High School Sports

Here’s what we learned after some thrilling games go final in Week 5 of high school football action

Orange's Morgan Paschall Jr. (26) runs for the touchdown ahead of Riverside's Elijah Winston (5). The Riverside Pirates took on the Orange Panthers in a non-conference home football game in Durham, N.C. on September 15, 2017. Orange wins 23-3.
Orange's Morgan Paschall Jr. (26) runs for the touchdown ahead of Riverside's Elijah Winston (5). The Riverside Pirates took on the Orange Panthers in a non-conference home football game in Durham, N.C. on September 15, 2017. Orange wins 23-3. newsobserver.com

Wake County

Fuquay-Varina’s heroics will be important: The Bengals (3-1) were down 21-7 in the fourth quarter and appeared to have tied it up with less than a minute left when Cleveland (2-3) blocked the extra point. But Fuquay-Varina recovered the onside kick and scored with seconds remaining to pull out an important victory. If the Bengals can take care of Knightdale next week, they could easily be 5-1 heading into conference play.

North Raleigh trio stands tall: The Cap-7 Conference opens play next week, and it just got a lot more interesting thanks in large part to wins by Sanderson, Millbrook and Leesville Road. Leesville (3-2) got its first quality win in a big way against Garner (stopping the Trojans just outside the 1-yard line on the last play of the game), Sanderson (3-2) picked up its best win by winning at Triangle 6 favorite Green Hope and Millbrook (2-3) took care of business to become one of six teams in the league with at least two wins.

Wake Forest passes its test: The Cougars (5-0) shut out a solid Southern Nash (4-1) team that will be a threat to go far in the 3A playoffs. With this game out of the way, they’ll be favored the to win out until the season finale at home against Heritage.

How do you sort out the rest of the county?: After five weeks of football, you’d think we’d have a better feel on the Wake County hierarchy. But after you get by the top tier, it’s tough to sort out a number of 3-2 and 2-3 teams. How would you rank Athens Drive, Cary, Apex Friendship, Holly Springs, Enloe, Knightdale and Rolesville? These may not be conference championship teams but they’ve all got realistic chances at sneaking into the playoffs as of now. These teams will eventually be sorted out, but not by you or me. The new playoff format uses MaxPreps’ mathematical formula to decide who gets wild-card bids. These teams will have an eye on what’s released Tuesday when the new rankings are updated.

Johnston County

Princeton, North Johnston looking sharp: Clayton’s not the only county team rolling. We’ll know more about the Bulldogs (3-1) over the next two weeks, but although North Duplin and Lakewood are riding high, Princeton can’t be ruled out from the Carolina 1A Conference title talk just yet. North Johnston (4-1) meanwhile, just took down its second 3A team on the year. These two teams play next week.

Durham and Person County

Big Eight primer: Northern Durham and Hillside were idle on Friday, but Southern Durham (1-4) got a much-needed win heading into Big Eight Conference play next week. Hillside (1-3) is one of the favorites, while Northern Durham (3-1) is off to one of its best starts in years with several heart-stopping wins.

Orange and Chatham County

Big Eight primer, part II: Orange (3-1) looks like one of the Big Eight Conference favorites when league play kicks off next week, while Northwood (3-2) could throw a wrench into either the Panthers’ or Hillside’s plans to go through the league schedule unscathed. Cedar Ridge (1-3) and Chapel Hill (0-4) have both struggled so far.

Eastern Counties (Edgecombe, Greene, Lenoir, Nash, Pitt Wayne, Wilson)

8-man powers: When there are just a handful of 8-man football teams, and they’re split into 1A and 2A, it’s easy to sort out the championship contenders in just a few weeks. By staying undefeated and taking out potential title challengers, Arendell Parrott (66-20 over St. David’s) and Rocky Mount Academy (54-0 over Grace Christian Raleigh) have easily separated themselves from the 2A field. Speaking of separation, first-year program Faith Christian Rocky Mount just took down last year’s No. 1 seed Southampton Academy to move ahead of the rest of the 1A teams.

Farmville gets a boost: Winning a rivalry game is good, but there’s something about the way the Jaguars (3-2) beat rival Greene Central (3-2) that could spur them to bigger and better things. Farmville Central’s defense stuffed the Rams at the 1-yard line as time expired to preserve a long-awaited win in the series.

Tarboro shows muscle: The Vikings (5-0) players were gathered near the sideline to cheer on the defense as if it was a tied game. That’s how bad Tarboro wanted a shutout against rival SouthWest Edgecombe in the Function at the Junction, and it worked as they nearly intercepted a pass on the next-to-last play and blocked a field goal as time expired to win 28-0. Tarboro will begin play in the Coastal Plains Conference next week against several teams it has previously only played in the postseason. “I’m excited about it. It’s a new challenge,” Jeff Craddock said.

