High-SchoolNorth-Carolina: Wake Forest-Rolesville

Second round of North Carolina football playoffs brings familiar results

November, 14, 2011
A weekend filled with rematches ended up as a major case of deja vu:

*Butler beat Independence for the fifth straight time, riding Riley Ferguson's four touchdowns to a 42-20 win.

*Leesville Road continued to light up the scoreboard, beating Cap 8 rival Wake Forest-Rolesville for the second time in three weeks. Braxton Berrios proved unstoppable, scoring six times in the 49-20 win. Next up: undefeated Garner.

*Middle Creek did it again, using a late charge to push past Fuquay-Varina, 34-20. For their second third-round trip in school history, the Mustangs will face Jack Britt, which has shut out its last four opponents.

*The second time was a bit easier for Asheville, as it beat rival Erwin, 26-7, to keep its undefeated season in tact. Brandon Williams led the way with 123 rushing yards and two scores. Next up: Crest.

This past weekend's outcomes sets up a juicy slate of third-round playoff matchups. Check back here Thursday to catch a preview.

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.

Rematches abound in second round of NC football playoffs

November, 10, 2011
Second chances are often hard to come by in life, but for several North Carolina football teams, they will get just that in the second round of the playoffs this weekend.

Butler vs. Independence
Never mind that Butler has won the last four meetings with rival Independence, or even that he Bulldogs downed the Patriots, 36-26, just two weeks ago. Whenever these two teams meet in the playoffs, it's big — so big, that's it's been moved to the bigger stadium at Providence as was the case when they meet in 2009.

Mind you, the last time Butler lost in the playoffs, it was to Independence, a juggernaut that once won 109 games, has seven state titles to its name and is returning to prominence after last year's losing campaign.

Also be mindful that Butler is on a mission to reach its third straight title game in hopes of avenging their earlier loss to Mallard Creek and win its third consecutive 4AA crown. Lots of storylines and lots of potential for fireworks in this contest.
My pick: Butler 35, Independence 27

Wake Forest-Rolesville at Leesville Road
Two weeks ago, Leesville Road stopped the Cougars from having at least a share of the Cap 8 title for the first time in six years. But the night wasn't full of great memories for the Pride, as quarterback Austin Berrios tore his ACL. Still, the offense didn't miss a beat last week, scoring nine times and racking up 561 rushing yards in a win against Broughton. Wake Forest-Rolesville figures to make several defensive adjustments to slow the Pride's explosive offense, but the question is will it be enough?
My pick: Leesville Road 38, Wake Forest-Rolesville 35

Fuquay-Varina at Middle Creek
You remember the first time these two met this year, as Middle Creek overcame a 13-point deficit to win an overtime thriller. Since then, Fuquay-Varina has been flawless, winning eight straight games behind a solid running attack led by Carlton Bridges (195 yards, two scores last week). The Bengals' defensive effort could prove key, though, as QB David Salmon tore through the secondary for four scores in their last meeting.
My pick: Fuquay-Varina 31, Middle Creek 21

Erwin at Asheville
The door to the 3AA championship opened a bit wider for these two teams when Weddington upset South Point in the first round last weekend. And best believe that both Erwin and Asheville will do everything in their power to avoid being the next team to go home. During Asheville's undefeated regular season, Erwin gave the Cougars their toughest test before falling 21-20. Erwin will have to prove more stout against Asheville's powerful rushing attack behind Tysean Holloway and Deveron Roberts if it wants to pull off the next big upset.
My pick: Asheville 28, Erwin 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.

Two new teams in final North Carolina football regular season rankings

October, 31, 2011
Believe it or not, it's been 11 weeks since Mallard Creek and Butler faced off in a makeshift championship game for the season opener. Now it's playoff time and plenty of teams have emerged with the Mavericks and Bulldogs as prime contenders the state crown.

