High-SchoolNorth-Carolina: Garner

Garner wins holiday tournament, enters Week 4 NC hoops rankings

January, 3, 2012
1/03/12
6:10
PM ET
After games ending Jan. 2

The football season ended in disappointment for Garner, as the Trojans lost their first and only game to Greensboro Page in the 4AA final. Now, their brothers on the hardwood appear determined not to let the same happen to them.

Garner emerged from a loaded field at the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational as the champion after holding off St. Raymond (N.Y.) behind MVP Dominique Reed's 20 points and eight rebounds. The Trojans also beat Kinston and Texas power Strake Jesuit along the way to take the No. 9 spot in the state rankings. Ravenscroft also found success at the tournament, repeating as champs of the Summit Hospitality bracket.

Olympic remained atop the rankings and gained a quality win by beating defending 4A champ West Charlotte, 61-58, in the Upward Classic title. Allerik Freeman earned MVP honors and Josh Smith had a monster game (20 points, eight boards) in a game that could be a preview of the 4A West Regional Final. The win pushes the Trojans to No. 36 in the POWERADE FAB 50 as they get ready for another test in No. 8 Harding on Friday.

Here are the rest of this week's rankings (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. Olympic (Charlotte) 13-0 (1)
Trojans picked up a quality win by beating defending 4A champ West Charlotte in the Upward Classic championship. Next up: MEGA 7 Conference battles with West Mecklenburg on Tuesday and No. 8 Harding on Friday.

2. Northside Christian (Charlotte) 12-0 (2)
Justin Gordon dropped 24 points and 8 rebounds in the semis before going for 15 and 8 in the final against Mooresville to lead the Knights to the Hardwood Classic title.

3. High Point Christian 14-0 (4)
Cougars cruised to Sheetz Holiday Classic championship behind Jackson Kent, who averaged 19.7 points across three wins.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly North Carolina hoops rankings.

Final North Carolina football rankings: Greensboro Page is No. 1

December, 5, 2011
12/05/11
1:25
PM ET
The road was anything but easy. Standing in Greensboro Page's way was two-time defending champ Butler, top-ranked Mallard Creek and a juggernaut in Garner. With each test, though, the Pirates plowed through the competition all the way to the Class 4AA title, the state's final No. 1 rankings and the No. 20 spot in the POWERADE FAB 50.

In the final, Page downed Garner, 35-21, behind dual-threat QB James Summers, who earned championship game MVP honors after throwing for two touchdowns and totaling 247 yards. Five first-half penalties did in the Trojans, who outgained the Pirates 156-83 in the first half but fell behind by 14 points and never recovered.

Coming in a close second is Scotland, which was nothing short of dominant in the 4A playoffs. Culminating with a 42-16 championship win against Porter Ridge, the Fighting Scots outscored their postseason opponents, 248-66.

Scotland did have mount a comeback after falling behind 13-0 in the first half to Porter Ridge, but behind fourth-down conversions and a pick-six, the Scots scored 42 of the game's next 45 points to secure their first title.

In other championship games: Northern Guilford beat Crest in the 3AA title game for the second straight year, Havelock dethroned three-time defending Class 3A champ West Rowan, and Tarboro won its third straight 2A title with a 39-36 win against Lincolnton behind Todd Gurley's 242 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

Here are how the final state rankings shake out:

1. Greensboro Page (15-0)
Earned top spot after downing two-time defending champ Butler, previous No. 1 Mallard Creek and finally, powerhouse Garner in the Class 4AA title game by the score of 35-21.

2. Scotland (15-0)
Capped undefeated season and dominant Class 4A playoff title run with 42-16 win against Porter Ridge.

3. Garner (15-1)
Trojans came up short in Class 4AA title game, falling 35-21 to Greensboro Page.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly North Carolina football rankings

North Carolina football championships preview

December, 2, 2011
12/02/11
1:48
PM ET
Preseason predictions, records, past history — throw them all out the window. This weekend, it will all come down to one game in deciding who's No. 1.

