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Football teams look to punch ticket to state final

11/23/2011

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.