High School Sports

This year’s biggest high school football games are Friday. Here’s what’s at stake.

The Northwood defense grapples Chapel Hill's Alec Stough (10) during the third quarter.The Northwood Chargers visited the Chapel Hill Tigers in a high school football game on Sept. 29, 2017. Northwood wins 48-14.
The Northwood defense grapples Chapel Hill's Alec Stough (10) during the third quarter.The Northwood Chargers visited the Chapel Hill Tigers in a high school football game on Sept. 29, 2017. Northwood wins 48-14. newsobserver.com

Four players to watch

Joseph Boletepeli, Heritage: The senior 6-4, 244-pound defensive lineman is a prized recruit among ACC schools, including Louisville, UNC and N.C. State. He and the rest of the Huskies will have to stop the Wing-T on Friday against Wake Forest.

Marquis Dunn, Wake Forest: He’s the “2” in the Cougars’ 1-2 punch of running backs but hasn’t needed to take too many carries (625 yards, 8.3 yards per) this year. Dunn, who has picked up some Division 1 offers this year, will be going against the top defense he’s seen this year against Heritage on Friday.

Aaron Jarman, North Lenoir: The big tight end (6-5, 243 pounds) committed to Temple this summer. Now, he’s hoping to carry the Hawks into the playoffs.

Nolan McLean, Garner: The sophomore quarterback – also one of the nation’s top baseball players in his class – is poised to shatter the school record books already.

Games to watch

No. 2 Heritage (10-0, 4-0) at No. 1 Wake Forest (10-0, 4-0): It’s hard to imagine another regular-season game in the Triangle that’s been this highly anticipated. The Huskies are ranked No. 3 in the state and defending 4AA champ Wake Forest is No. 1. Two of Heritage’s three losses last year were to Wake Forest, and they were two of the three closest games the Cougars faced all season. Both teams will start many of the same players – including college-bound stars such as Wake Forest’s Marquis Dunn, Devon Lawrence and Javon Terry and Heritage’s Ricky Person Jr., Gunnar Holmberg and Joe Kane – as those games a year ago Get there early for the “Fight for the Forest” or risk having to park in Rolesville.

Wakefield (0-10, 0-4) at Knightdale (5-5, 2-2): The Knights finally appeared in the 4A football playoff projections this week. This is a must-win for Knightdale.

Apex Friendship (5-5, 2-2) at Apex (3-7, 1-3): Friendship is playing for a spot in the playoffs in the second edition of the Peak City Backyard Brawl. A win guarantees nothing – the Patriots would be out of the playoffs if the postseason began today.

Holly Springs (2-8, 0-4) at Fuquay-Varina (6-4, 1-3): Fuquay-Varina needs to win to solidify its spot in the playoff picture.

Garner quarterback Nolan Mclean looks to throw the ball against Clayton in August. Johnny Johnson newsobserver.com

No. 20 Garner (6-4, 4-0) at No. 7 Middle Creek (8-2, 4-0): Garner’s slow 1-4 start cast doubt that this Week 12 game would be for all the marbles in the South Wake 4A, but here we are. Get there early or risk not having a seat.

No. 11 D.H. Conley (9-1, 5-0) at No. 14 South Central (9-1, 5-0): Separated by a few miles and twice as many four-way stops, the Eastern Carolina 3A/4A outright title comes down to these two. Get ready for lots of touchdowns: Conley is averaging 51.6 points per game, South Central 52.6.

No. 22 Northwood (7-3, 4-1) at No. 17 Northern Durham (7-2, 4-1): If Northwood wins, it’s the Big Eight 3A co-champion with Orange and will take the top seed into the playoffs, while Northern will finish third and enter the playoffs as a wild card. If Northern wins, it’s the co-champ with Orange, but Orange will take the top seed into the playoffs, while Northwood will finish third and enter the playoffs as a wild card.

No. 24 South Johnston (7-3, 3-1) at No. 23 Cleveland (6-4, 3-1): The winner finishes second in the Greater Neuse River 3A and gets an automatic spot in the playoffs. The loser will be in decent shape to make it as a wild card, but will be one of the bottom seeds in the brackets.

Southern Lee (5-5, 3-1) at No. 3 Lee County (10-0, 4-0): Lee County has only allowed 34 points all year, so this game should be a breeze, right? Wrong. Southern Lee has upset the Yellow Jackets in three straight Brick City Bowls. If the Cavaliers do it again, Southern Lee will finish as co-champs and take the 1-seed away from Lee County. A loss likely prompts a three-way draw for second with Southern Lee, Triton and Union Pines. Two of those three likely won’t make the playoffs any other way.

Greene Central (6-4, 3-2) at Ayden-Grifton (6-4, 3-2): If Ayden-Grifton wins, the Chargers take second in the Eastern Carolina 2A outright. If Greene Central wins, it opens the door for a three-way tie for second with Kinston.

North Lenoir (5-5, 2-3) at Kinston (8-2, 3-2): Kinston needs to win and have Ayden-Grifton lose to have a shot at winning the 2-seed from the league. North Lenoir, currently out of the 2A playoffs, needs to win to get into the field.