4AA: Greensboro Page vs. Garner (3 p.m. Saturday) All season long, both of these teams have quietly made a case for being the state's top team. In the last two rounds, Page knocked off Butler and Mallard Creek, teams that most figured had the best shot at winning the title. Meanwhile, Garner has blown up the scoreboard and blown out opponents, putting up 40-plus points in 10 of their last 11 games while letting the backfield of Juwan Moye and Demetrius Fairley run loose. Offensive firepower isn't a problem for either team, which makes defense the X-factor. Page has used late turnovers to rally in the last two weeks, while Garner stuffed a potent Jack Britt run game in the final quarter to pull out its semifinal win.
My pick: Garner 38, Greensboro Page 35

4A: Scotland vs. Porter Ridge (7 p.m. Saturday)
Jack Britt coach Richard Bailey told me about a month before the season that Scotland was going to be really good this season. I know I said throw out the predictions, but clearly the long-time coach was dead on. Scotland has used its talented QB Kwashaun Quick, wealth of rushers and impressive skill players on defense to run the table so far this year. Porter Ridge has a formidable QB in Lee McNeil and has the ability to pull out gritty wins. The Fighting Scots have had little trouble with their playoff opponents thus far, but Porter Ridge is likely to change that.
My pick: Scotland 31, Porter Ridge 27

3AA: Crest vs. Northern Guilford (7:30 p.m.Friday)
These two tangled in last year's title game with Northern Guilford prevailing 21-20 for the crown. The Nighthawks enter as the slight favorite again, riding a 13-game win streak and a formidable RB in T.J. Logan (2,264 rushing yards, 34 touchdowns). Crest star DL Jonathan Bullard and the rest of the Chargers D will need to be at their best to slow Logan. So will the Chargers offense, which has hit its stride after changing schemes midseason and found production behind Rhaheim Ledbetter, a Florida commit who has 1,027 rushing yards and 19 scores but is actually better at DB.
My pick: Crest 21, Northern Guilford 20

3A: Havelock vs. West Rowan (11 a.m. Saturday)
West Rowan is going for its fourth straight title, but unlike in years past, Havelock enters as the juggernaut. Havelock is averaging 51.5 points per game and has put up at least 62 in three of its four playoff wins. Quarterback Garrett Rowe has played a big part, throwing for 3,208 yards and 36 touchdowns. But for as serious as those stats are, West Rowan's experience and talent on both sides of the ball grants its the tools to slow down the Rams.
My pick: Havelock 42, West Rowan 35

2AA: Kinston vs. West Stokes (3 p.m. Saturday)
The road to this point hasn't been easy for either team. Kinston has needed several cardiac comebacks to down Bunn and Reidsville by a combined five points while West Stokes used a furious fourth-quarter comeback to erase a 12-point lead and beat Shelby in the semis. West Stokes has a fiesty defense led by sack machine Tyler Bullard. but Kinston counters with several playmakers in QB C.J. Bradshaw and running back Shaheed Swinson.
My pick: West Stokes 24, Kinston 17

2A: Tarboro vs. Lincolnton (11 a.m. Saturday)
Tarboro is back in the title game for the fourth straight year in hopes of winning its third straight crown. All of you are familiar with standout tailback Todd Gurley from his ESPNHS diary and it's safe to say Lincolnton's plan will be to stop the senior. Gurley has fought through injury to top the 2,00-yard mark and power the Vikings to wins, including a late score in last week's semifinal round against South Columbus. The run game will be a concern for the Tarboro D, too, which has to find a way to thwart Lincolnton's tricky triple-option offense.
My pick: Tarboro 21, Lincolnton 18

1AA: Ayden-Grifton vs. Swain County (11 a.m. Saturday)
Ayden-Grifton pulled off the major upset last week, downing two-time defending state champ Wallace-Rose Hill, led by QB Brandon Larry (242 total yards, two score). Will this be enough to knock off a surging Swain County squad?
My pick: Ayden-Grifton 24, Swain County 21

1A: Jones County vs. Murphy (7:30 p.m. Friday)
Murphy began the year 0-3, but with a dual-threat QB that can pile up the stats in Seth Curtis (more than 3,200 total yards), the Bulldogs are back in the title game for the second straight year. Jones County, which is making its first championship-game appearance, will be looking for the upset.
My pick: Murphy 34, Jones County 25

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

Page knocks off No. 1 Mallard Creek

November, 28, 2011
11/28/11
1:37
PM ET
Greensboro Page appears to have a serious case of deja vu — and that hasn't been a bad thing.

