UNBEATENS NORTHWOOD, ORANGE TO CLASH IN HILLSBOROUGH
There was little to no doubt that the area’s top high school football conference this season would be the Big Eight 3-A.
With returning state 3-AA champion Southern, state 3-AA semifinalist Orange and 2013 playoff teams Cardinal Gibbons, Northwood and Chapel Hill all in the fold, things couldn’t have looked brighter for the second-year conference.
Turns out, through four games, the Big Eight might have been undervalued. And tonight, the Big Eight jumps into conference play.
The top four teams in the league — Southern, Orange, Northwood and Chapel Hill — are undefeated (4-0) and ranked no lower statewide than 34th in the 3-A ranks by MaxPreps.com, the online partner of the N.C. High School Athletic Association.
One of those four is assured of suffering its first loss tonight as Orange, which has outscored its four opponents by a combined 144-40, hosts Northwood at 7.
Three of Orange's wins have come at the expense of 4-A programs from the embattled PAC-6.
Northwood has outscored its four victims 172-29 and is ranked 26th (3-A), Orange 13th.
Big Eight 3-A Conference Panthers crush Mid-State 3-A Conference Red Devils 54-14 in homecoming for Orange coach Pat Moser, who won at state 1-A title at Graham.
Tay Jones and Eryk Brandon-Dean scored two touchdowns apiece and quarterback Garrett Cloer threw a pair as Orange dominated Riverside 45-12 on Friday night.
It has been said that football is a game of field position and that adage held true Friday night as visiting Orange (2-0) downed Northern (0-2) 18-0 at Durham County Memorial Stadium.
The visiting Panthers of the Big Eight 3-A Conference beat Roxboro Person 27-14. The final score projected a rather convincing Orange win. But the Panthers did not look like the dominant squad Orange coach Pat Moser fielded a year ago, when they played in the state 3-AA semifinals.
The Orange Panthers’ House of Pain was nothing if not an inhospitable wasteland for visiting teams last season, where seven foes were vanquished and outscored 312-60.
CarolinaGridiron.com has ranked the top 15 high school football programs in North Carolina in each of four attendances classifications. Locally, Hillside is ranked No. 15 in 4-A, defending state 3-AA champion Southern is ranked fourth and Orange is ranked 10th in 3-A. ... Duke's Boutier falls in round of 32 at U.S. Women's Am ... Duke leads all ACC schools on academic honor roll ... Landon Donovan to retire ... Kevin Love to join Cavaliers, NBA sources say. ... Ex-UNC star Felton suspended by NBA.
NCPreps.com has named quarterback Kendall Hinton of reigning state 3-A champion Southern High School to its preseason 3-A North Carolina all-state team. ... Hillside star OT Emanuel McGirt was named to the 4-A all-state team.
Nine area girls’ soccer players have been named to 2014 all-state teams by the N.C. Soccer Coaches Association.
The votes are in for the best players in the 3-A Big Eight and 1-A North Central Athletic conferences.
Orange survived and advanced in the first round of the 3-A playoffs after getting three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 3-1 home, come-from-behind win over Northeast Guilford Wednesday night.
ORANGE CAPS PERFECT BIG EIGHT 3-A CONFERENCE SEASON WITH WIN OVER CEDAR RIDGE
In an odd twist of fate Orange finished its season undefeated in conference play and soared to a 20-win milestone in unfamiliar territory — at home.
Buoyed by a pair of early big innings and fighting off a late-rally by cross-town rival Cedar Ridge, Orange won 10-6 Friday night during a senior night game that ended two straight months of road games.
“I’m sure there was a little bit of nervousness. We played 20 straight road games, and so they’re back here and they’re excited to be back on the field for this last home game,” said Panthers coach Dean Dease.
“We played Feb. 28 here and March 5, and been on the road since after the [March 6] ice storm, so it wasn’t quite the home opener,” Dease said. The weight of the ice on the backstop netting caused the wooden poles to snap, crushing the backstop and sections of the brick backstop wall.
“It just was a disaster. You couldn’t play at all,” Dease said.
Dease said he challenged his team midway through the conference schedule to go undefeated, and they reminded him Friday that they met his goal, as well as getting the 20th victory.
East Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill boys' tennis stars advance ... Sean Obi officially transfers to Duke ... More ...
PAC-6 Track & Field Championships reduced to one day (Thursday) at Hillside ... NCCU opens MEAC T&F Championships ... Duke, UNC men's and women's players named to NCAA individual and doubles tennis fields ... More ...
Area teams lead or share leads in five of six conferences that include area high school interscholastic athletic programs after the winter season in Wells Fargo Conference Cup competition.