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High school football preview: The players and games to watch in Week Five

The skies are clear and the schedule is full, so Week Five should be a good one across the area for high school football.

With conference play around the corner for most teams, schools are getting one final tune up before jumping into league play. The highlight of the night includes a classic 3A-4A battle between two ranked area teams.

There are also some quality out-of-conference games outside of the Triangle worth keeping an eye on Friday night.

Game of the week

Cardinal Gibbons (2-1) at Cleveland (4-0), 7:30

For the second straight week Cardinal Gibbons is in the spotlight, squaring off against another undefeated opponent. The No. 9 Crusaders, fresh off their first loss of the season, travel to Johnston County to take on the No. 5 Rams. Last year in Raleigh, the Rams won a shootout, 44-35.

Cleveland has still been scoring in bunches this season, averaging 43.2 points per game. If the Rams can pull off a second straight win over the Crusaders, one of the better 4A teams in the state, Cleveland could cruise through rest of the regular season without losing a game. Cardinal Gibbons will be facing a ranked team for the second straight week. Last week’s 45-28 loss to Richmond County was a tall task, but the Crusaders used that game as a measure of how they’re doing.

You also don’t want to miss

Tarboro (4-0) at Southwest Edgecombe (3-0)

The ‘Function at the Junction’ has turned into one of the best rivalry games in Eastern North Carolina. This year, the pair of Edgecombe County schools head into the game with perfect records, which means fans should get to Pinetops extra early for parking.

The Vikings have been solid as usual, with the defense giving up only six points in four games. The Cougars are averaging 54.3 points per game. Tarboro has won three in a row in the rivalry. Just like in 2017, the two teams come into the game with undefeated records.

Northeastern (3-0) at Rocky Mount (3-1)

Northeastern, which played in the 2A championship game last season, is making the 112-mile trip for a huge out-of-conference matchup. Rocky Mount, a consistent 3A threat, has been on a roll since dropping the season opener against Tarboro.

Wakefield (3-1) at Southern Durham (2-1)

The Wolverines and Spartans are two area teams that are trending up. Both teams dropped their season openers, but head into this contest on winning streaks. Wakefield edged Millbrook by two points in week two, but have won by 27 and 33 in the following two games. The Spartans have lived on the edge a bit, winning their last two games by a combined five points.

Knightdale (4-0) at Enloe (3-1)

Is Knightdale for real? Hard to tell. Sure, the Knights are 4-0, but the combined records of their previous four opponents is 1-15. The road trip to Enloe will be the Knights’ first true test. The Eagles are in the same boat. Their opponents combined record is 3-13. Jordan is the only team Enloe has played that’s won a game this season, and the Falcons defeated the Eagles 26-21. Their records might not tell the whole story about what these teams can or can’t do, but fans will know more about the two teams after this week.

Week five players to watch

Jack Grazen, Cardinal Gibbons

Last week against Richmond, Grazen put on a show for the Crusaders. He rushed for 119 yards and a score, plus caught two touchdown passes. If Cardinal Gibbons hopes to outscore Cleveland, Grazen will have to have another big game.

Omarion Hampton, Cleveland

Football fans should be watching Hampton every week. The sophomore was his usual self last week, and finished with 187 yards on offense and two scores. He also made an appearance on defense and had one sack. The Crusaders will have their hands full with Hampton on both sides of the ball.

Trexler Ivey, Wakefield

The Wolverines signal caller has been on fire lately. Last week, he continued his hot hand, passing for 170 yards and two touchdowns.

Jeremiah Boronse, Wakefield

Ivey hasn’t been the only boost to the Wolverines’ offense. Boronse has been a big help and last week he rushed for 117 yards and two scores.

Jaki Brevard, Southern Durham

The Spartans’ linebacker had two sacks last week against Seventy-First. If Southern Durham wants to slow down Wakefield, Brevard will have to have another big Friday night.

Kimani McDaniels, Tarboro

The Vikings don’t throw the ball much. The Tarboro quarterback only attempted three passes last week, but averaged 13 yards per carry last week against North Edgecombe. Tarboro will need that type of production form McDaniels this week against Southwest Edgecombe.

Walker Harris, Heritage

The Huskies pitched a 22-0 shutout last week versus Sanderson, and Walker passed for 140 yards in the win. With Millbrook coming to town, Heritage will look for a big game from Walker.

Nolan McLean, Garner

The two-sport star just returned to the U.S. after playing baseball for Team USA. Against Clayton he passed for 200 yards and two touchdowns. The Trojans will need McLean to get going against Wake Forest.

Tristen Pullen, Millbrook

Pullen rushed for 91 yards against a tough Wake Forest defense. If the Wildcats are to pick up win No. 2 of the year, Pullen will need to produce that and more against Heritage.

Sean Brown, Middle Creek

Mustangs quarterback threw for 301 yards and four touchdowns against Athens Drive. Brown has passed for 1,033 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.

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Friday night schedule

Apex (0-4) at Jordan (3-1), 7 p.m.

Apex Friendship (2-2) at Athens Drive (0-4), 7 p.m.

Clayton (1-3) at Fuquay-Varina (0-4), 7 p.m.

Corinth Holders (3-0) at Smithfield-Selma (1-3), 7 p.m.

East Wake (0-4) at Harnett Central (2-1), 7 p.m.

Fike (1-3) at Lee County (4-0), 7 p.m.

Franklinton (2-2) at Southern Lee (2-2), 7 p.m.

Harrells Christian (3-1) at Ravenscroft (3-1), 7 p.m.

Hillside (1-2) at Northern Durham (2-1), 7 p.m.

Holly Springs (3-0) at Cary (2-2), 7 p.m.

Millbrook (1-3) at Heritage (2-1), 7 p.m.

Orange (1-2) at Durham-Riverside (3-1), 7 p.m.

Panther Creek (2-2) at Middle Creek (3-1), 7 p.m.

Princeton (3-0) at Wake Christian (4-1), 7 p.m.

Rolesville (4-0) at Broughton (2-2), 7 p.m.

Wake Forest (3-1) at Garner (1-3), 7 p.m.

Western Harnett (2-2) at South Johnston (1-3), 7 p.m.

Sanderson (2-2) at Green Hope (2-1), 7:30 p.m.

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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.