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Showdown in Wake Forest will determine Northern Athletic champ

Stop me if you’ve seen this movie: It’s the second weekend of November and two neighbors from Wake Forest are heading into the regular-season finale battling for the league title.

Wake Forest and Heritage have been down this path before. For the third straight year, the Cougars and Huskies are undefeated in conference play. For the third straight year, the winner will take the North Atlantic crown. It’s no secret the Cougars have dominated this backyard rivalry. The three-time 4AA champs have never been beaten by Heritage and an opening-week loss to Cardinal Gibbons seems so long ago.

Wake Forest has ripped off nine in a row, with only one real scare along the way.

It took Heritage some time to find their way. They started 2-3 but got it going at the right time - conference play. The Huskies’ offense, led by quarterback Walker Harris (2,551 passing yards, 27 touchdowns) and wide receiver Whit Kane (60 catches, 845 yards, 11 touchdowns) have averaged 36.2 points per game in conference play.

In the absence of Maquel Haywood, Cougars’ running back Elijah Hines has stepped up in the backfield.

Is this the year the Huskies finally get over the hump, or is it business as usual for Wake Forest?

YOU ALSO DON’T WANT TO MISS

Garner (5-5) at Apex Friendship (7-3)

There are three teams with one loss in the Southwake Athletic Conference, so when the dust settles on Friday, there will be some shakeup at the top of the standings.

Garner and Apex Friendships are both 4-1 in league play entering the regular-season finale. The Patriots are coming off a bye week, while the Trojans are one of the hottest teams in the area. After starting 1-5, Garner has won four in a row. The schedule has been kind with consecutive games against South Garner, Apex and Fuquay-Varina, who have all combined for four wins.

Apex Friendship will be a bigger test but the Trojans will come in riding high.

Green Hope (7-2) at Jordan (8-2)

The Triangle 4A conference, like the Southwake Athletic, has three teams with one loss. Jordan and Green Hope will come in looking for separation and to improve their playoff seeding.

Green Hope has won five straight in this series. This battle of Falcons features two ball hawking defensive backfields. Green Hope comes in with 12 interceptions, Jordan has 18.

Riverside (7-3) at Panther Creek (6-4)

Again, the Southwake Athletic is crowded and Riverside and Panther Creek are nipping on the heels of Green Hope and Jordan.

Riverside was on track to stay in the top spot but dropped two in a row. If it wants to get the momentum going again, it starts Friday.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Walker Harris, Heritage

If the Huskies are to pull off the big upset, Harris will have to put up big numbers. Harris has been a force and won’t be intimidated by the Wake Forest defense. He’ll have to play his best game.

Josh Hullem, Green Hope

The Falcons’ running back comes into the regular-season finale with a team-high 673 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Ben Foscato, Sanderson

The Spartans’ senior wide receiver played his final home game last week and caught seven passes for 83 yards.

Ben Haugh, Broughton

Capitals’ senior linebacker recorded 15 tackles in a 29-19 win over Sanderson last Friday.

Chris Moore, Wake Forest

It’s been running back by committee for the Cougars and Moore has been one of several backs to rise to the occasion. Last week against Wakefield, he rushed for 112 yards and a score.

Juwan Bunch, Wakefield

Against Wake Forest, Bunch was a standout, catching seven passes for 143 yards and three scores.

Hunter Morris, Cleveland

The Rams’ linebacker has been a tackling machine and goes into the regular-season finale seven away from a 100-tackle season.

There’s a good chance he gets those and more on Friday.

FRIDAY NIGHT SCHEDULE

Cary (3-7) at Athens Drive (1-9)

Cardinal Gibbons (8-2) at Enloe (2-8)

Chapel Hill (1-9) at Orange (4-6)

Corinth Holders (4-6) at Rolesville (8-2)

Holly Springs (9-1) at Hillside (3-7)

West Johnston (2-8) at Clayton (5-5)

Middle Creek (7-3) at Fuquay-Varina (2-8)

Millbrook (5-5) at Broughton (4-6)

Northwood (4-6) at Northern Durham (8-2)

Sanderson (3-7) at Southeast Raleigh (0-5)

Smithfield Selma (1-9) at East Wake (1-9)

South Garner (1-9) at Apex (1-9)

South Johnston (5-5) at Cleveland (9-1)

Wakefield (5-5) at Knightdale (6-4)

STANDINGS

CAP-7 (4A)

Leesville Road: 10-0, 6-0

Cardinal Gibbons: 8-2, 4-1

Millbrook: 5-5, 3-2

Broughton: 4-6, 2-3

Enloe: 2-7, 2-2

Sanderson: 3-7, 1-4

Southeast Raleigh: 1-9, 0-5

Northern Athletic (4A)

Wake Forest: 9-1, 4-0

Heritage: 7-3, 4-0

Rolesville: 8-2, 2-2

Wakefield: 5-5, 1-3

Knightdale: 6-4, 1-3

Corinth Holders: 4-6, 1-4

Southwake Athletic (4A)

Holly Springs: 9-1, 5-1

Apex Friendship: 7-3, 4-1

Garner: 5-5, 4-1

Middle Creek: 7-3, 3-2

Fuquay-Varina: 2-8, 3-2

South Garner: 1-9, 0-5

Apex: 1-9, 0-5

Triangle (4A)

Jordan: 8-2, 4-1

Green Hope: 7-2, 4-1

Panther Creek: 6-4, 4-1

Durham-Riverside: 7-3, 3-2

Hillside: 3-7, 2-4

Cary: 3-7, 1-4

Athens Drive: 1-9, 0-5

Big Eight (3A)

Southern Durham: 9-1, 6-0

Northern Durham: 8-2, 5-1

Vance County: 7-2, 3-2

Northwood: 4-6, 3-3

Orange: 4-6, 3-3

East Chapel Hill: 2-8, 2-4

Cedar Ridge: 1-9, 1-5

Chapel Hill: 1-9, 0-6

Greater Neuse (3A)

Cleveland: 9-1, 4-0

Clayton: 5-5, 3-1

South Johnston: 5-5 3-1

West Johnston: 2-8, 1-3

East Wake: 1-9, 1-3

Smithfield Selma: 1-9, 0-5

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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.
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