Leesville Road and Havelock entered the final regular season rankings with dominant performances to cap their undefeated regular seasons. Leesville Road easily downed previously ranked Wake-Forest Rolesville to win the Cap 8 title, but it lost QB Austin Berrios to a knee injury on the game's opening kickoff, potentially making the road to a state title a bit tougher. Havelock, which beat Burns earlier this year for its signature win, appears to be the favorite in 3A after outscoring opponent by an average of 48.6 to 14.3.

The rankings will return after the postseason for one final evaluation of the season, but stay tuned to ESPNHS North Carolina for playoff updates.

Click here for a full playoff pairing list from the Charlotte Observer.

Nationally, Mallard Creek moved up to No. 20 while Butler stood pat at No. 32 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Here are the final regular season rankings (last week's rankings are in parentheses):

1. Mallard Creek (Charlotte) 10-0 (1)
Jela Duncan scored five touchdowns as the Mavericks beat Hough, 51-14, and won their third straight I-MECK title. The No. 2 seeded Mavericks will begin the 4AA playoffs against South Mecklenburg.

2. Butler (Matthews) 9-1 (2)
The Bulldogs beat Independence, 38-26, to earn the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. They will host Hoke County this week in the 4AA playoffs.

3. Scotland 10-0 (3)
The Fighting Scots continued their dominance, beating previously ranked Richmond, 42-7. Top-seeded 4A squad will take on Harnett Central in first round of playoffs.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly North Carolina football rankings

Conference titles on the line in Week 10 North Carolina football

October, 27, 2011
Some are looking ahead to the playoffs, but several regular-season finales will have a intense postseason feel with conference titles being on the line. Here are the games to look out for in Week 10 North Carolina football:

No. 9 Richmond at No. 3 Scotland
The SEC title and playoff implications will be on the line in this much-anticipated matchup between top-10 teams. The Fighting Scots enter the contest with great momentum, winning their last four games by nearly 30 points each. All four of those opponents (Purnell Swett, Pinecrest, Lumberton and Hoke County) are ones that Richmond has either lost to or barely defeated in the same span.

The firepower that characterized Richmond at the start of the season has faded some, but there's still playmaking ability in standouts like Steve Houston. The Raiders will have to focus on slowing down Scotland QB Kwashaun Quick, who has picked apart defenses with his dual threat ability.
My pick: Scotland 35, Richmond 24

No. 5 Charlotte Catholic at Olympic
After both teams topped a solid Berry Academy team, they now end the regular season with a makeshift MEGA-7 conference championship. The difference could be made on the defensive end, as Charlotte Catholic has allowed just 14.3 points per game. And when the Cougars D is clicking, it allows sophomore RB Elijah Hood to break big plays like he has all season.
My pick: Charlotte Catholic 27, Olympic 20

No. 7 Wake-Forest Rolesville (9-1) at Leesville Road (9-0)
Few teams in the nation, let alone the state, can score like Leesville Road. The Pride has put up 55.7 points per game and has racked up 63 or more points on three occasions. But they will face their stiffest competition yet this weekend when Wake Forest-Rolesville comes to town. The Cougars can light up the scoreboard, too, and continue to find emerging stars with each passing week. Defense could be at a minimum in this contest, but a big turnover could be the deciding factor.
My pick: Wake Forest-Rolesville 38, Leesville Road, 35

Crest at No. 10 South Point
After a slow start, Crest has emerged as the intimidating squad that most thought the Chargers would be, winning seven straight behind an evolving offense and defensive playmakers Rhaheim Ledbetter and Jonathan Bullard. This duo will be tested, though, by powerful fullback Troy Leeper, who has had his way against most defenses this season.
My pick: South Point 34, Crest 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.

Wake-Forest Rolesville moves up in Week 8 NC football rankings

October, 10, 2011
After games of Saturday, Oct. 8

A few top teams got quite a scare this past week. You already know about Butler's wild win against Ardrey Kell last Thursday, and Wake Forest-Rolesville and Richmond endured similar cardiac comebacks.

Wake Forest-Rolesville saw it fall behind 13-0 in the first half of a contest against a talented Wakefield squad. But a renewed focus on the run game as well as a blitzing defense to throw off Wakefield QB Connor Mitch got the Cougars rolling in the second half for a 14-13 victory.