A week after dethroning two-time defending Class 4AA champ Butler, the underdog Pirates once again capitalized on late penalties and turnovers to erase a double-digit deficit and down the state's top-ranked team in Mallard Creek, 41-27.

Mallard Creek built a 12-point lead in the first quarter, but after Page rallied back, Blake Hickman returned a fumble recovery for a touchdown to put the Pirates up 33-27 in the third. A James Summer touchdown pass and an interception in the end zone helped the Pirates hold the lead for good and advance to the Class 4AA title game against Garner.

*Garner held off Jack Britt, 34-27, behind a gritty defensive effort. With the score knotted at 27 with 10 minutes to play, Garner stuffed the Buccaneers on their last three possessions. Meanwhile, the Trojans pulled ahead for good on a Vincent Jeffries' touchdown pass to Tim Thorb with 1:27 left on the clock. Jeffries finished the night with 268 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

*In the 4A semifinals, Porter Ridge advanced to its first state championship by narrowly beating Mooresville, 34-28. Mooresville nearly pulled off a late comeback after scoring with 1:34 left and recovering the ensuing onside kick. But Chris Duffy came up with a big interception with 48 seconds to clinch the victory. The Indians will face 14-0 Scotland, which had no trouble beating New Bern by a count of 61-28. The Fighting Scots broke out early behind three turnovers and a 26-point first quarter, earning them the chance to vie for their first state title.

*In the 3AA semis, the team that started off far from perfect (Crest at 1-2) upset the team that entered the game perfect (Charlotte Catholic at 13-0). Behind RB/DB Rhaheim Ledbetter's 268 rushing yards, two scores and interception, the Chargers beat Charlotte Catholic, 35-28. The Cougars hurt their own cause with five turnovers and three penalties that negated touchdowns. Crest, which reached the final last year, moves on to face Northern Guilford, which beat Hunt, 35-6.

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

Football teams look to punch ticket to state final

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
4:32
PM ET
What's good is Turkey Day without a heavy dose of playoff football? Think of these games as a dessert to the leftovers you eat on Friday because with a trip to the state final on the line, these matchups are bound to be intense.

Mallard Creek at Greensboro Page
Most guessed Butler would be in this game instead of Page, but the fact that the Bulldogs aren't says a lot about this Pirates squad. James Summers leads Page against the state's top team in Mallard Creek, which hasn't been terribly tested in the playoffs until now. The Pirates can't afford to fall behind by 20 like they did last week, as the Mavericks' explosive offense behind RB Jela Duncan and WR Jamel Harbison has been known to make opponents pay for critical mistakes and offensive droughts. With both offenses high-powered, defensive play and turnovers could decide this game.
My pick: Mallard Creek 35, Greensboro Page 34

Jack Britt at Garner
Garner has been dominant all season, winning all but two of their games by at least 20 points. Perennial power Jack Britt has caught fire of late, shutting out four of its last five opponents behind a stout defense. Needless to say, the Trojans offense vs. the Buccaneers defense will be the key matchup in this one, with Jack Britt likely to stack the box often in hopes of slowing running backs Juwan Moye and Demetrius Fairley.
My pick: Garner 35, Jack Britt 24

Crest at Charlotte Catholic
When these two met in the playoffs last year, Crest had its way in a 31-10 win. Expect this year's to be a bit closer, especially with Charlotte Catholic entering as the favorite. Sophomore RB Elijah Hood has been the surprise catalyst for the Cougars' offense, but Crest has defensive stalwarts in DL Jonathan Bullard and DB Rhaheim Ledbetter. Still, the Chargers have struggled against the run in their three losses this year. The key will be Crest's ability to capitalize on offense if/when it slows down the Cougar offense.
My pick: Charlotte Catholic 28, Crest 24

New Bern at Scotland
On paper, Scotland is the favorite. The Fighting Scots offense can score in a hurry behind QB Kwashaun Quick and a stable of running backs. Defensively, they are just as dominant and haven't allowed two touchdowns in their last six games. New Bern has made it this far by mostly outscoring opponents, although last week the Bears capitalized on three late fumbles by New Hanover. Perhaps the Bears wouldn't mind turning this one into a shootout.
My pick: Scotland 42, New Bern 31

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.
For the first time in three years, there will be a new Class 4AA champion.

