After 2 rounds of excitement, we once again have many good games that will be played this Friday night. Let’s look at each classification by region:
Northampton County (9-3) at Rosewood (11-1): Rosewood’s only blemish on their season was a 41 to 26 defeat against 3A CB Aycock (7-5). The Eagles won the 1A Carolina Conference by defeating Princeton 42 to 35 in overtime. Northampton County is riding on a 5 game winning streak based on a strong running attack. Both teams have stellar defenses too. While anything can happen, Rosewood looks like the modest favorite to win.
Gates County (9-4) at North Edgecombe (9-3): These two teams know how to move the ball down field! North Edgecombe has a very strong rushing attack while Gates County has recovered from a 4 game losing streak to win their last 4 games. The team with that protects the ball the best and who has the best health will win this game. In my eyes, this game is almost a coin flip, but for argument sake, I’ll give North Edgecombe the nod based on playing more consistent throughout the year.
Murphy (10-2) at Robbinsville (12-0): This game will probably decide who wins the 1A state championship game. During the regular season, the Black Knights defeated the Bulldogs by a 17-14 score. Both teams have incredible rushing attacks although the Black Knights might be a tad stronger in this aspect of the game. Murphy can throw the ball too, maybe a little bit more efficient than Robbinsville. Defensively, the teams are fairly equal. Murphy’s head coach, David Gentry, has numerous state championship rings while Dee Walsh has also has a championship ring. This game could go either way, but with Robbinsville playing the game at home, I’m going with Robbinsville.
Thomas Jefferson (11-1) at Elkin (10-2): These two programs might have a chip on their shoulder as many (including myself) believe that Murphy vs. Robbinsville will decide who represents the 1A West. Elkin is battle-tested and have played a pretty tough schedule in the 1A-2A Mountain Valley Conference. Thomas Jefferson hasn’t played as hard of a schedule. Another game that could go either way, but I’ll pick Thomas Jefferson to win this game by 1 score.
North Rowan (9-3) at Tarboro (12-0): The Vikings have a tremendous defense, allowing only 35 points the entire season. North Rowan, winners of the Yadkin Valley Conference, has a pretty good defense. While North Rowan has a healthy run/pass mix, I think Tarboro will prevail by at least 4 TD’s.
Manteo (11-2) at Holmes (11-0): While everyone rants and raves about Tarboro, the Holmes Aces are often overlooked. Holmes has a tremendous rushing attack and one of the best defenses in 1A. Manteo is no slouch either, and they have a good passing attack that complements their strong rushing attack. Earlier this season, Holmes defeated Manteo 56-0, and while I think the game will be closer, I believe Holmes will emerge by at least 2 TD’s.
Mountain Island Charter (11-2) at East Surry (12-0): East Surry might have the best passing attack throughout the 1A classification. The Cardinals’ defense is pretty darn incredible. Mountain Island Charter has tons of athleticism along with some very strong coaching. The Raptors’ rushing attack has been tough for their opponents to stop. I believe East Surry will emerge by at least 2 TD’s.
Swain County (11-2) at Mitchell (11-1): Both teams have played lights out throughout the season. Mitchell’s offense is somewhat better balanced between running and passing than Swain’s offense. Mitchell’s defense, however, has allowed only 61 points through 12 games. Throw in Mitchell’s home field advantage and I’ll predict Mitchell winning this game by at least one TD.
West Craven (10-3) at Clinton (11-1): During the playoff season, I always look at the team that has played consistent throughout the year and during the later stages of the year. Clinton, with their vicious rushing attack, is one of the most consistent teams in the state. West Craven has played well during the year, but have sometimes been inconsistent, losing a game or two that I thought they would have won. I’ll pick Clinton to win this game by at least one TD.