On the other hand, Richmond was the early aggressor in the its matchup with Purnell Swett, but the Raiders' 14-point halftime lead vanished behind an explosive Rams offense that ran just three plays in the third quarter and scored 21 points. The two teams went back and forth until Steve Houston saved the day. The Raiders DB stuffed Juwan Jones at the goal line on the Rams' two-point try as time expired to preserve Richmond's 42-41 win and avoid a second straight loss.

Although the outcome was the same for both, the fact that Wake Forest-Rolesville beat a 6-2 Wakefield squad while Richmond struggled with a 3-4 Purnell Swett team is why the Cougars move up a spot in this week's rankings.

Nationally, both Mallard Creek and Butler moved up in the POWERADE FAB 50, as the Mavericks are now at No. 22 while the Bulldogs sit at No. 36.

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

1. Mallard Creek (Charlotte) 7-0 (1)
The Mavericks posted their second shutout in three weeks, this time blanking North Mecklenburg, 63-0, behind Jela Duncan's five touchdowns. Next up: Hopewell.

2. Butler (Matthews) 6-1 (2)
The Bulldogs survived a scare against Ardrey Kell, using a last-minute drive that ended with a Zach Ferguson touchdown to pull out a 43-40 victory. A matchup with Providence is up next.

3. Greensboro Page 7-0 (3)
The Pirates just keep on rolling, as they beat Ben L. Smith, 42-12, last week. Next up: Southern Alamance.

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.

While others rest, conference battles begin in Week 5 NC football

September, 23, 2011
Four of the top 10 teams have byes this week, including Richmond, Page, Scotland and Porter Ridge. Everybody's gotta rest sometime and with a 20-0 combined record, they've earned it. Still, the games must go on, and there are several good conference matchups on slate.

Let me start off by giving some props where props are due. South Point's Troy Leeper has topped the 1,000 yard mark through just five games, doing it all from the fullback position. Fresh off last week's career high 285 yards, Leeper has amassed 1,085 yards and 17 touchdowns to help the Red Raiders put up 47 points per game during their 5-0 start. For more, check out this Charlotte Observer story on the senior phenom.

Now for those enticing games I was talking about...

East Wake (2-3) at No. 8 Garner (5-0)
East Wake has lost three straight games. Garner is undefeated and boasts the powerful backfield tandem of Demetrius Fairley and Juwan Moye, who have combined for 1194 yards. Sounds like a mismatch, and yes, the Trojans should win. But remember three weeks ago, when the Warriors upset defending Class 4AA runners-up Wake Forest-Rolesville? Yeah, I'm sure Garner does, too.
My pick: Garner 38, East Wake 20

Freedom (5-0) at Burns (4-1)
Behind talented QB Michael Helms, Freedom is off to its best start in a decade and is a favorite to win the loaded SMAC conference. But to do, the Patriots must get by a Burns team that has won the last two meetings. The Bulldogs have several solid wins and have their own playmaker in tailback Darius Ramsey. Should be a close one, but I think the more battle-tested Burns pulls this out.
My pick: Burns 28, Freedom 24

Panther Creek (4-1) at Fuquay-Varina (4-1)
Panther Creek has rolled to a 3-0 start in the Tri-Nine conference, boasting tailback David Mayaka and his 610 rushing yards. Meanwhile, Fuquay-Varina has a three-headed monster in rushers Carlton Bridges and Ricky Ferguson and quarterback Evan McNeil. While their records are the same, what separates these two squads is their strength of schedule. The Catamount's four wins have come against teams with losing records after losing 48-0 to undefeated Leesville Road. On the other hand, the Bengals have proven their mettle in a win against previously undefeated Cary and a overtime loss to Middle Creek.
My pick: Fuquay-Varina 30, Panther Creek 17

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.

