Gibbons now in control: Cardinal Gibbons (7-0, 2-0) scored with seconds left to edge Sanderson (5-3, 2-1) and take control of the Cap-7 4A Conference race. No other team in the conference is undefeated, and we’re only three weeks in. If the Crusaders can beat Millbrook (4-4, 2-1) at home next week, Gibbons will end the year with the league’s bottom three teams and a potential 11-0 regular-season mark on the table
Leesville still in the mix: Leesville Road (4-4, 1-2) is a dangerous team when healthy. The Pride fell in overtime to Sanderson last week and now has wins over Millbrook (4-4, 2-1) and Garner.
Fuquay-Varina hangs tough: The Fuquay-Varina (5-2, 0-1) defense held its own against Middle Creek (5-2, 1-0) in its South Wake 4A Conference opener as big plays were few and far between for both sides. The Bengals, which had trouble getting much going between the tackles, look for offensive improvement in the coming weeks. “They kind of beat us up front, and we’ve just got to keep getting better,” coach Jeb Hall said. “The counter’s been our go-to play this year, and we could never get it to pop.”
Middle Creek’s go-to guy: When the Mustangs needed a big play, wide receiver Jordan Mitchell delivered. In the second quarter, a flea flicker from Andrew Ihle to Mitchell got the Mustangs only its second play of more than 20 yards, setting up a red-zone touchdown. In the fourth, up by seven, Ihle’s jump ball to Mitchell was somehow hauled in on fourth down for the Mustangs’ third play of more than 20 yards. A few plays later, Middle Creek scored to put the game on ice. “JoJo made a huge play on that one and Ihle did too, because he slipped and I thought he was going to go down, but he got it out somehow,” coach Randy Ragland said.
Ravenscroft flying high: Ravenscroft (5-3, 3-0) has more competition in the Big East Independent Conference, one of few 11-man leagues in the N.C. High School Athletic Association, but the Ravens are still in the title hunt after taking down Wake Christian (4-4, 2-2). Next week’s home game with Fayetteville’s Trinity Christian could essentially be a conference title.
Few surprises in Week 8: North Johnston’s loss to Beddingfield in the Eastern Plains 2A Conference opener was one of the only surprises in county play on Friday night. The Panthers (4-3, 0-1) will have some work to do in the rest of the conference schedule. Cleveland (4-3, 1-0) and Clayton (7-0, 1-0) are still rolling in the Greater Neuse River 3A, and Princeton (5-2, 1-0) is off to a solid start in the Carolina 1A.
Orange steadies the ship: After a few too-close-for-comfort results in the last few weeks, the Panthers (5-1, 2-0) are back to looking like they could repeat as Big Eight 3A champs. Orange was back to its old ways in holding a potent Northern Durham (5-2, 2-1) offense in check.
Jordan and Riverside jump into Tri-6 race: Maybe Green Hope is still the favorite in the Triangle 6 4A Conference, but the competition for the second automatic playoff spot might come down to two Durham teams if Friday is any indication. Jordan (3-4, 1-0) ran through Athens Drive (4-3, 0-1) while Riverside (4-3, 1-0) pulled away in the second half from Panther Creek (0-7, 0-1).
ECC returns to old ways: The two highest-scoring games in state history happened last season in the Eastern Carolina 3A/4A Conference, and there were some signs it hasn’t changed a whole lot this year. Eastern Wayne scored 56 (and lost), D.H. Conley scored 70 and South Central broke a school record with 84.
Big East statements: Southern Nash (6-1, 1-0) and Rocky Mount (2-4, 1-0) easily dispatched two worthy challengers, so is the Big East 3A Conference going to come down to a Firebirds-Gryphons rivalry game just as it did last year?
NCC turned on its head: Two weeks ago, the Northern Carolina 1A/2A Conference had four of its nine teams at 3-0 or 2-0 in league play. Now we have just two: Bunn (5-2, 4-0) and South Granville (7-0, 4-0). Did Roanoke Rapids (7-1, 4-1) get caught looking ahead to next week’s showdown with South Granville? South Granville and Bunn will play Oct. 20, perhaps with all the marbles on the line.
