Cap-7 shows its hand: It’s hard to learn much after one week of conference play, unless you’re the Cap-7. Cardinal Gibbons (5-0, 1-0) trounced Leesville Road (3-3, 0-1) to confirm its status as a conference heavyweight. Sanderson (4-2, 1-0) isn’t putting up as many points as Gibbons, but the defense is still stout. Millbrook (3-3, 1-0) did nothing to lose its status as the league’s dark horse, and seems to be separating itself from Leesville, Southeast Raleigh (3-3, 0-1) and Enloe (3-3, 0-1).
Getting ready for the NAC: The Northern Athletic Conference has a bye next week before conference play. It’s not surprising Heritage (6-0) and Wake Forest (6-0) are undefeated. It is surprising, however, to see the league has some decent depth. The rest of the league went 0-4 on the night, but three of them lost by a touchdown or less in three upset bids: Knightdale (3-3) to Fuquay-Varina, Wakefield (0-6) to Middle Creek in the final minutes and Corinth Holders (2-3) to Cleveland.
Surprises in the SWAC?: The Southwest Wake Athletic Conference kicks off league play in two weeks, and we could be in for some surprises. No team has looked unbeatable. Middle Creek (4-2) and Fuquay-Varina (4-1) survived scares, Apex Friendship (3-3) started fast while Holly Springs (2-4) and Garner (2-4) have gotten off to slow starts and Apex (2-4) surprised many with a 41-0 blasting of Panther Creek.
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Athens Drive opens up, Tri-6 notices: Half the conference is 2-4 or 0-6, which is good news for Athens Drive (4-2). The Jaguars have scored 30 or more points in four games (and played as well as anyone with Cardinal Gibbons for a half) and it’s that offense that might be key when Triangle 6 play starts in two weeks. Green Hope (4-2) is still the favorite, but Athens Drive can put up points in a hurry.
First win for Murphy: East Wake (1-5) got its first victory under coach Sean Murphy with a dominating win at Carrboro (2-3). It’s the second straight week the Warriors have scored at least 40 points.
Princeton honors Harvey Brooks: When former Princeton football coach Harvey Brooks died earlier this month, the funeral services were held at the school that meant so much to him, and vice versa. This week, the Bulldogs (4-1) honored Brooks, who started the program, with a moment of silence before the game, “HB” stickers on their helmets and “BROOKS FIELD” painted on the field that already bore his name. Brooks’ teams played for three state titles and he posted 27 consecutive winning seasons in his 28-year career at the school.
North Johnston’s Whitley shines: Princeton’s coaches made sure to stop North Johnston (4-2) quarterback Trey Whitley after the postgame handshake lines and give him a few more compliments. In a wild game where the two teams scored three touchdowns in the first 68 seconds of the third quarter, but none in the entire fourth, Whitley was the star. He ran for four touchdowns and threw for one, giving Princeton’s defense fits all night.
Corinth Holders preparing for NAC: The Pirates (2-3) have a bye next week before starting play in the Northern Athletic 4A for the first time. A win over Cleveland would’ve been great for confidence for a team that opens with Heritage and Wake Forest, but the Pirates seem to be improving each week.
Greater Neuse River flow: There were some good signs for teams in the Greater Neuse River 3A Conference as most teams head into bye weeks: Clayton (6-0) looks like a well-rounded team that could run the table; Cleveland (3-3) is battle-tested and coming off another close win against a 4A rival; South Johnston is now 4-2 and has been in every game it’s played. Smithfield-Selma (0-5) was idle this week, but next week it’s got a good chance at snapping a 24-game losing skid.
Northern stops Southern’s streak: Northern Durham (4-1, 1-0) topped Bull City rival Southern Durham (1-5, 0-1) for the first time since 2003. That was a good year for the Knights, which finished 13-1, falling to Andre Brown and J.H. Rose in the 2003 4A East final. Northern’s no fluke, and could be nipping on the heels of Orange and Hillside in the Big Eight 3A Conference.
Person off on the right foot: Kicker Louis Gillie helped the Rockets (2-3, 1-0) win their first game as members of the Mid-State 3A Conference at Morehead High in Rockingham County, which makes that hour-long bus ride (there will be many more of those in this league!) that much sweeter.
Riverside’s defense shines again: The Pirates (3-2) are allowing just 15 points per game and have two shutouts already. Next week’s game at Cardinal Gibbons will be its biggest test yet.
Northwood still a sleeper: The Chargers are 4-2 (1-0) and will have Chapel Hill, a bye week and Southern Durham over the next three weeks. Northwood could very well get to 6-2 going into a final three-game stretch, controlling its own Big Eight 3A destiny against Northern Durham, Hillside and Orange.
Eastern Carolina 2A still unknown: After Greene Central (4-2, 1-0), West Craven (2-4, 1-0) and Kinston (6-0, 1-0) picked up wins (Ayden-Grifton was on a bye), it’s clear the EC2A’s schedule is back-loaded. Aside from next week’s showdown between Greene Central and Kinston, most of the big games are in October. Those top four teams could finish in any order.
South Central’s statement in Eastern Carolina 3A/4A: What a way to win your first game against a county rival. South Central (5-1, 1-0) rolled by J.H. Rose (1-5, 0-1), beating the Rampants for the first time. The Falcons can’t be overlooked to challenge D.H. Conley (5-1, 1-0) for the conference title, though they also can’t overlook New Bern (2-4, 1-0) to aim for the 1-seed in the 4A half of the conference.
New look at the Big East: With another Rocky Mount (1-4) loss, the doors look open for Southern Nash (5-1) to make a run at a repeat this year in the Big East 3A. Fike (4-2) can’t be overlooked. The Golden Demons’ only losses are to undefeated teams, and it has strong wins over Northern Durham (4-1) and Triton (3-2).
