High-SchoolNorth-Carolina: Jamal Marcus

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

November, 18, 2011
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.

Week 5 NC Football: Hillside, Southern battle for Durham supremacy

September, 16, 2011
We're five weeks into the football season, which is around the time the contenders begin to separate from the pretenders. Here's what to watch out for this weekend:

Hillside (3-1) at Southern Durham (2-2)
Southern Durham is desperately in need of a win after dropping two straight games, and as a result, out of the top 10. On the other hand, Hillside has played well since falling in its opener. The defending 4A champs have been led by running back Khris Francis on offense and All-State DL Jamal Marcus on defense, making for a balanced attack. Most of Marcus' focus tonight will be on Southern Durham QB Dorian Belcher. who has played well despite the Spartans' struggles. In last week's overtime loss to Dunbar, Belcher finished with 224 yards and three touchdowns. Southern will put up a fight, but it won't be enough to take down a surging Hornets squad.
My pick: Hillside 24, Southern Durham 21

Nash Central (4-0) at New Bern (3-1) Ever since defeating two-time defending 2A state champ Tarboro to start the season, Nash Central has been on a tear. Credit quarterback Jalen Hendricks, who has excelled as a dual threat with 658 total yards, six touchdowns and zero turnovers. New Bern's offense has been just as electric of late. After giving up 51 points in a loss to Havelock, the Bears have put up 114 points (!) in their last two games. Though I doubt they'll put points at the same ridiculous rate, expect the 4A Bears to extend their win streak against the 3A Bulldogs.
My pick: New Bern 30, Nash Central 24

Millbrook (3-1) at Broughton (1-2)
Millbrook should have the advantage in this contest, but the main intrigue comes at the tailback position. Of course, Millbrook boasts the nation's top running back in Keith Marshall, our cover boy for the ESPNHS September mag. Meanwhile, Broughton is led by recent Va. Tech commit Chris Mangus, who had 251 rushing yards and three scores in leading the Capitals to their first win of the season.
My pick: Millbrook 24, Broughton 17 (Oh, and I've got Marshall winning the yardage battle against Mangus)

Myers Park (3-1) at No. 2 Butler (3-1)
Who would have thought these two teams would have the same record when they met up? Myers Park is off to its best start since 2005, when it ended up reaching the state semifinals, but Butler is...well, Butler. Minus a few lapses, the Bulldogs have looked like their scary selves since losing to No. 1 Mallard Creek. Expect the four-headed offensive monster of QB Riley Ferguson, RB Josh Glisson and WRs Uriah LeMay and Zach Ferguson to keep chugging along.
My pick: Butler 40, Myers Park 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.

Jack Britt, WF-Rolesville hit with upset bug

August, 29, 2011
After watching another weekend of upsets on the gridiron, I teetered between two feelings:

-I know nothing when it comes to preseason rankings.
-If this keeps happening, will an "upset" as we know it still be an "upset" on the North Carolina football scene?

Eventually, I settled on the first notion.

Of course, it's early, so there's no need for teams to panic. But for perennial powers like Jack Britt (lost 21-14 to Lumberton in overtime) and Wake Forest-Rolesville (lost 20-17 in OT) who joined Butler, West Rowan and Hillside on the upset list, a wake-up call has been served.

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