Cruise control: First things first: the Cap-7 and Northern Athletic 4A conferences have been nearly upset-proof this year and that continued on Friday. Wake Forest and Heritage are now 9-0 (3-0 Northern 4A) while Gibbons (9-0, 4-0) is rolling through the Cap-7 aside from Sanderson (6-3, 3-1), which is now 3-2 in games decided by seven points or less after defeating Millbrook (4-6, 2-3) in the North Raleigh Rivalry.
Garner topples Fuquay: It won’t be considered an upset in the Water Tower Town, but Garner (5-4, 3-0) taking down Fuquay-Varina (6-3, 1-2) didn’t look promising a month ago when the Trojans were going through a 1-4 start. This year’s Trojans are built differently – there may not be a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time since 1983, but sophomore quarterback Nolan McLean is leading Garner through the air.
Yet another Friendship first: Cross off another from the “program firsts” checklist for Apex Friendship (4-5, 1-2 South Wake 4A). The school, in its second year of varsity play, has notched its first winning streak, first true home win, first win over a 4A school and now, after beating Holly Springs (2-7, 0-3) has its first road win and conference win on the same night. It might be time to cross off the checklist altogether – the Patriots have arrived.
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Clayton built for the moment: It’s a great time to be a Comet. Clayton (9-0, 3-0) has all but locked up the Greater Neuse River 3A Conference title, its first conference title since 2004. Coach Hunter Jenks credited the way his team bought in almost immediately after last season ended. “I think it all starts with relationships. We came in and our coaching staff has built good relationships with our players, and we developed trust. And from there, they just bought in,” Jenks said. “To come out here and win this game 35-13, it really got won in January, because the kids came in and worked.”
Cleveland keeps head up: Cleveland’s streak of conference championships appears to be ending at four in a row, but there’s a lot to look forward to still. The Rams (5-4, 2-1) have done no worse than 9-4 in any varsity season – and that’s still very much on the table with two weeks left. “I thought they played hard and rallied well,” Cleveland coach Scott Riley said. “Next week’s a big rivalry game as well ... if you have a good driver you might be able to hit their school (West Johnston) from our school.”
Must-wins: The MaxPreps formula has been hard on North Johnston (5-4, 1-2) and South Johnston (6-3, 2-1 Greater Neuse 3A), so Friday’s wins can’t hurt. Princeton (6-3, 2-1 Carolina 1A) didn’t have a must-win, but it gave state-ranked North Duplin (9-0, 3-0) all it could handle.
Northwood stuns Orange, takes control: Northwood (7-2, 4-0 Big Eight 3A) just went from a borderline wild-card team to a potential 1-seed in one night. Orange (6-2, 3-1) missed an extra point in overtime and that’s how the Chargers are now atop the league. It won’t be easy though: Hillside and Northern Durham are next.
Northern’s upset stirs old memories: Northern (7-2, 4-1 Big Eight 3A) has a lot to be happy for. It’s 4-0 against the rest of the county. It beat Hillside for the first time since 2005. And it also, by virtue of Orange’s loss, controls its own destiny to force at least a co-conference championship. Northern was a powerhouse in the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s but hasn’t won the conference title since 2004. Hillside (3-5, 2-2) had taken that torch, but the Hornets have now lost two straight conference games after winning 40 in a row.
Jordan stays hot: Make that a four-game winning streak for Jordan (5-4, 3-0) and now coach Anthony Barbour’s team will get its championship showdown for the Triangle 6 4A Conference next week against Green Hope (7-2, 3-0) at home.
Carrboro surprises too: In a completely unpredictable battle for the Mid-State 2A’s second automatic playoff spot, Carrboro has now beaten Graham, which beat Bartlett Yancey, which beat Carrboro. The Jaguars (3-5, 1-2) are back in the playoff hunt with three other teams and they’re altogether a combined 9-27.
Ch-ch-changes: Fike (6-3, 2-1) dethroned Rocky Mount (3-5, 2-1) from its perennial spot among the Big East 3A’s top two, and that’s what D.H. Conley (8-1, 4-0) and South Central (8-1, 4-0) did to J.H. Rose and New Bern in the Eastern Carolina 3A/4A. In the Eastern Carolina 2A, West Craven (5-4, 4-0) has now rallied to the top thanks to a shocking loss by Ayden-Grifton (6-3, 3-1) to North Lenoir (4-5, 1-3) and a two-game slide by Kinston (7-2, 2-2).
Your weekly Vikings update: Tarboro (10-0, 5-0 Coastal Plains 1A) has played 10 games, 10 wins, six shutouts and 40 points allowed all season.