The Eastern Plains 2A is back: A year ago, the Eastern Plains 2A Conference was won by a team that started 0-5. That won’t happen again. SouthWest Edgecombe (4-1) and Nash Central (5-1) appear to be on a collision course for the conference title. However, of the six losses suffered by Farmville Central (3-3) and Beddingfield (3-3), four are to 3A teams and one is to an undefeated 2A squad.
Tarboro’s statement: The only question for Tarboro (6-0, 1-0) after the Vikings shellacked fellow top-10 1A team Southside (4-2, 0-1) to open up conference play is whether or not they’ll get home field advantage throughout the 1AA playoffs as an 11-0 team.
Southern Vance still rising: The Raiders (3-3, 2-1 Northern Carolina 1A/2A) held a team to single digits for the first time in two years and are .500 past the halfway point of the season for the first time since 2013. Southern Vance gets a big test next week with undefeated South Granville.
First tests still to come: Bunn (4-2, 3-0), Warren County (5-1, 3-0), Roanoke Rapids (6-0, 3-0) and South Granville (5-0, 2-0) haven’t lost a Northern Carolian 1A/2A Conference game in 11 combined tries. But the quartet will finally start playing one another beginning next week, when Bunn and Warren County play. It’s a backloaded conference schedule.
Setbacks open up Tri-County 6 for domination: As if Lee County (5-0) wasn’t already the Tri-County 6 Conference favorite, the league went 0-5 on Friday as the Yellow Jackets had the week off. The real race might be for the second overall spot. Southern Lee (2-4), Union Pines (3-3) and Triton (3-2) have the best shot, and of those three only Triton has yet to be blown out. Western Harnett (0-6) and Harnett Central (1-4) have struggled mightily.
What happens to Pinecrest now?: Pinecrest (3-2, 0-1 Sandhills 4A) has come close to unseating Richmond and Scotland in conference play, but trying to do that this year gets harder after a loss to league newcomer Seventy-First.
PrepsNow ranking included
West Johnston at Athens Drive (won 56-13)
Word of God at Aynor, S.C. (won 49-12)
Northside, Jax. (won 48-7) at Beddingfield
East Wake (won 48-6) at Carrboro
Ravenscroft at Charlotte Christian (won 56-6)
Cary at No. 7 Clayton (won 46-8)
No. 21 Cleveland (won 34-27) at Corinth Holders
Apex Friendship at No. 13 Green Hope (won 28-6)
Riverside (won 20-0) at Harnett Central
North Pitt at Hertford County (won 48-6)
No. 2 Heritage (won 52-7) at Holly Springs
Havelock (won 56-0) at Hunt
Southern Lee at Jordan (won 39-17)
No. 12 Fuquay-Varina (won 17-14) at Knightdale
Metrolina Christian (won 49-24) at North Raleigh Christian
No. 22 SouthWest Edgecombe (won 48-35) at Northern Nash
Apex (won 41-0) at Panther Creek
North Johnston at Princeton (won 47-40)
No. 24 Nash Central (won 35-26) at Rocky Mount
Garner (won 31-20) at Rolesville
Wake Christian (won 30-0) at Rosewood
North Wake Home School at Sandhills Titans (won 14-12)
White Oak at No. 6 Southern Nash (won 58-7)
Fike (won 34-31) at No. 19 Triton
South Johnston (won 41-28) at Union Pines
Franklinton at No. 1 Wake Forest (won 49-10)
No. 9 Middle Creek (won 28-20) at Wakefield
Farmville Central at West Carteret (won 34-19)
Lakewood (won 42-9) at Western Harnett
No. 20 Leesville Road at No. 5 Cardinal Gibbons (won 43-7)
Enloe at No. 4 Sanderson (won 21-7)
Southeast Raleigh at No. 18 Millbrook (won 33-27)
Seventy-First (won 28-14) at No. 10 Pinecrest
Eastern Carolina 3A/4A
No. 14 D.H. Conley (won 55-19) at Eastern Wayne
No. 23 South Central (won 57-13) at J.H. Rose
C.B. Aycock at New Bern (won 56-0)
Terry Sanford (won 38-13) at Overhills
Big Eight 3A
No. 15 Hillside (won 49-0) at Chapel Hill
Southern Durham at Northern Durham (won 49-28)
Cedar Ridge at Northwood (won 48-20)
Person (won 16-14) at Morehead
Eastern Carolina 2A
Washington at Greene Central (won 22-15)
West Craven (won 40-6) at North Lenoir
No. 17 Kinston (won 36-13) at South Lenoir
East Central 2A
Midway (won 21-14) at Spring Creek
Jordan-Matthews at T.W. Andrews (won 44-13)
Northern Carolina 1A/2A
No. 25 Warren County (won 38-7) at Granville Central
Southern Vance (won 28-7) at J.F. Webb
No. 16 South Granville (won 52-10) at Louisburg
Roanoke Rapids (won 35-10) at Northern Vance
Coastal Plains 1A
No. 11 Tarboro (won 44-0) at Southside
KIPP Pride at North Edgecombe (won 50-6)
Northampton County (won 50-0) at Rocky Mount Prep
Yadkin Valley 1A
Chatham Central at Albemarle (won 27-0)
North Moore at North Rowan (won 54-7)
Arendell Parrott (won 66-0) at Cary Christian
Wayne Christian at Community Christian (won 86-74)
Bethel Christian at Halifax Academy (won 50-30)
Rocky Mount Academy (won 66-14) at Southampton Academy, Va.
Grace Christian Raleigh at St. David’s (won 42-24)