With two-time defending champ Butler up 20 points in its third-round matchup with Greensboro Page, it appeared most local fans would get what they wanted: a rematch between Butler and Mallard Creek in the next round. But the Bulldogs' dream matchup vanished after a nightmarish second half.

Page capitalized on the Bulldogs' penalties and five turnovers to reel off 34 unanswered points and secure a 40-26 win on Friday. The Pirates, who were led by QB James Summers' 248 total yards and five touchdowns, will face Mallard Creek in this week's 4AA state semifinals.

Summers scored twice on runs to open the second half and tie the game before a one-yard TD pass to Orlando Hatfield gave the Pirates the lead for good with 4:48 to play. Meanwhile, Butler junior QB Riley Ferguson threw three picks in the final 15 minutes to thwart the Bulldogs' chances for a comeback.

Needless to say, Butler dropped out of the latest POWERADE FAB 50, while Mallard Creek moved up to No. 13 in the national rankings.

Garner will take on Jack Britt in the other 4AA semifinal after both teams rode their rushing attacks to victory. Garner was led by tailback Juwan Moye's 285 total yards and three scores in a 42-21 win against previously undefeated Leesville Road. The Pride got 402 total yards from do-everything player Braxton Berrios, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Trojans' quick start.

Meanwhile, Jack Britt ran the ball 60 times for 333 yards to push past Middle Creek, 28-14. After starting 2-2, the Buccaneers have won nine straight, including four straight shutouts prior to last week's third-round win.

A new 4A champion will be crowned as well after top-ranked Scotland knocked off defending champ Hillside. The Fighting Scots' were paced by the three-headed monster of QB Kwashaun Quick and tailbacks Tony McRae and Caison Murphy, who accounted for all seven of the the team's scores in the 35-7 win. Next up will be New Bern, which downed New Hanover, 31-20.

On the other hand, West Rowan has bounced back from a slow start to make sure there won't be a new champion in the 3A ranks. The three-time defending champs have won their last six games by an average of nearly 20 points, but face quite the test in a 13-1 Burns squad that has similar success on the scoreboard of late.

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.

Butler vs. Greensboro Page highlights third round of NC football playoffs

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
4:07
PM ET
The third round of the playoffs is about to get underway, meaning the stakes are higher and competition is much more intense. Here are the games to watch:

Butler at Greensboro Page
Butler faces its biggest test since opening the season against Mallard Creek. Greensboro Page has been dominant all year behind dual-threat QB James Summers and tailback Drew Rogers. The Pirates' defense has also been impressive, giving up less than eight points per game. But of course, this unit will have its hands full with Butler's plethora of offensive weapons. Whichever team wins the turnover battle is likely to come out on top.
My pick: Butler 35, Greensboro Page 31

Leesville Road at Garner
One team will emerge with its first loss of the year and it's hard to tell who in this evenly-matched contest. Creating offense shouldn't be a problem for either team in this matchup, what with Garner averaging 48.1 points and Leesville Road averaging 54.1 points. In other words, simply one defensive stop could make the difference in this one.
My pick: Leesville Road 38, Garner 35

Hillside at Scotland
Hillside faces a major roadblock in its bid to repeat as champs when it faces Scotland tonight. The Fighting Scots have been unbeatable this season behind QB Kwashaun Quick and their athletic skill players. Hillside has obviously been here before, though, and boasts a star on both sides of the ball in RB Khris Francis and DL Jamal Marcus.
My pick: Scotland 27, Hillside 20

A.L. Brown at Charlotte Catholic
A.L. Brown enters this contest with hopes of proving its a viable contender, but as has been the case for five of the past seven years, Charlotte Catholic has plans of ending the Wonders' playoff run. Charlotte Catholic has gotten a surprise boost from sophomore tailback Elijah Hood this season, while the Wonders were routed in their one contest against a ranked team this year (41-13 loss to Porter Ridge).
My pick: Charlotte Catholic 34, A.L. Brown 21

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.