Southern Vance’s turnaround: Is there a team that has improved more under a first-year head coach than Southern Vance (4-4, 3-2) under Darry Ragland? The Raiders entered the year on a 17-game losing skid. The Raiders have now won three of their last four and knocked off a Roanoke Rapids team that they lost to 49-0 last season.
Tri-County 6 hierarchy established: It’s not often the first week of conference play tells you as much as this. Union Pines’ victory over Southern Lee (2-5, 0-1) gives the Vikings (4-3, 1-0) an important win in the future of the Tri-County 6 3A Conference. Lee County (7-0, 1-0) and Triton (4-3, 1-0) combined to allow zero points in their openers and appear to be the top two teams, followed by Union Pines and Southern Lee, in that order.
PrepsNow ranking included
Enloe (won 34-24) at Broughton
Leesville Road (won 21-7) at No. 18 Millbrook
No. 5 Cardinal Gibbons (won 29-28) at No. 4 Sanderson
No. 2 Heritage (won 48-8) at Corinth Holders
Knightdale at No. 1 Wake Forest (won 42-0)
Rolesville (won 18-6) at Wakefield
South Wake 4A:
Garner (won 39-14) at Apex Friendship
Apex (won 18-14) at Holly Springs
No. 11 Fuquay-Varina at No. 9 Middle Creek (won 28-14)
Triangle 6 4A:
Jordan (won 32-7) at Athens Drive
No. 12 Green Hope (won 53-34) at Cary
Panther Creek at Riverside (won 42-21)
Eastern Carolina 3A/4A:
C.B. Aycock at No. 13 D.H. Conley (won 70-6)
Eastern Wayne at No. 21 South Central (won 84-56)
New Bern (won 23-20) at Southern Wayne
Big East 3A:
No. 6 Southern Nash (won 48-10) at No. 23 Fike
Hunt at Northern Nash (won 20-14)
Franklinton at Rocky Mount (won 41-14)
Big Eight 3A:
Chapel Hill (won 27-3) at Cedar Ridge
Southern Durham at No. 15 Hillside (won 29-20)
No. 24 Northern Durham at No. 8 Orange (won 31-14)
Greater Neuse River 3A:
No. 19 Cleveland (won 35-14) at East Wake
No. 7 Clayton (won 42-7) at South Johnston
Smithfield-Selma at West Johnston (won 34-27)
Harnett Central at No. 3 Lee County (won 56-0)
Union Pines (won 36-29) at Southern Lee
Triton (won 28-0) at Western Harnett
Eastern Carolina 2A:
North Lenoir at Greene Central (won 61-22)
West Craven (won 46-14) at South Lenoir
Ayden-Grifton (won 39-34) at Washington
Eastern Plains 2A:
Farmville Central at No. 22 Nash Central (won 42-7)
Beddingfield (won 35-28) at North Johnston
No. 20 SouthWest Edgecombe (won 48-6) at North Pitt
Northern Carolina 1A/2A:
Northern Vance at Bunn (won 56-7)
Granville Central (won 20-14) at J.F. Webb
Warren County at No. 16 South Granville (won 67-9)
Roanoke Rapids at Southern Vance (won 44-27)
North Raleigh Christian at Trinity Christian (won 56-0)
Ravenscroft (won 34-21) at Wake Christian
Southampton Academy, Va. (won 24-18) at Grace Christian
Community Christian at Hobgood/Northeast Co-op (won 40-36)
Faith Christian Rocky Mount at St. David's (won 49-26)
Halifax Academy (won 70-50) at Wayne Christian
West Montgomery (won 61-0) at Chatham Central
Goldsboro at East Duplin (won 49-6)
Overhills (won 42-14) at Gray's Creek
Randleman (won 59-12) at Jordan-Matthews
Rocky Mount Prep at KIPP Pride (won 24-12)
Union at Princeton (won 34-16)
Carrboro at Reidsville (won 64-8)
Hobbton at Rosewood (won 41-7)
North Moore at South Stanly (won 34-0)
Purnell Swett at No. 14 Pinecrest (won 38-20)
Pamlico County at No. 10 Tarboro (won 71-14)
Spring Creek at Wallace-Rose Hill (won 77-0)
North Edgecombe (won 42-18) at Weldon
Person at Western Alamance (won 65-6)
National Christian, Md. (won 32-12) at Word of God