Games with likely statewide implications featuring Southern, Hillside, Northwood and Carrboro highlight tonight’s area high school football schedule.
At Dudley High School in Greensboro, the state’s No. 12 (Hillside) and 15 (Dudley) all-classifications programs — according to MaxPreps.com — face off at 7:30 p.m. with undefeated records and state playoff posturing on the line.
Both 4-A programs are considered potential state title contenders and both have the playmakers to get the job done. Dudley (3-0) is led by defensive end Chris Register, a 6-4, 230-pound four-star prospect who has committed to Clemson. Quarterback/safety Emmanuel Moseley is another standout. He committed to Tennesee on Tuesday.
Dudley has won its three games by a combined score of 106-10.
Hillside’s margin of victory in two game — 56-48 — isn’t nearly as impressive on paper, but it is when the quality of the victims comes into play. The Hornets have already beaten last year’s 4-A state champion — New Bern — on the road and Southern, one of the state’s top 3-A programs, in a “road” game at Durham County Memorial Stadium.
The Hornets answer Dudley’s star power with a pair of four-star recruits of their own in running back Donté Thomas-Williams and wide receiver Trevion Thompson.
Defensive lineman Khalon Howard and a secondary led by N.C. State recruit Kalen McCain will be tasked with shutting down the Panthers’ offense.
A key could be Hillside first-year starting quarterback Nas Forté-Ferguson, who has been inconsistent in the first two games but has shown a knack for making the big pass.
At Carrboro, a pair of 3-0 teams with state title aspirations face off in 3-A Northwood and the 2-A Jaguars (7:30 p.m.).
Formerly fellow members of the now-defunct Carolina 12 1-A/2-A Conference, Northwood has moved up a classification, while Carrboro is back to try to improve on its 2-AA state runner-up finish of a year ago.
The Chargers bring a new state-of-the-art passing game to town with Ti Pinnix already owning a 500-yard passing game this season. Running back Kadarus Rhone and wide receiver Jalen Smith lend balance to the attack.
Carrboro counters with one of the better running backs in the country in junior Trai Sharp and deep-threat wideout Marlin Johnson. The keys for the Jaguars will be quarterback Jonah Mendys finding Johnson downfield and the ability of a lot of two-way players to hold up on defense as the game wears on.
Southern (1-1) hosts perennial state 4-A power Scotland County (7:30 p.m.) in the last of the three top games tonight.
No one can say Southern shies away from scheduling the cream of the crop. Because that’s exactly what the Laurinburg visitors are. The Fighting Scots (3-0) won the state 4-A title in 2011 and are ranked sixth in the state (all classifications) and fourth in 4-A.
Southern has moved down from 4-A to 3-A this year and has already faced a top 12 team in Hillside (29-24 loss on opening night).
The homestanding Spartans will have to play effectively on defense and get lots of points from offensive stars QB Kendall Hinton, RBs Will Cameron and Jordan Brown and WR Maurice Trowell to have a legitimate shot at victory. Cameron and Trowell could make a major impact in their roles and kick and punt returner, respectively. Both have big-play capabilities.
But win or lose, Southern is priming itself for a deep run in the 3-A playoffs. This level of competition should pay off later.
While Chapel Hill (0-3), South Granville (2-1) and Oxford Webb (1-2) are taking a week off, 13 of the area’s 16 football-playing schools are in action tonight. Here’s a look at what’s coming in other area games:
— Millbrook (2-1) at Northern (0-3), 7 p.m. — An interconference rivalry that ranked among the state’s 4-A best in these teams’ state-title chasing glory days of the 1980s and ’90s has dimmed of late, but Millbrook has picked up a pair of wins while Northern has been outmatched and outscored 125-22 in losses to three teams that made deep playoff runs a year ago. In fact, this game might represent Northern first-year head coach R.J. Wilson’s best chance at a non-conference victory since the next two weeks feature visits from Southern and Greensboro Dudley, both highly regarded statewide. On the plus side for the Knights, they’re finally at home at Durham County Memorial Stadium after three weeks on the road.
Keep an eye out for Millbrook QB Lemar Harris, RB Daminick Wilkins and S Trey McClamb. All three are major college recruiting targets, Harris already committing to Wake Forest.
— Jordan (1-2) at Panther Creek (1-1), 7:30 p.m. — A road trip to Cary is probably not what the Falcons needed this week, not after a 46-8 home demolition by Cary Green Hope. Panther Creek has played well to date, losing to undefeated and always tough Wake Forest (formerly Wake Forest-Rolesville) 28-14 and crushing Wake Forest Heritage 42-0.
— Cedar Ridge (0-3) at Riverside (1-2), 7 p.m. — Cedar Ridge has played better than its record indicates in its first season as a 3-A program, up from 2-A a year ago. The Red Wolves have been outscored only 84-59 and played an outstanding Carrboro team tough in the opener. This is a game 4-A Riverside needs as the Pirates look to regain the swagger they picked up in a season-opening overtime win at Chapel Hill. Riverside will have chances to pick up more victories in the weak PAC-6 4-A later on, but confidence now could be key to winning later.
— Southern Alamance (2-1) at East Chapel Hill (1-2), 7 p.m. — East Chapel Hill’s defense will be tested by a Southern Alamance program that’s averaging 37 points a game. On the plus side, the ECH offense should be able to get something going against a defense that’s allowing 33.3 points a game. East has been outscored 94-59 in a disappointing season to date.
— Roxboro Person (0-3) at South Boston (Va.) Halifax County (0-2), 7 p.m. — In a battle between the Rockets (Person) and Comets (Halifax), something’s gotta give and it could be a breakthrough win for Person. Neither team has shown anything to date, but that will change tonight. Person’s been outscored 118-22 in three games. Halifax has been outscored 117-14 in two games, losing its opener by 41 and losing in Week 2 by 62.
— Graham (0-3) at Orange (3-0), 7 p.m. — Orange has beaten three PAC-6 4-A teams in as many weeks and the Big Eight 3-A Conference power shouldn’t have too much trouble with a 2-A program that’s been outscored 143-45. Orange is ranked among the top 10 3-A teams statewide by the Associated Press and MaxPreps and should remain undefeated after this one behind the passing of Garrett Cloer, the running and receiving of Patrick Pettiford and the rushing of Tay Jones.
— Fayetteville Village Christian (1-1) at Granville Central (1-2), 7:30 p.m. — Granville Central hosts an independent school which has been more than up and down, losing to High Point Christian 58-0 and beating Gaston KIPP Pride 42-8. Granville Central should be in the driver’s seat in this game against a team with an announced roster of only 20 players.
— Kestrel Heights (0-2) at Winston-Salem Atkins (1-1), 7 p.m. — The nightmare of an all-road season continues for the undermanned Hawks of Coach David Lloyd (they don’t have a home field) as they will once again be decided underdogs.