Second round of North Carolina football playoffs brings familiar results

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
6:32
PM ET
A weekend filled with rematches ended up as a major case of deja vu:

*Butler beat Independence for the fifth straight time, riding Riley Ferguson's four touchdowns to a 42-20 win.

*Leesville Road continued to light up the scoreboard, beating Cap 8 rival Wake Forest-Rolesville for the second time in three weeks. Braxton Berrios proved unstoppable, scoring six times in the 49-20 win. Next up: undefeated Garner.

*Middle Creek did it again, using a late charge to push past Fuquay-Varina, 34-20. For their second third-round trip in school history, the Mustangs will face Jack Britt, which has shut out its last four opponents.

*The second time was a bit easier for Asheville, as it beat rival Erwin, 26-7, to keep its undefeated season in tact. Brandon Williams led the way with 123 rushing yards and two scores. Next up: Crest.

This past weekend's outcomes sets up a juicy slate of third-round playoff matchups. Check back here Thursday to catch a preview.

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.

First round of North Carolina football playoffs get underway

November, 3, 2011
11/03/11
4:26
PM ET
Throw all of the regular-season records out because we're starting all over again. The North Carolina football postseason is here and this is when it all counts.

You know all the usual suspects/contenders, like Mallard Creek, Butler, Greensboro Page and Garner, but for the always tricky first round, here are five games to watch out for this weekend:

Berry Academy at Marvin Ridge
This season has taken a slightly different turn than some may have anticipated for these teams. 2011 was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Marvin Ridge, but the Mavericks looked plenty strong, going 9-1 with its lone loss coming to No. 7 Porter Ridge. Berry Academy, on the other hand, was far from a disappointment, but with All-State players Germone Hopper and Nick Dawson starring on offense, defense and special teams, the Cardinals probably hoped for better than a 7-3 campaign. But that's what makes this one intriguing. The Mavericks D will have to stop Hopper from making big plays at WR and on special teams, while the Cardinals need to strike early and often.
My pick: Berry Academy 24, Marvin Ridge 21

Hoggard at New Hanover
One week has passed since these two squads last faced each other. New Hanover got the best of Hoggard for the first time since 1995, winning an intense 13-7 battle. New Hanover was led by a stingy defense and two touchdowns by Trevon Brown. Based on its history, Hoggard knows how to topple New Hanover, so it's safe to say neither team is taking the other lightly.
My pick: Hoggard 14, New Hanover 10

Laney at Wakefield
These two teams faced off in the first round last year, with Wakefield coming away with a 31-14 win on the road. This season, Wakefield is the home team and again the favorite behind a high-powered offense that put up at least 42 points in every game but one this season. Laney's defense will be focused on Wakefield QB Connor Mitch, who threw for 46 TDs and just six interceptions this year. But the Buccaneers can also light up the scoreboard (seven games of at least 40 points), meaning this one could be a shootout.
My pick: Wakefield 42, Laney 31

Lumberton at Cary
Only time will tell if Cary caught Lumberton at the right time or the worst time. After starting 7-0, including a big win against Jack Britt, Lumberton enters the playoffs on a three-game losing streak. Led by its defense, Cary won its last four games to finish 8-2. Will Lumberton be motivated enough to end its skid, or will Cary capitalize on the weaknesses exposed in the last three weeks?
My pick: Cary 17, Lumberton 14

Northwest Guilford at Richmond
Last year, these two met in the playoffs and Richmond used a big fourth-quarter to pull away for a 45-21 win. Things probably won't be so easy this time around for the Raiders, though. After a dominating 5-0, the Raiders sputtered at the end, losing twice and barely escaping defeat in two others. The production of Northwest Guilford tailback Reid Baxter (961 yards, 15 TDs) will be vital in attacking a Richmond defense that's been known to bend against capable rushers. RB/DB Steve Houston will be the key on both ends for the Raiders.
My pick: Richmond 27, Northwest Guilford 21

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.