Northeastern (10-3) at Southwest Edgecombe (12-1): Antonio Moore, Northeastern’s head coach and my personal friend, piloted the Eagles to another double digit win season. His team will play the SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars, an explosive squad that loves to run. It’s hard to go against Northeastern, but in this case, I will. I’ll take SouthWest Edgecombe by a score.
Brevard (11-2) at Reidsville (12-1): Reidsville has pitched a shutout in 8 of their 13 games. The Rams can pass the ball and run the ball with equal efficiency. Brevard can also pass and run the ball, and their defense is fairly strong. For me, it’s hard not to pick Reidsville, and I will predict that Reidsville will win by at least 3 TD’s.
West Stokes (10-3) at Moutain Heritage (11-1): Mountain Heritage has a “nasty defense”, and by saying “nasty”, I’m giving the Cougars a major compliment as they play lights out protecting their end zone. West Stokes is enjoying a 9 game winning streak, and during these games they have played some stellar defense. I’m picking Mountain Heritage to win this game by a score or two, but if West Stokes catches Mountain Heritage napping, beware.
South Granville (10-3) at Randleman (12-0): I would love to watch this game as I have tons of respect for both head coaches. South Granville’s bread and butter is their rushing attack while Randleman’s offensive scheme is more balanced between run and pass. Both teams have played stout defense throughout the season. I’ll predict Randleman to win by at least one TD, but this game should be tight for much of the game.
Salisbury (11-2) at Hertford County (11-2): Can Salisbury stop Hertford County’s passing attack? I don’t know the answer, and I don’t think the Yellow Jackets have seen a passing attack like the Bears. Throw in a long bus ride to Ahoskie and I see Hertford County prevailing by 1 to 2 TD’s.
West Lincoln (10-3) at Shelby (11-1): Wow, West Lincoln has experienced their best season in the school’s history. The Rebels have a vicious rushing attack and an effective defense. However, the Rebels have never faced a passing attack as the Shelby Golden Lions has to offer. I see Shelby winning this game by at least 3 TD’s.
Burns (11-2) at North Lincoln (12-1): North Lincoln has a very impressive defense! In addition, the Knights have a splendid rushing attack. Burns simply have athletes all over the field! I like the Bulldog’s defense and their well-balanced offensive attack. While this game could go either way, and most likely, the game won’t be decided until late into the affair, I’m picking Burns to win by a few points.
Terry Sanford (10-3) at Southern Nash (13-0): Southern Nash will tire any defense with their relentless rushing attack. Seventy-First has a tremendous, well-balanced offensive attack. I like Terry Sanford’s defense a bit more than Southern Nash’s defense. The key to the game is whether the Bulldogs can slow down Southern Nash’s rushing attack. I expect a good, hard fought game that won’t be decided until late in the 4th quarter. I’ll give Southern Nash the nod.
Eastern Alamance (13-0) at Havelock (11-1): Wow, this should be an incredible game! I like both coaches and their well-balanced offensive attacks. Eastern Alamance has an incredible QB who has nearly 3,000 yards of passing this season. Havelock has played the tougher schedule than Eastern Alamance. Although Havelock has the home field advantage, and it’s hard to defeat Havelock at their house, I’m picking Eastern Alamance to prevail by one TD.
West Rowan (9-4) at Charlotte Catholic (9-3): Charlotte Catholic has struggled this year…well, relative to the past 10 seasons. West Rowan has played a no nonsense type of game, pounding the ball and making strong tackles throughout the season. Can Catholic stop West Rowan’s rushing attack? How will West Rowan perform against Charlotte Catholic’s rushing attack? I’m picking Charlotte Catholic by at least one TD.
Kings Mountain (11-2) at AC Reynolds (11-2): It’s hard to beat the Rockets at their home. It’s even harder to beat Kings Mountain when they are focused and play without making mistakes. Athletically, Kings Mountain is the better team. I’ll pick Kings Mountain to win, but I won’t be surprised if AC Reynolds is victorious in this game.
