High-SchoolNorth-Carolina: Lee McNeil

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.

Undefeated squads collide in Week 6 NC football

September, 30, 2011
9/30/11
12:15
PM ET
Several teams will walk away from the sixth week of North Carolina football with their first loss, making for some intriguing matchups.

The first such game went down Thursday, as Leesville Road (6-0) outlasted Wakefield (6-1) in a 67-58 shootout. Wolverines quarterback Connor Mitch threw for seven touchdowns and nearly 600 yards, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Pride's sibling tandem Austin and Braxton Berrios.

Here are a few other gridiron bouts to watch for this weekend:

Marvin Ridge (5-0) at No. 9 Porter Ridge (5-0)
This Union County matchup could be a shootout, as both teams can pile up points in a hurry. Before its week, Porter Ridge scored a season-low 10 points in a tight win against Providence, but with Lee McNeil at quarterback and a week's rest, the Pirates are poised to return to their high-scoring ways. Marvin Ridge, whose signature win came earlier in the season against a solid Ardrey Kell squad, has topped 30 points in each of its last three games.
My Pick: Porter Ridge 38, Marvin Ridge 31

Burns (5-1) at Chase (6-0)
Just a week after taking down previously undefeated Freedom, 27-26, Burns will look to hand another team its first loss in Chase. Bulldogs running back Darius Ramsey will be the focus for a Chase defense that's surrendered an average of 14.7 points per game this season.
My Pick: Burns 24, Chase 21

Laney (5-0) at Hoggard (5-0)
This crosstown rivalry has a little more spice this season with both Laney and Hoggard entering the contest without a loss. Hoggard has won nine of their last 10 meetings, but Laney has been lighting up the scoreboard this year, averaging more than 47 points per contest. Much of that production has come from Buccaneers quarterback Mike Sheehan, who has thrown for 963 yards, 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Hoggard DB Tevin Jackson (two interceptions) will have his eye on Sheehan and his favorite target, Tevin Clay (442 receiving yards and eight TDs).
My pick: Laney 42, Hoggard 28

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.

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.

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