High-SchoolNorth-Carolina: David Salmon

Rematches abound in second round of NC football playoffs

November, 10, 2011
Second chances are often hard to come by in life, but for several North Carolina football teams, they will get just that in the second round of the playoffs this weekend.

Butler vs. Independence
Never mind that Butler has won the last four meetings with rival Independence, or even that he Bulldogs downed the Patriots, 36-26, just two weeks ago. Whenever these two teams meet in the playoffs, it's big — so big, that's it's been moved to the bigger stadium at Providence as was the case when they meet in 2009.

Mind you, the last time Butler lost in the playoffs, it was to Independence, a juggernaut that once won 109 games, has seven state titles to its name and is returning to prominence after last year's losing campaign.

Also be mindful that Butler is on a mission to reach its third straight title game in hopes of avenging their earlier loss to Mallard Creek and win its third consecutive 4AA crown. Lots of storylines and lots of potential for fireworks in this contest.
My pick: Butler 35, Independence 27

Wake Forest-Rolesville at Leesville Road
Two weeks ago, Leesville Road stopped the Cougars from having at least a share of the Cap 8 title for the first time in six years. But the night wasn't full of great memories for the Pride, as quarterback Austin Berrios tore his ACL. Still, the offense didn't miss a beat last week, scoring nine times and racking up 561 rushing yards in a win against Broughton. Wake Forest-Rolesville figures to make several defensive adjustments to slow the Pride's explosive offense, but the question is will it be enough?
My pick: Leesville Road 38, Wake Forest-Rolesville 35

Fuquay-Varina at Middle Creek
You remember the first time these two met this year, as Middle Creek overcame a 13-point deficit to win an overtime thriller. Since then, Fuquay-Varina has been flawless, winning eight straight games behind a solid running attack led by Carlton Bridges (195 yards, two scores last week). The Bengals' defensive effort could prove key, though, as QB David Salmon tore through the secondary for four scores in their last meeting.
My pick: Fuquay-Varina 31, Middle Creek 21

Erwin at Asheville
The door to the 3AA championship opened a bit wider for these two teams when Weddington upset South Point in the first round last weekend. And best believe that both Erwin and Asheville will do everything in their power to avoid being the next team to go home. During Asheville's undefeated regular season, Erwin gave the Cougars their toughest test before falling 21-20. Erwin will have to prove more stout against Asheville's powerful rushing attack behind Tysean Holloway and Deveron Roberts if it wants to pull off the next big upset.
My pick: Asheville 28, Erwin 24

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 »

Middle Creek wins a thriller, Charlotte games on hold

September, 6, 2011
Mother Nature has shown its ugly side in the past two weeks. First, it was a rare earthquake followed by Hurricane Irene. And last weekend, torrential thunderstorms pounded down on the Charlotte area, postponing all of the football games until Tuesday.

As a result, our statewide rankings will come out Wednesday this week. But that doesn't mean good football wasn't play in other parts of North Carolina, starting with a thriller between Middle Creek and Fuquay-Varina.

By the look of things, Middle Creek wasn't supposed to win Friday's matchup against Fuquay-Varina. The Mustangs had often finished second to their Tri-Nine Conference rivals on several occasions, and in the fourth quarter of their Friday matchup, Fuquay-Varina held what seemed to be a commanding 34-21 advantage.

But Middle Creek showed why it could a formidable force this season, using a flurry of offense and a goal-line stand to pull out a 48-47 double-overtime win.

Quarterback David Salmon (four touchdowns) oozed with poise in the Mustangs' comeback, leading his team on two scoring drives in the final four minutes -- the last of which ended with a touchdown pass to Curtis Burston that tied the score at 34.

In overtime, fate appeared on the Bengals' side, as the road team used a hook-and-lateral play to convert a fourth down into a touchdown on the opening overtime possession. The teams then traded scores until the second overtime, when Bengals fullback Carlton Bridges was stuffed on a two-point conversion try, giving the Mustangs a huge win in their conference opener.

*Jack Britt bounced back from a Week 2 loss in a major way, beating Southern Durham, 42-28. The Buccaneers were led by QB Mark McRae (three total touchdowns) and Lindon Watkins (222 rushing yards and one score). Southern Durham put up a fight behind Akeem Judd's 203 rushing yards and three scores, but it wasn't enough to overcome a quick start by the Buccaneers, who jumped out to a 28-7 lead in the first half.

*Millbrook continued its recent success, riding its defense to a 26-9 win against East Wake team that upset Wake Forest-Rolesville in week two. Keith Marshall had 157 yards and a touchdown for the Wildcats before sitting out for most of the second half.

*Damien Washington continued his tear, scoring twice on a touchdown pass and catch in A.L. Brown's 35-14 win against Rocky River. That's eight touchdowns through three games for the senior tailback, who gives the Wonders an ability to score in a hurry.

*West Rowan saw another win streak end after their Friday contest against Salisbury. But this time, it wasn't the Falcons who were on the short end. Behind Dinkin Miller's 132 rushing yards and touchdown, the Falcons beat the defending 2AA champs, 37-28, snapping the Hornets' 12-game win streak.

*Wallace Rose-Hill saw its 30-game string of wins snapped Friday in a 48-7 loss to New Hanover. The defeat is nothing for the defending 1A champs to hang their head over, though. New Hanover, which was led by 336 passing yards from QB Bates Taylor, is a 4A school.

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.