Hobgood feeling better, and Vikings too: South Granville (9-0, 6-0 Northern Carolina 1A/2A) came from behind to top Bunn (6-3, 5-1) and will likely lock up the conference title for the first time since 2008. Coach Mike Hobgood, who had a heart attack last Wednesday and missed his second straight game, tweeted early Friday: “Thank you all for the prayers! I’m feeling much better –please continue to pray that I make a full recovery. I love you all and God Bless.”
Tri-County 6 confusion: Triton (5-4, 2-1 Tri-County 6 3A) could’ve been a week away from a de facto conference title game at home against Lee County (9-0, 3-0), but an upset loss to Southern Lee (4-5, 2-1) throws the race for the second automatic berth into disarray. Union Pines (4-5, 1-2) has already beaten Southern Lee but lost to Triton. Unless there’s another upset to be had – and it would have to be by either Western Harnett (0-8, 0-3) or Harnett Central (2-9, 1-2) or suffered by Lee County – we have a recipe for a potential three-way tie for the spot.
Your weekly Lee County update: Nine games, nine wins, eight shutouts and 27 points allowed all season, all by Hoke County. The Bucks should get a medal for that.
PrepsNow ranking included
Cap-7 4A: No. 4 Cardinal Gibbons (won 41-17) at Broughton; No. 8 Sanderson (won 21-17) at Millbrook; Leesville Road (won 30-27) at Southeast Raleigh
Northern 4A: No. 2 Heritage (won 28-0) at Knightdale; Rolesville at No. 1 Wake Forest (won 42-6); Corinth Holders (won 21-7) at Wakefield
South Wake 4A: No. 9 Middle Creek (won 41-6) at Apex; Garner (won 26-10) at No. 13 Fuquay-Varina; Apex Friendship (won 33-20) at Holly Springs
Triangle 6 4A: Athens Drive (won 53-21) at Cary; Riverside at No. 11 Green Hope (won 31-14); Jordan (won 37-7) at Panther Creek
Eastern Carolina 3A/4A: Southern Wayne at C.B. Aycock (won 32-27); J.H. Rose at No. 12 D.H. Conley (won 49-13); New Bern at No. 19 South Central (won 40-13)
Big East 3A: Rocky Mount at No. 23 Fike (won 17-10); Northern Nash at Franklinton (won 35-14); Southern Nash (won 56-7) at Hunt
Big Eight 3A: No. 16 Hillside at No. 24 Northern Durham (won 16-15); No. 20 Northwood (won 21-20, OT) at No. 7 Orange; Cedar Ridge (won 48-28) at Southern Durham
Greater Neuse River 3A: No. 17 Cleveland at No. 6 Clayton (won 35-13); South Johnston (won 46-22) at Smithfield-Selma; East Wake (won 28-0) at West Johnston
Tri-County 3A: Western Harnett at Harnett Central (won 35-20); Union Pines at No. 3 Lee County (won 68-0); Triton at Southern Lee (won 28-20)
Eastern Carolina 2A: South Lenoir at Greene Central (won 55-0); West Craven (won 25-23) at No. 22 Kinston; No. 21 Ayden-Grifton at North Lenoir (won 22-18)
Eastern Plains 2A: No. 18 SouthWest Edgecombe (won 21-0) at Farmville Central; Beddingfield at No. 25 Nash Central (won 40-33); North Johnston (won 25-12) at North Pitt
Northern Carolina 1A/2A: No. 14 South Granville (won 37-26) at Bunn; J.F. Webb (won 23-14) at Louisburg; Granville Central (won 21-0) at Northern Vance; Southern Vance at Warren County (won 32-30)
NCISAA 11-man: Wake Christian (won 20-0) at Harrells Christian; North Raleigh Home School (won 16-7) at North Raleigh Christian; Ravenscroft (won 22-19) at Village Christian
NCISAA 8-man: Community Christian (won 50-14) at Bethel Christian; Faith Christian-Rocky Mount (won 36-32) at Grace Christian-Raleigh; Wayne Christian at Hobgood/Northeast Co-op; Arendell-Parrott at Rocky Mount Academy (won 39-36); St. David’s at Southampton Academy, Va. (won 40-36)
Other: Graham at Carrboro (won 26-21); South Stanly (won 47-0) at Chatham Central; Wallace-Rose Hill (won 63-20) at Goldsboro; Person at McMichael (won 31-16); Northwest Halifax at North Edgecombe (won 40-18); North Duplin (won 40-39) at Princeton; No. 10 Tarboro (won 62-0) at Riverside-Williamston; Union at Rosewood (won 26-14); South Wake Home School at Sandhills Home School; No. 15 Pinecrest at Scotland (won 47-28); Clinton (won 56-0) at Spring Creek; North Moore at West Montgomery (won 54-0); Overhills (won 45-8) at Westover