Big Eight showdowns highlight Week 7 of high school football
A bye week by the PAC-6 4-A opens the door to Big Eight 3-A Conference madness tonight.
Area 4-A programs Hillside, East Chapel Hill, Riverside, Northern, Jordan and Roxboro Person get this week off to prepare for PAC-6 opening night Oct. 11, but 3-A teams will be out in full force as the standings of one of the state’s top 3-A conference get a chance to shake out.
Also taking the night off are 2-A Granville Central and 1-A Kestrel Heights.
The return of Darius Allen to the Chapel Hill backfield and overall improvements on defense and execution on offense the last two games in wins over East Chapel Hill and Oxford Webb has helped the Tigers turn around what appeared to be a dismal season.
The Tigers (2-3, 1-0 Big Eight) were victims of tough luck and tough love from coach Issac Marsh in the first three weeks. They lost heartbreakers in Games 1 and 3, falling at home to Riverside 17-14 in overtime after being stopped a foot or so short of the goal line on third and fourth downs and botching an extra-point attempt that would have tied Carrboro two weeks later in a 29-28 loss.
In the middle was a one-sided loss to 2-A South Granville (4-1) which has quietly put together one of the best seasons in the area with four straight wins after a season-opening loss at perennially tough Rocky Mount.
Chapel Hill will have a tough time keeping that win streak alive tonight when the Tigers visit Big Eight rival Southern (3-2, 1-0). The Chapel Hill defense will be hard-pressed to stifle the Spartans’ high-octane offense that rides on the big-time art of quarterback Kendall Hinton, standout receiver Maurice Trowell and all-around receiver/backs Jordan Brown and William Cameron.
Southern’s record is deceiving. The losses have come against the state’s No. 32-ranked team in Hillside (29-24) and No. 4 Scotland County (53-31). Both are 4-A programs that have won state titles in the last three years. More than a third of the 88 points 5-0 Scotland has given up this year came against Southern.
Against less daunting competition, Southern is 3-0 and has allowed only 47 points.
On the year, Southern is outscoring all its opponents 218-129.
Here’s a look at tonight’s other area games:
● Cardinal Gibbons (4-1, 1-0 Big Eight) at Oxford Webb (2-3, 0-1 Big Eight), 7 p.m. — Gibbons was the odds-on favorite to win the state title a year ago until starting quarterback Shawn Stankavage, son of ex-UNC and NFL QB Scott Stankavage, blew out a knee in the playoffs. Stankavage is back leading an offense that likes to pass (256.2 yards per game), but is perfectly comfortable running it as well (187.2 yards per game). Stankavage has passed to 1,238 yards and 11 touchdowns and runs for 70.4 yards a game. David Smith chips in 71.6 yards a game and Peyton Offnick 47.5.
Webb has been outscored 137-90 and that doesn’t bode well against the powerful Crusaders, even in Oxford.
● Northern Vance (0-5, 0-1 Big Eight) at Orange (5-0, 1-0 Big Eight), 7 p.m. — Orange lost in the state 3-AA semifinals a year ago and looks like it’s better this year. The Panthers are ranked No. 24 among all N.C. high schools by MaxPreps.com, the online partner of the N.C. High School Athletic Association, and No. 5 among 3-A programs. Northern Vance has been outscored 225-78 by schools nowhere near the Panthers’ caliber. Orange has an 196-43 edge over its five victims this year and its defense and offense should put this game away by the end of the first quarter.
If you’re interested, Orange counts three 4-A schools and previously unbeaten 3-A foe Northwood (at the time 4-0) among its victims. The Panthers have scheduled well and are ready to challenge for the Big Eight title. Its biggest games coming up are at the end of the year, home against Gibbons on Nov. 1 and at Southern on Nov. 8.
● Northwood (4-1, 0-1 Big Eight) at Cedar Ridge (0-5, 0-1 Big Eight), 7 p.m. — This is a perfect game for Northwood to rebound from its first loss of the year, 41-21 at home to Orange. Cedar Ridge is rebuilding and Northwood still has its big three of quarterback Ti Pinnix, slotback Kadarus Rone and wideout Jalen Smith. Pinnix has thrown for 1,248 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. Rone averages 82 yards per game rushing and 69 receiving. Smith averages 139 yards per game receiving and has scored eight times. Cedar Ridge has been outscored 178-118. Northwood holds a 178-111 edge over its opponents and those 111 points allowed include 41 by powerful Orange. The visiting Chargers should get recharged tonight.
● Randleman (4-1) at Carrboro (3-2), 7:30 p.m. — Carrboro had last week off and badly needed it after the state’s 2-AA runners-up from a year ago were decimated by injury including to potential all-state back Trai Sharp and star deep threat Marlin Johnson. The Jaguars had loss two straight without Sharp after starting 3-0, but those blowout losses were also against top teams in South Granville and Northwood. Johnson is expected back this week and since he starts on defense as well as receiver, that will be a huge plus. Sharp’s return is doubtful.
On another down note, Randleman’s been exceptional, outscoring its opponents 170-83 and showing a very balanced offense that averages 147.8 yards per game passing and 143 per game rushing.
● South Granville (4-1) at Wendell East Wake (2-3), 7 p.m. — South Granville’s done a wonderful job throughout its non-conference season and the Northern Carolina 2-A Conference standout has a chance to take down a 4-A program on the road tonight. The Vikings are now ranked 59th among all classifications in N.C. and No. 7 in the 2-A ranks. South Granville has outscored the opposition 192-67 and has a hankerin’ to run the ball — the Vikes rush for 261.2 yards a game, throw for 157.2.
Sean Bowman is South Granville’s breadwinner, carrying the ball for 175.6 yards a game and eight scores on the season, but quarterback Matt McCutcheon’s had an outstanding year as well.
East is coming off a win over Garner, one of the Triangle’s traditional heavyweights, but has been outscored 144-141 on the year. The defense gives up points, but the offense answers, much of the time. East has played a tough schedule and the three losses have all been to 4-A programs. South will have to play outstanding football to win this one, but it can be done.