Better place for Cougars: SouthWest Edgecombe (3-1) couldn’t do much with Tarboro, but the Cougars are in a much better spot than last year’s 0-5 start. Holding Tarboro to just six points in the second half is something to build on. “I thought our defense really got better as the game went on,” coach J.C. Cobb said. “I certainly think we’re going to win a lot of football games this year. This is a great football game for us to learn about ourselves on film and take some things that we need to improve (upon) and get to work.”

Hunt did what?: Hunt (2-3) decided it had lost enough close games for awhile, rallying from down 26-0 to stun Beddingfield 28-26. Hunt tied it with less than four minutes left, then a bad snap on a Beddingfield (3-2) punt went out of the end zone for Hunt’s go-ahead safety. Beddingfield’s last possession started with 22 seconds left and the Bruins nearly broke the Warriors’ hearts. A block in the back negated the game-winner for Beddingfield as time expired.

Northern Counties (Franklin, Granville, Vance, Warren)

Second look at Warren County?: The Eagles (4-1, 2-0 Northern Carolina 1A/2A) may have a back-loaded schedule – they haven’t played Roanoke Rapids, Bunn or South Granville yet – but four wins in five games is a great sign for third-year coach Terrence McCormick. There’s a chance Warren County can end the season with a winning record, which would be just the second time in the last 11 years.

Tough for the 1A schools: Louisburg (1-4) and Granville Central (2-2) are both 0-2 in conference play, and both are the only 1A teams in the league. Aside from a struggling Northern Vance or maybe J.F. Webb, it looks like wins could be hard to come by for both.

Southern Counties (Harnett, Lee, Moore)

Breakthrough for Harnett Central: The Trojans (1-3) earned first-year coach Matt Migliore his first win and were in control for most of the contest. It’s a positive first step for Harnett Central, which has a tough schedule from here on out.

Lee County proves it’s a state title threat: Lee County (5-0) got its fourth shutout in five games by stopping one of the state’s leading rushing attacks. West Carteret had won games with scores of 47-14 (against 4A Southeast Raleigh), 37-21, 40-6 and 42-7. No one saw this coming from the Yellow Jackets.


PrepsNow ranking included


Word of God at Ravenscroft (won 62-30)


Apex Friendship at Athens Drive (won 22-21)

St. David's at Arendell Parrott (won 66-20)

North Pitt at Ayden-Grifton (won 24-14)

Hunt (won 28-26) at Beddingfield

Rolesville (won 34-6) at Broughton

J.F. Webb at Bunn (won 41-9)

Overhills at Cape Fear (won 28-7)

Cedar Ridge at No. 6 Cardinal Gibbons (won 54-6)

Holly Springs (won 33-22) at Cary

North Johnston (won 47-32) at C.B. Aycock

Fike at No. 7 Clayton (won 28-10)

Bethel Christian at Community Christian (won 46-14)

West Craven at No. 14 D.H. Conley (won 30-0)

Southeast Raleigh (won 54-41) at East Wake

Knightdale (won 37-14) at No. 25 Enloe

Southampton Academy, Va. at Faith Christian (won 28-22)

J.H. Rose (won 41-20) at Franklinton

No. 16 Cleveland at No. 12 Fuquay-Varina (won 27-21)

No. 24 Leesville Road (won 28-21) at No. 17 Garner

Rocky Mount Academy (won 54-0) at Grace Christian Raleigh

Southern Vance (won 50-19) at Granville Central

No. 3 Sanderson (won 22-21) at No. 13 Green Hope

Farmville Central (won 24-20) at Greene Central

Smithfield-Selma at Harnett Central (won 49-28)

Rocky Mount at Havelock (won 48-6)

Jordan at No. 2 Heritage (won 49-10)

Carrboro (won 27-7) at Jordan-Matthews

Roanoke Rapids (won 48-14) at Louisburg

Panther Creek at No. 9 Middle Creek (won 56-14)

Apex at No. 22 Millbrook (won 41-14)

Goldsboro at Nash Central (won 40-14)

Lakewood at North Lenoir (won 41-40)

Northern Nash at Northeastern (won 47-7)

Warren County (won 25-15) at Northern Vance

Charlotte Country Day (won 15-14) at Northwood

No. 8 Orange (won 23-3) at Riverside

South Lenoir at Rosewood (won 28-17)

Hertford County at South Central (won 55-27)

North Edgecombe at South Creek (won 22-6)

Western Harnett at South Johnston (won 28-21)

Wakefield at Southern Durham (won 21-14)

Clinton (won 27-23) at Southern Lee

No. 1 Wake Forest (won 35-0) at No. 4 Southern Nash

No. 21 Kinston (won 36-0) at Southern Wayne

No. 11 Tarboro (won 28-0) at No. 20 SouthWest Edgecombe

Rocky Mount Prep at Swansboro (won 58-0)

Albemarle at Union Pines (won 22-0)

Princeton (won 36-21) at Wake Christian

No. 5 Lee County (won 38-0) at West Carteret

No. 23 Triton (won 49-28) at West Johnston

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