Burns, South Point on cusp of Week 6 NC rankings

September, 26, 2011
9/26/11
11:53
AM ET
After games ending Saturday, Sept. 24

The rich seem to keep getting richer in North Carolina. Mallard Creek and Butler continued to establish their dominance with routes of Lake Norman and Rocky River, respectively. Meanwhile, Richmond, Page, Scotland and Porter Ridge all had time to rest before looking to continue their undefeated runs this week. Thanks to heavy rain showers, No. 8 Garner also got some rest before facing East Wake on Monday, but the Trojans now have two games in one week.

All of these teams should keep a watchful eye on their rearview mirror, though. A.L. Brown appears to be back on track, shutting out its second straight opponent in Central Carrabus. Plus, Burns looked impressive in a 27-26 win against previously undefeated Freedom while South Point continues to roll behind star fullback Troy Leeper.

On the national front, Mallard Creek moved up to No. 27 while Butler re-entered the top 40 at No. 39 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings are in parentheses):

1. Mallard Creek (Charlotte) 5-0 (1)
Behind Jela Duncan's 192 rushing yards and four touchdowns, the Mavericks blanked Lake Norman, 55-0. Next up: Vance.

2. Butler (Matthews) 4-1 (2)
Sparked by Uriah LeMay's 56-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game, the Bulldogs racked up 312 rushing yards en route to a 52-6 win against Rocky River. A matchup with East Mecklenburg is next.

3. Richmond (Rockingham) 5-0 (3)
The surging Raiders got some time to regroup during their bye week before facing Hoke County this Friday.

Click here for the full POWERADE North Carolina weekly football rankings.

While others rest, conference battles begin in Week 5 NC football

September, 23, 2011
9/23/11
1:51
PM ET
Four of the top 10 teams have byes this week, including Richmond, Page, Scotland and Porter Ridge. Everybody's gotta rest sometime and with a 20-0 combined record, they've earned it. Still, the games must go on, and there are several good conference matchups on slate.

Let me start off by giving some props where props are due. South Point's Troy Leeper has topped the 1,000 yard mark through just five games, doing it all from the fullback position. Fresh off last week's career high 285 yards, Leeper has amassed 1,085 yards and 17 touchdowns to help the Red Raiders put up 47 points per game during their 5-0 start. For more, check out this Charlotte Observer story on the senior phenom.

Now for those enticing games I was talking about...

East Wake (2-3) at No. 8 Garner (5-0)
East Wake has lost three straight games. Garner is undefeated and boasts the powerful backfield tandem of Demetrius Fairley and Juwan Moye, who have combined for 1194 yards. Sounds like a mismatch, and yes, the Trojans should win. But remember three weeks ago, when the Warriors upset defending Class 4AA runners-up Wake Forest-Rolesville? Yeah, I'm sure Garner does, too.
My pick: Garner 38, East Wake 20

Freedom (5-0) at Burns (4-1)
Behind talented QB Michael Helms, Freedom is off to its best start in a decade and is a favorite to win the loaded SMAC conference. But to do, the Patriots must get by a Burns team that has won the last two meetings. The Bulldogs have several solid wins and have their own playmaker in tailback Darius Ramsey. Should be a close one, but I think the more battle-tested Burns pulls this out.
My pick: Burns 28, Freedom 24

Panther Creek (4-1) at Fuquay-Varina (4-1)
Panther Creek has rolled to a 3-0 start in the Tri-Nine conference, boasting tailback David Mayaka and his 610 rushing yards. Meanwhile, Fuquay-Varina has a three-headed monster in rushers Carlton Bridges and Ricky Ferguson and quarterback Evan McNeil. While their records are the same, what separates these two squads is their strength of schedule. The Catamount's four wins have come against teams with losing records after losing 48-0 to undefeated Leesville Road. On the other hand, the Bengals have proven their mettle in a win against previously undefeated Cary and a overtime loss to Middle Creek.
My pick: Fuquay-Varina 30, Panther Creek 17

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.

Porter Ridge enters top 10 after big win

September, 12, 2011
9/12/11
6:18
PM ET
The bottom half of the rankings saw quite a shakeup, as Jack Britt fell to surging Scotland and Southern Durham lost its second straight game. As a result, Garner, which has piled up a ton of points during a 4-0 start, and Porter Ridge, which silenced many doubters with a 41-13 rout of A.L. Brown, made their debut in the top 10 this week.

