High-SchoolNorth-Carolina: James Summers

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

December, 5, 2011
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

Page knocks off No. 1 Mallard Creek

November, 28, 2011
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
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
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.