High-SchoolNorth-Carolina: Lumberton

First round of North Carolina football playoffs get underway

November, 3, 2011
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.

Scotland, Porter Ridge move up in Week 10 NC football rankings

October, 24, 2011
Results as of Sunday, October 23

As we head into the final week of the regular season, there's some movement in the North Carolina football rankings.

The first comes as Scotland leapfrogs Greensboro Page into the No. 3 spot. The Pirates did their part by winning again (a 21-0 victory against Dudley), but the Fighting Scots have proven invincible against a tougher schedule. Scotland will get another test when it faces Richmond in the finale, but in the last two weeks, they've outscored solid Hoke County and Lumberton squads by a count of 82-7. Hard to ignore that sort of dominance.

The second shake-up comes lower in the rankings, as Porter Ridge overtook Richmond for the No. 8 slot. Ever since the Raiders fell to Hoke County, they've struggled to fully bounce back, winning their last three games against Purnell Swett, Lumberton and Pinecrest by an average margin of nearly four points. Mind you, the Raiders won their first five games by nearly 30 points each.

On the other hand, Porter Ridge has been nothing short of impressive during its 9-0 run, winning all but one its games by at least 24 points. The Indians will face a formidable opponent in Sun Valley this week, but their performance up to this point deserves a bump up in the rankings.

Nationally, Mallard Creek stood pat at No. 21 and Butler moved up to No. 32 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Here's how this week's state rankings shake out (last week's rankings are in parentheses):

1. Mallard Creek (Charlotte) 9-0 (1)
Mavericks D led the way in 42-0 win against West Charlotte, scoring on two of its four forced turnovers. Next up: Hough.

2. Butler (Matthews) 8-1 (2)
Riley Ferguson threw four touchdowns as the Bulldogs racked up 504 yards in a 52-14 win against South Meck. Next up: rival Independence.

3. Scotland (Laurinburg) 9-0 (4)
The Fighting Scots move up a spot after passing yet another stiff test with a 35-7 win against Lumberton. Next up: No. 9 Richmond.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly North Carolina rankings

SEC powers Scotland, Lumberton battle in Week 9 NC football

October, 20, 2011
With an undefeated record and momentum on its side (average of 46.5 points in last four games), few could blame No. 4 Scotland for coasting through its final two games of the season. But with 7-1 Lumberton and No. 8 Richmond on slate as well as the SEC title up for grabs, the remaining road is no joke for the Fighting Scots.

Lumberton lost its first game of the season last week to Richmond, but the Pirates' mettle is real after wins against Jack Britt and Hoke County. The three-headed rushing attack of Daniel Robinson, Trevor Lewis and Zhrome Carmichael (a combined 1,288 yards and 12 TDs) will be a handful for the Fighting Scots, as Lumberton looks to control the clock.

But as was mentioned before, Scotland has its own powerful offense, led by dual-threat QB Kwashaun Quick. The Fighting Scots' skill players on both sides of the ball have been a handful for opponents and are a threat to break open any contest with a big gain or turnover.

Lumberton will need to strike early and often to keep up with Scotland. But of course, that's much easier said than done.
My pick: Scotland 38, Lumberton 24

No. 6 Garner (9-0) at Southeast Raleigh (7-1)
There's no shortage of offensive weapons in this matchup. For Garner, Demetrius Fairley leads a rushing attack that averages nearly 334 yards per game. But Southeast Raleigh is anchored by quarterback David Washington, who can hurt you on the ground (972 rushing yards, 15 TDs) and through the air (1,657 yards, 21 scores). The one thing going in Garner's favor is Southeast Raleigh's defense, which has been known to surrender big plays to opposing running backs. But with a top seed in the playoffs on the line, expect the Bulldogs to hunker down.
My pick: Garner 42, Southeast Raleigh 35

Berry Academy (6-2) at Olympic (8-1)
The MEGA 7 conference winner could be decided in this matchup -- but the champion isn't even playing. After Charlotte Catholic beat Berry Academy last week, the Cougars and Olympic are now tied for first in the conference, making Friday's game a must-win for Olympic.