On the national scope, Mallard Creek moved up five spots to No. 33 during its idle week while Butler rejoined the POWERADE FAB 50 in the No. 43 slot.

Here's how things shake out after a pretty wild weekend (Last week's ranking's are in parentheses):

1. Mallard Creek (Charlotte) 3-0 (1)
Mavericks return from bye week with matchup against Mooresville.

2. Butler (Matthews) 2-1 (2)
Almost let big lead slip away in win against Vance, but Bulldogs appear to be hitting their stride. Next up: 3-1 Myers Park.

3. Richmond (Rockingham) 4-0 (3)
Raiders keep on winning and keep on scoring, easily defeating South View 36-21. A bout against West Forsyth is up next.

Click here for full POWERADE State Weekly Rankings

Scotland triumphes, A.L. Brown loses in Week 4 football

September, 12, 2011
9/12/11
12:25
PM ET
Blame it on the third quarter.

Up until then, No. 7 Jack Britt was sitting on a 9-7 lead and appeared to have the tools necessary to knock off the state's fifth-ranked team. But just as Buccaneers coach Richard Bailey warned against in our Thursday conversation/Friday preview, Scotland's skill players eventually went to work.

Quarterback Kwashaun Quick led the charge, posting 159 of his 284 total yards during the 12-minute period to produce 17 unanswered points and a 27-15 win. Following a lost fumble by the Buccaneers, Quick threw a 28-yard touchdown and ran for a 58-yard score in a 45-second span to push Scotland ahead.

Bailey's hope of mixing it up against the Fighting Scots with a strong rushing attack didn't come to fruition. Jack Britt mustered just 85 yards on 28 carries as a team, sending the Buccaneers to their second loss on the year.

Porter Ridge 41, No. 6 A.L. Brown 13
Skill players also proved to be a problem for Porter Ridge, but an entirely different reason. Six starters sat out Friday's contest, further pushing the advantage to A.L. Brown — or so it seemed.

Pirates quarterback Lee McNeil picked up the slack, passing for 212 yards and one touchdown and rushing for 145 yards and two scores during the big win. McNeil's favorite target on the night proved to be the team's kicker, Stephen Muscarello, who caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Any questions surrounding the mettle of the 4A Pirates, who have played 2A and 3A schools up to this point, were answered Friday. After Wonders standout Damien Washington (215 rushing yards and two scores) cut the deficit to 14-13, Porter Ridge reeled off 27 straight points to make for the final margin.

No. 2 Butler 45, Vance 28
For the first half, Butler looked like its old, dominant self, building a 31-0 lead and outgaining the Cougars 188-8 in total yardage. But a Vance pick-6 before halftime and big return after the break cut the deficit to 31-14. Ultimately, though the Bulldogs' firepower was too much, from Uriah LeMay (118 receiving yards, three total touchdowns) and Josh Glisson (216 rushing yards, two scores) to the Ferguson brothers (Zach: two interceptions; Riley: 267 passing yards, three TDs). Speaking of LeMay, check back later this week for a story on the star junior wideout.

South Point 45, Burns 42 (OT)
A matchup of two top 3A teams lived up to the hype, as South Point won a thriller in overtime. Fullback Troy Leeper paced the Red Raiders with 245 yards and five touchdowns, but kicker Dayton Rogers made the difference, kicking the decisive 27-yard field goal in overtime.

No. 9 Wake Forest-Rolesville 30, Southeast Raleigh 27
Southeast Raleigh QB David Washington put on a first-quarter clinic, racking up 100 passing yards and two touchdowns. But interceptions by Tevin Barnes (a pick-6) and Nighee Walker fueled the Cougars in their comeback victory.

Garner 35, Middle Creek 21
For three quarters, it was smooth sailing for Garner as it piled up 28 points to Middle Creek's zero. But after turning two consecutive stops into touchdowns, it appeared the Mustangs would put together a comeback victory for the second straight week. Garner held on though, blocking a punt to set up an easy score and its fourth win in as many games.

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
9/09/11
1:36
PM ET
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."

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