Cleveland (12-1) at Lee County (13-0): These two teams mirror each other with their offensive weaponry. Cleveland might be a bit more athletic and more battle-tested than Lee County. Hard game to predict, but I’ll go with Cleveland in a close one.
Gray’s Creek (9-4) at New Hanover (12-1): Can Gray’s Creek go on the the road for the 3rd consecutive weekend and sleigh another victim? Beating New Hanover is a tough task, but so was beating Southern Durham and Southeast Guilford. Gray’s Creek relies exclusively on their rushing attack, and I think they might need an aerial attack to defeat New Hanover. I’ll take New Hanover by two TD’s.
Northwest Cabarrus (12-1) at Weddington (13-0): Can anyone defeat the Warriors on their quest to win a 2nd consecutive 3AA title? To do so, you’ll need a well balanced offensive attack, and Northwest Cabarrus is almost exactly 50/50 mix between run and pass. You will need an excellent defense too, and through October, the Trojans had that type of defense. However, in the past 3 games, the Trojans have allowed 99 points. Weddington has allowed 69 points….through 13 games. Anything is possible, but I’ll pick Weddington to win by 2-3 TD’s.
Mount Tabor (9-4) at Watauga (12-1): Both teams love to run the ball, and both squads love wearing down their opponent’s defense. Mount Tabor’s defense is stronger than Watauga’s defense, but Watauga has the home field advantage. I’m going on a limb and will predict Mount Tabor to win this game by a score.
Cardinal Gibbons (10-2) at New Bern (10-2): I have tremendous respect for both programs and for both coaches. New Bern’s offense is very run-heavy while the Crusaders mix it up between the pass and the run. To defeat Cardinal Gibbons, I think a team needs to challenge their secondary. That being stated, I don’t know if Cardinal Gibbons will contain New Bern’s running backs. I’m picking Cardinal Gibbons by a TD, but it would not surprise me if the Bears are victorious.
Scotland (11-2) at South View (11-2): These two teams are very similar in their offensive attack. Both teams have splendid coaching and some incredible athletes. I’m giving Scotland the nod in a close battle.
Glenn (9-4) at Grimsley (11-1): Anyone have a coin? This game has the makings of a nail-biter. Grimsley has experienced an incredible season with a passing game that complements their potent rushing attack. Glenn has, in my opinion, an underrated defense that is borderline “nasty” (again, “nasty” meaning a compliment). I’m taking Glenn in a brawl.
Ragsdale (6-6) at East Forsyth (10-2): East Forsyth struggled some during conference play, but no worries, their rushing attack is loaded! Ragsdale is a tremendously well coached squad who can and will capitalize with their opponents’ misfortunes. East Forsyth, however, should win this game by 2-3 TD’s.
Hoggard (6-5) at Wake Forest (11-1): Well, Wake Forest’s long winning streak ended on opening day, losing to a strong Cardinal Gibbons team, but since then, the Cougars have started a 11 game winning streak. Wake Forest still has a strong rushing attack and a great defense. I’m picking Wake Forest by 3 TD’s.
Garner (7-5) at Leesville Road (11-0): Leesville Road is a disciplined team that can throw and pound the ball. Garner’s defense will have trouble stopping the Pride’s offensive attack. I’ll pick Leesville Road by at least 3 TD’s.
Myers Park (12-0) at Richmond County (12-0): Wow…this game might be a game to remember! Can the Raiders stop the Mustangs’ passing attack? How will Myers Park do against a vicious offensive attack? While I believe both defenses will perform admirably, I like the Mustangs in this game. I’ll take Myers Park by 1-2 TD’s.
Vance (10-2) at West Forsyth (11-1): Will the Cougars have a letdown after their epic heroics against Mallard Creek? Does Vance have enough offense to score much against the Titans? West Forsyth has not seen a defense this season like Vance. This game could be decided by which team takes the best care of the ball. I’m picking Vance to prevail, but I will state that this game is a coin flip.