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North Lenoir's Aaron Jarman (86) scores on a 52 yard pass reception and run after getting by Jonathan Haddock (24) to put the 12-0 late in the first quarter. The South Lenoir Blue Devils visited the North Lenoir Hawks in a high school football game on Friday, October 27, 2017. Dean Strickland

Beddingfield (6-4, 3-1) at No. 13 SouthWest Edgecombe (9-1, 4-0): Beddingfield could force a three-way co-title in the Eastern Plains 2A with a win. If not, the Cougars take first and Nash Central takes second.

North Johnston (5-5, 1-3) at No. 18 Nash Central (8-2, 3-1): North Johnston is another team on the outside looking in on the 2A playoffs. An upset win here is a must for the Panthers.

Bunn (7-3, 6-1) at Roanoke Rapids (8-2, 5-2): To the winner goes second place in the Northern Carolina 1A/2A, no questions asked.

Northern Vance (2-8, 2-5) at Southern Vance (5-5, 4-3): The Optimist Bowl is intriguing for three reasons: Southern star senior quarterback Elijah Stewart – who transferred from Northern to Southern in the offseason; Northern and Southern head coaches were both coordinators at Northern Vance a year ago; and Southern Vance’s need to win to have a shot at the 2A playoffs. Oh, and there’s that whole rivalry thing too.

No. 21 Overhills (7-3, 4-3) at Pine Forest (4-6, 4-3): If Overhills wins, its gets the top 4A seed from the Patriot 3A/4A. If Overhills loses, that top seed likely winds up in the hands of South View, and Overhills will be biting its fingernails until the brackets come out.

NCISAA D2 11-man playoffs: Ravenscroft (7-4) is the 6-seed and Wake Christian (6-4) the 7-seed in the new-look N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association D2 11-man football playoffs. Instead of teams applying to play in a division, the NCISAA simply put the four best teams in D1, the eight next-best in D2 and the next eight-best in D3. The result is that both Triangle teams in the field will be underdogs on the road.

NCISAA 8-man playoffs: In 2A, Rocky Mount Academy (10-0) will host its closest rival from a few streets over in Faith Christian (Rocky Mount). The Patriots (6-3) made the playoffs in their first season. St. David’s (6-3) travels to Kinston to face Arendell Parrott (8-1). In 1A, Community Christian (3-5) goes on the road to face the Northeast Academy-Hobgood Academy co-op team (5-4), which has done well in its first year. Defending champ Bethel Christian (1-7) will also be in Halifax County, at Halifax Academy (5-3).

J. Mike Blake: 919-460-2606, @JMBpreps

Area games

Check with school for times; most Triangle games are at 7 p.m.

PrepsNow ranking included


Cap-7 4A

Millbrook at Broughton

No. 4 Cardinal Gibbons at Enloe

No. 8 Sanderson at Southeast Raleigh

Northern 4A:

Wakefield at Knightdale

Corinth Holders at Rolesville

No. 2 Heritage at No. 1 Wake Forest

South Wake 4A:

Apex Friendship at Apex

Holly Springs at Fuquay-Varina

No. 20 Garner at No. 7 Middle Creek

Triangle 6 4A:

Riverside at Athens Drive

Jordan at Cary

No. 10 Green Hope at Panther Creek

Eastern Carolina 3A/4A:

J.H. Rose at New Bern

No. 11 D.H. Conley at No. 14 South Central

Eastern Wayne at Southern Wayne

Big East 3A:

Hunt at No. 16 Fike

Rocky Mount at Northern Nash

Franklinton at No. 5 Southern Nash

Big Eight 3A:

Cedar Ridge at Hillside

No. 22 Northwood at No. 17 Northern Durham

Chapel Hill at No. 15 Orange

Greater Neuse River 3A:

West Johnston at No. 6 Clayton (Thursday)

No. 24 South Johnston at No. 23 Cleveland

Smithfield-Selma at East Wake

Tri-County 3A:

Triton at Harnett Central

Southern Lee at No. 3 Lee County

Western Harnett at Union Pines

Eastern Carolina 2A:

Greene Central at Ayden-Grifton

North Lenoir at Kinston

Washington at West Craven

Eastern Plains 2A:

North Pitt at Farmville Central

Beddingfield at No. 13 SouthWest Edgecombe

North Johnston at No. 18 Nash Central

Northern Carolina 1A/2A:

Granville Central at Louisburg

Bunn at Roanoke Rapids

Northern Vance at Southern Vance

J.F. Webb at No. 12 South Granville

NCISAA D2 11-man playoffs:

1-Statesville Christian vs 8-Cannon School

4-Metrolina Christian vs 5-Charlotte Country

3-Trinity Christian vs 6-Ravenscroft

2-Charlotte Latin vs 7-Wake Christian


Cummings at Carrboro

North Moore at Chatham Central

No. 25 Pinecrest at Hoke County

Providence Grove at Jordan-Matthews

Goldsboro at Midway

Person at Northeast Guilford

No. 21 Overhills at Pine Forest

Rosewood at Princeton

Rocky Mount Prep at Southeast Halifax

South Creek at No. 9 Tarboro

NCISAA 2A 8-man playoffs:

1-Rocky Mount Academy vs 4-Faith Christian (Rocky Mount)

2-Arendell Parrott vs St. David’s

NCISAA 1A 8-man playoffs:

1-Halifax Academy vs 4-Bethel Christian

2-Northeast-Hobgood Co-op vs 3-Community Christian