Carrboro at Chapel Hill highlights Friday night football action

Sep. 05, 2013 @ 10:30 PM

Unlikely as it sounds, a 2-A football program is among the best in the area and will get a chance to prove it once again when favored Carrboro travels to reeling 3-A rival Chapel Hill at 7:30 tonight in week three of the 2013 season.

Those two teams are among 15 of the 16 local programs in action tonight. Hillside, the state’s No. 11-ranked team, has the night off.

Carrboro, 2-0, is coming off a 15-1 state 2-AA runner-up season and returns two of the best players in the area in junior running back Trai Sharp and senior receiver Marlin Johnson.

Carrboro is 2-2 against the Tigers since beginning the series in 2009 with a 35-14 loss.

But Carrboro — now in its seventh varsity season — became a winner in 2010 with a 10-4 record and not coincidentally racked up its first win over Chapel Hill that same year, 22-20.

The Jags lost to a 6-0 Tigers team 22-9 in 2011 but demolished a 5-0 Chapel Hill squad 35-0 last season.

The emergence of Sharp and Chapel Hill transfer Johnson has keyed Carrboro’s run to state prominence and Chapel Hill, 0-2 for the first time wince 2010, appears headed in the opposite direction after an overtime home loss to 4-A Riverside and a 37-13 rout at 2-A South Granville last week.

Sharp holds scholarship offers from N.C. State, Purdue and Illinois and the 5-9, 180-pounder has rushed 48 times for 383 yards in two games this season. His breakout game this season came Friday in a 34-21 win over East Chapel Hill when he carried 26 times for 260 yards.

Chapel Hill’s defense surrendered 212 yards to Riverside back Joel Evans in week one and 171 to South Granville’s Sean Bowman in week two and will be hard pressed to slow Sharp this week. And “slow” is about the best anyone does against Sharp who had more than 3,000 yards total offense and 38 touchdowns a year ago.

Compounding the Tigers’ problems will be the ability of Carrboro to stretch the field with first-time starting quarterback Jonah Mendys throwing and Johnson (6-2, 204) making big plays on the receiving end.

Johnson has caught 10 passes for 222 yards — an average of 22.2 yards per catch — in the opening two games.

Chapel Hill’s offense, by comparison, has been anemic.

Running back Jeremy Peck has 43 carries for 146 yards on the year and quarterback Grant DeSelm has 20 completions in 37 attempts for 178 yards and an interception.

A difference maker up front for the Tigers could be 6-3, 300-pound two-way junior lineman Logan Tisch, but Carrboro has an answer for him in their own two-way line star, 6-2, 300 senior Ezavian Dunn.

Here’s a look at each of tonight’s other area games:

— Northern (0-2) at Wakefield (1-0), 7 p.m. —The visiting Knights continue their brutal non-conference schedule (six games against five playoff teams from 2012) against the Wolverines and a potent 1-2 offensive punch of quarterback Evan Braband (21-35-1-300, 4 TDs) and running back Kelton Whitehead (14 carries, 183 yards) who beat Holly Springs 40-28 in their opener Aug. 30. Northern’s been outscored 88-15 in a pair of road losses to open the season.

— Green Hope (1-1) at Jordan (1-1), 7 p.m. — Jordan is the underdog tonight, but not a prohibitive one. Green Hope lost to an excellent Cardinal Gibbons team 14-12 in its opener and barely slid past lightly regarded Raleigh Sanderson (20-16) last week. The visiting Falcons (beware, the teams share the same nickname) don’t run the ball well, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry, but throw it effectively (40 for 77, 454 yards, five TDs). Green Hope’s Achilles could be turnovers — its quarterback has been interecepted six times. Jordan comes off a one-point road win at Raleigh Enloe.

— Orange (2-0) at Riverside (1-1), 7 p.m. — The 3-A visitors are the presumed favorite in this one with a quarterback who can throw (Garrett Cloer) and backs who can run and catch in Tay Jones and Patrick Pettiford. The Panthers have stepped up in classification and beaten two-straight members of Riverside’s 4-A PAC-6 in Person and Northern and done it by a combined score of 82-22. Riverside won its opener at Chapel Hill in overtime and lost to Fuquay-Varina 22-20 on Friday, showing it’s much more competitive than in the recent past. Running back Joel Evans has run for almost 300 yards total in the opening games.

— Cedar Ridge (0-2) at East Chapel Hill (0-2), 7 p.m. — East Chapel Hill was considered the favorite to finish second in the PAC-6 4-A behind prohibitive conference favorite Hillside. But lopsided season opening losses to 3-A Northwood and 2-A Carrboro have been disappointing. Still, East does have talented sophomore quarterback Connor Stough and that should give the Wildcats the edge over struggling 3-A visitor Cedar Ridge.

— Southern (0-1) at South Brunswick (0-2), 7 p.m. — Southern might be the best 0-1 team in the state. The lone loss was Friday (29-24) against Hillside, the state’s No. 11-ranked program, after the Spartans led twice, including early in the fourth quarter. South Brunswick — located in Boiling Spring Lakes near Southport — is coming off two lopsided losses (combined 71-0) and is unlikely to be able to contain Southern’s premiere offensive weapons in quarterback Kendall Hinton, running backs William Cameron and Jordan Brown and receiver/returner Maurice Trowell.

— South Granville (1-1) at Oxford Webb (1-1), 7:30 p.m. — 2-A South Granville is the road favorite over 3-A Webb in this Granville County rivalry game. Sean Bowman is one of the most effective running backs in the area and the visiting Vikings who also have a veteran, seasoned quarterback in Matt McCutcheon. Webb had problem protecting quarterback Beau Smith or opening holes for back Tobiah Lewis in a 30-0 loss at 3-A Rocky Mount last week and had to come back in the second half of its opener to down 1-A Granville Central 29-14.

— Northwood (2-0) at Jordan-Matthews (2-0), 7:30 p.m. — 3-A Northwood has unveiled a new passing offense under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Renner and quarterback Ti Pinnix threw for 500 yards and five TDs in a rout of 3-A Southern Lee 56-31 last week. A week earlier the Chargers crushed 4-A East Chapel Hill 39-14. Running back Kadarus Rone is a top rushing/receiving threat and Jalen Smith an outstanding receiver for Northwood. Siler City’s Jordan-Matthews is a 2-A program which hasn’t played a good team yet but convicingly downed 2-A Providence Grove and 1-A Chatham Central by a combined 88-7.

— Roxboro Person (0-2) at Greensboro Dudley (2-0), 7:30 p.m. — Outside linebacker Chris Register (6-4, 220) of 4-A Dudley is one of the most highly-sought recruits in the country and has committed to Clemson. Dudley is ranked No. 21 in the state and will be a huge favorite over winless 4-A Person which has been outscored 70-19 in its two games against Orange and Danville (Va.) George Washington.

— Granville Central (1-1) at Northampton (2-0), 7:30 p.m. — Granville Central’s trip to meet a fellow 1-A foe in Conway could be a fruitful one. Northampton County quarterback Keion Crossen is a run-first athlete for an offense that keeps the ball on the ground (42 rushes, seven passes in its opener). Bryce Parrott, who scored two touchdowns on offense and two more on defense last week, will cause problems for the Northampton defense.

— Kestrel Heights (0-1) at Chatham Central (0-2), 7 p.m. — The Bear Creek hosts haven’t had much success to date (outscored 79-12 in two losses) but visiting Kestrel Heights hasn’t had any success in years, most recently falling 55-0 to Walkertown. This is the second of 11 road games this year for the Hawks, who do not have a home game this season.