High-SchoolNorth-Carolina: Chris Love

Butler survives scare, starts off intriguing Week 7 NC football

October, 7, 2011
The majority of the weekend contests haven't even started, but with all the drama and scoring in Butler's 43-40 win against Ardrey Kell, the game of the week is probably already in the books.

After three quarters, Butler held what appeared to be a comfortable 35-17 lead, but in one period, Ardrey Kell showed why it's entered many conversations in the North Carolina prep football landscape. Suddenly, with 3:45 to play, the Knights had closed the gap to 35-33, with a recovered onside kick, a gritty Josh Duggan rush TD and a slew of Butler penalties sparking the comeback.

A pick-6 by Ian Dibble gave the Knights' a 40-35 lead with two minutes left and great hope for a huge upset of their Southwestern 4A rivals. But the Ferguson brothers proved ice cold, with Riley finding his brother Zach for a 50-yard gain and 12-yard touchdown strike to seal the win. Check out the Charlotte Observer story for more details of this barnburner.

This game could speak volumes for how the 4A playoffs are decided. It could be the type of win Butler needs to push them past Mallard Creek and to a third straight title. Or it could provide the confidence for Ardrey Kell to pull a playoff run and upset similar to what Vance did last year when it shocked Mallard Creek. Only time will tell.

Here are two other games that we can only hope are just as exciting:

Lumberton (6-0) at Hoke County (6-1)
Both of these teams have pulled off big wins, with Lumberton downing Jack Britt and Hoke County fresh off a huge upset of previous No. 3 Richmond. Hoke County is fueled by tailback Detrez Newsome, who's ran for 780 yards and 13 touchdowns this year. But the senior will be coming up against a stingy defense in Lumberton that has allowed just 9.2 points per game. Heck, the Pirates have beaten Seventy-First by the score of 9-8 and South View by a count of 8-2. Hoke County's defense isn't quite as stout, but as they say, the best defense is a good offense.
My pick: Hoke County 21, Lumberton 17

Wakefield at Wake Forest-Rolesville
I expect these two to light up the scoreboard in a game that could mirror the Butler-Ardrey Kell matchup. Why? For one, Wakefield is averaging nearly 50 points per game and is coming off a contest in which it scored 58 points and still lost! Wake-Forest Rolesville has plenty of offensive weapons, too, with tailback Chris Love and Petey Williams (two special teams touchdowns last week). That puts on the onus on the defenses to make key stops to decide this close matchup.
My pick: Wake Forest-Rolesville 38, Wakefield 35

Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Jack Britt vs. Scotland highlights Week 4 football

September, 9, 2011
For the first few weeks, I've used this space to preview the big football games during the upcoming weekend, which I hope you enjoy. But I think it's time to spice things up. So now, along with the usual preview, I'm going to offer my bold prediction for each game's outcome, giving you a chance to either congratulate my prophetic ability or (more likely) bash my attempt to channel Swami-like powers.

No. 7 Jack Britt (2-1) at No. 5 Scotland (3-0)
Before the season, Jack Britt coach Richard Bailey raved to me about Scotland's athletic ability, saying they will definitely be a team to watch this year. When I talked to Bailey on Thursday, his tune hadn't changed too much, except this week he was looking through a bit more critical of an eye, as the Buccaneers travel to face the Fighting Scots.

"[Scotland] has some of the best skill people I've seen in a long time. It's like preparing for Butler a couple years ago in the state title game," Bailey said. "Their offensive line and defensive line aren't as dominant, but their skill guys are incredible.

"You might be able to beat them up front, but nobody will outskill them."

Read More »

Mangus, Love highlight NC All-State stock watch

September, 7, 2011
It's time for the All-State Stock Watch, as we look at All-State football players who saw their potential value rise or fall over the past week. A player could have performed well in a game, gotten a big-time scholarship offer, broken his leg or just had an off game. (Hey, it happens to the best of us.)

Here are the movers and shakers from week three:

UP — Chris Mangus, Broughton RB
Despite his team losing its second straight game to start the season, last weekend didn't turn out so bad for Mangus. The senior tailback did all he could in the Capitals' 37-13 loss to Garner on Thursday, rushing for 170 yards and two touchdowns. A day later, Mangus made his college decision, committing to a Virginia Tech program that is known for churning out solid running backs.

DOWN — Jonathan Bullard & Rhaheim Ledbetter, Crest DL & DB
Yes, it takes 11 players to make up an entire defense, but with these two top recruits leading the Chargers attack, some have been surprised by Crest's 1-2 start. The Chargers have surrendered 42 points in their two losses. Still, there's a silver lining. Crest's first loss came against a tough Burns squad and last week's occurred in a 9-3, defensive battle versus rival Shelby. Ledbetter, a Florida recruit, and the uncommitted Bullard have shown glimpses of their immense talent, and an offense that features seven returning starters should soon be fully acclimated to their new run-first spread scheme.

DOWN — Chris Love, Wake Forest-Rolesville RB
After losing a shocker to East Wake on a fake field goal in double overtime, the Cougars were in search of a spark to get back on track. Love provided it, rushing for 145 yards and two touchdowns in WF-Rolesville's 37-19 win against Northern Durham. A similar effort from the junior will be welcomed and needed against a solid Southeast Raleigh squad on Friday.

Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.