castellano said quarterback Brant Grisel played well in a 33-27 win over Fuquay-Varina last week. Grisel completed 15 of 23 passes for 249 yards and had seven passes dropped.
Elijah Perry, whose 227 rushing yards were a key in the Mustangs’ season-opening win over Garner, rushed 19 times for 87 yards against Fuquay.
Tough draw II: Lee County was 8-0 before Fayetteville’s Terry Sanford stopped a Yellow Jackets two-point conversion attempt in the final seconds of a 14-12 victory. Then last week, Lee lost to rival Southern Lee 14-3 to tumble all the way to a No. 11 seed and a game at No. 6 Orange (10-1).
Orange’s only loss is last week’s 27-23 setback to undefeated Southern Durham.
Lee County still leads the area in scoring defense, allowing only 7.8 points per game.
In better shape: Undefeated Wake Forest enters Friday’s first-round game against Leesville Road in better physical condition that the Cougars were at the end of last year when they played for the state 4AA title.
Standout runner Bryce Love has carried the ball only 124 times, about 11 times per game, but has 1,368 rushing yards. He has fresh legs.
“We had some other backs step up last year after Bryce was hurt, but I think the guys get some confidence from having him healthy,” said Wake Forest coach Reggie Lucas.
Wide receiver Brooks Cunningham, who had a broken foot last year, is healthy, too. He has 18 catches for 511 yards.
“He has really helped our passing game,” Lucas said.
Pack recruit impresses: N.C. State defensive end recruit Darian Roseboro, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound senior, scored six touchdowns as a running back in Lincolnton’s 62-32 win over Maiden.
Roseboro dashed 60 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage and added scoring runs of 1, 5, 14, 42 and 5 yards. He finished with 22 carries for 222 yards.