Stock is rising for Hood, Newsome

September, 15, 2011
It's time for our weekly North Carolina All-State Football Stock Watch. This time around, we look at a sophomore tailback who plays like anything but an underclassman and another running back who kills opponents with his speed.

UP — Elijah Hood, Charlotte Catholic RB
The Cougars are surging up the state rankings and Hood is big reason why. The sophomore running back needed just six carries to rack up 145 rushing yards and three touchdowns in last Friday's 49-14 rout of Charlotte Latin.

DOWN — Phillip Williamson, Jordan LB
It's been a rough season for the Falcons' defense, which has given up an average of 33 points per contest during a 1-3 start. Some of that onus falls on Williamson, the unquestioned leader of the Jordan D. Should the Falcons turn things around, it will start with the UNC commit and his defensive teammates. But in fairness, Jordan's schedule has been tough, taking on No. 7 WF-Rolesville and a tough Leesville Road squad.

UP — Detrez Newsome, Hoke County RB
A stomach bug slowed Newsome in the Bucks' lone loss of the season, but since then, it's the Bucks' opponents who have had a hard time stomaching Newsome. The junior exploded in last week's 42-12 win against Sanderson, rushing for 210 yards and four touchdowns. Newsome showed his speed with two scores of 70 yards or more, boosting the Bucks to their 3-1 start.

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
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.

Jack Britt vs. Scotland highlights Week 4 football

September, 9, 2011
For the first few weeks, I've used this space to preview the big football games during the upcoming weekend, which I hope you enjoy. But I think it's time to spice things up. So now, along with the usual preview, I'm going to offer my bold prediction for each game's outcome, giving you a chance to either congratulate my prophetic ability or (more likely) bash my attempt to channel Swami-like powers.

No. 7 Jack Britt (2-1) at No. 5 Scotland (3-0)
Before the season, Jack Britt coach Richard Bailey raved to me about Scotland's athletic ability, saying they will definitely be a team to watch this year. When I talked to Bailey on Thursday, his tune hadn't changed too much, except this week he was looking through a bit more critical of an eye, as the Buccaneers travel to face the Fighting Scots.

"[Scotland] has some of the best skill people I've seen in a long time. It's like preparing for Butler a couple years ago in the state title game," Bailey said. "Their offensive line and defensive line aren't as dominant, but their skill guys are incredible.

"You might be able to beat them up front, but nobody will outskill them."

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Mangus, Love highlight NC All-State stock watch

September, 7, 2011
It's time for the All-State Stock Watch, as we look at All-State football players who saw their potential value rise or fall over the past week. A player could have performed well in a game, gotten a big-time scholarship offer, broken his leg or just had an off game. (Hey, it happens to the best of us.)

Here are the movers and shakers from week three:

UP — Chris Mangus, Broughton RB
Despite his team losing its second straight game to start the season, last weekend didn't turn out so bad for Mangus. The senior tailback did all he could in the Capitals' 37-13 loss to Garner on Thursday, rushing for 170 yards and two touchdowns. A day later, Mangus made his college decision, committing to a Virginia Tech program that is known for churning out solid running backs.

DOWN — Jonathan Bullard & Rhaheim Ledbetter, Crest DL & DB
Yes, it takes 11 players to make up an entire defense, but with these two top recruits leading the Chargers attack, some have been surprised by Crest's 1-2 start. The Chargers have surrendered 42 points in their two losses. Still, there's a silver lining. Crest's first loss came against a tough Burns squad and last week's occurred in a 9-3, defensive battle versus rival Shelby. Ledbetter, a Florida recruit, and the uncommitted Bullard have shown glimpses of their immense talent, and an offense that features seven returning starters should soon be fully acclimated to their new run-first spread scheme.

DOWN — Chris Love, Wake Forest-Rolesville RB
After losing a shocker to East Wake on a fake field goal in double overtime, the Cougars were in search of a spark to get back on track. Love provided it, rushing for 145 yards and two touchdowns in WF-Rolesville's 37-19 win against Northern Durham. A similar effort from the junior will be welcomed and needed against a solid Southeast Raleigh squad on Friday.

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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