For the Trojans, the focus will be on containing Berry WR/KR Germone Hopper, who still managed to gain 187 all-purpose yards in last week's loss. Quarterback Cason Beatty will lead Olympic's offensive attack, which has put up at least 42 points in three of its last four games. Jarrett Harris has also emerged as a threat of late, rushing for 151 yards in last week's win against Harding.
My pick: Olympic 28, Berry Academy 24

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.
Results as of Saturday, Oct. 15

Sophomores aren't supposed to play like Elijah Hood did in last Friday's big game between Charlotte Catholic and Berry Academy. Too bad for Berry Academy that Hood didn't get that memo.

The Cougars running back continued his impressive campaign, rushing for 179 yards and four touchdowns to push his team to a 48-26 win in MEGA 7 play. The effort was enough to overcome 187 all-purpose yard by Berry Academy receiver/kick returner Germone Hopper and position the Cougars for a conference title showdown in the season finale against Olympic.

Meanwhile, Richmond looked like its old self after an up-and-down two weeks. The Raiders knocked off previously undefeated Lumberton, forcing three late turnovers to pull out the 27-22 win.The outcome also revives the intrigue surrounding the season finale between Richmond and No. 4 Scotland on Oct. 28.

Nationally, Mallard Creek and Butler both moved up one spot in this week's POWERADE FAB 50, with the Mavericks taking over the No. 21 slot and the Bulldogs now at 35th.

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

1. Mallard Creek (Charlotte) 8-0 (1)
Mavericks easily took care of Hopewell by the score of 65-6. Next up: West Charlotte.

2. Butler (Matthews) 7-1 (2)
After trailing 10-7 early, the Bulldogs reeled off 35 straight points in 42-10 win against Providence. Riley Ferguson threw for five touchdowns. Next up: South Mecklenburg.

3. Greensboro Page 8-0 (3)
The Pirates put together their best offensive output of the season, blanking Southern Alamance, 70-0. Next up: Dudley.

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

Butler survives scare, starts off intriguing Week 7 NC football

October, 7, 2011
The majority of the weekend contests haven't even started, but with all the drama and scoring in Butler's 43-40 win against Ardrey Kell, the game of the week is probably already in the books.

After three quarters, Butler held what appeared to be a comfortable 35-17 lead, but in one period, Ardrey Kell showed why it's entered many conversations in the North Carolina prep football landscape. Suddenly, with 3:45 to play, the Knights had closed the gap to 35-33, with a recovered onside kick, a gritty Josh Duggan rush TD and a slew of Butler penalties sparking the comeback.

A pick-6 by Ian Dibble gave the Knights' a 40-35 lead with two minutes left and great hope for a huge upset of their Southwestern 4A rivals. But the Ferguson brothers proved ice cold, with Riley finding his brother Zach for a 50-yard gain and 12-yard touchdown strike to seal the win. Check out the Charlotte Observer story for more details of this barnburner.

This game could speak volumes for how the 4A playoffs are decided. It could be the type of win Butler needs to push them past Mallard Creek and to a third straight title. Or it could provide the confidence for Ardrey Kell to pull a playoff run and upset similar to what Vance did last year when it shocked Mallard Creek. Only time will tell.

Here are two other games that we can only hope are just as exciting:

Lumberton (6-0) at Hoke County (6-1)
Both of these teams have pulled off big wins, with Lumberton downing Jack Britt and Hoke County fresh off a huge upset of previous No. 3 Richmond. Hoke County is fueled by tailback Detrez Newsome, who's ran for 780 yards and 13 touchdowns this year. But the senior will be coming up against a stingy defense in Lumberton that has allowed just 9.2 points per game. Heck, the Pirates have beaten Seventy-First by the score of 9-8 and South View by a count of 8-2. Hoke County's defense isn't quite as stout, but as they say, the best defense is a good offense.
My pick: Hoke County 21, Lumberton 17

Wakefield at Wake Forest-Rolesville
I expect these two to light up the scoreboard in a game that could mirror the Butler-Ardrey Kell matchup. Why? For one, Wakefield is averaging nearly 50 points per game and is coming off a contest in which it scored 58 points and still lost! Wake-Forest Rolesville has plenty of offensive weapons, too, with tailback Chris Love and Petey Williams (two special teams touchdowns last week). That puts on the onus on the defenses to make key stops to decide this close matchup.
My pick: Wake Forest-Rolesville 38, Wakefield 35

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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