Tar Heel State's Top-25 Games of Week-1

For many, the hot and humid Dog Days of Summer are just something that has to be endured as we move along through the calendar towards the cooler autumn months, but for others, it signals the birth of a new high school football season and renewed dreams for state championship runs, rivalry game wins, and watching our young boys giving it all on the fields of battle on Friday nights.

There’s just something special about high school football, and just like the magical sense of newness that you feel watching Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season, the first week of the high school football season is equally special.

The first games always signals a renewed pride in your community, even those teams that traditionally struggle to put together winning seasons will pack their stadiums as fans come out to cheer on their local team to victory.

So go out, buy a ticket and support your local team this week.  Even if you’re not a die hard fan, an alumnus of your town school or even originally from the community that you now live in, go out and support these young boys, their coaches, and everyone involved from the cheerleading squads, the marching bands, the boosters, and just everyone that helps orchestrate these wonderful community events.

If you want to know all the games that will take place this week, click here to view the Week-1 schedule, but if you are someone who wants to see the biggest games each week, lets take a look at the Top-25 games of this opening week of action.

 

Top 25 Games of the Week

25. Cuthbertson at Porter Ridge  -  It’s hard to believe that these two Union County schools that are only 17 miles apart haven’t played each other in school history, but they’ll do battle for the first time this Friday night.

Porter Ridge could still be considered a sleeper team in the 4A but I don’t think they’ll surprise anyone this year as they return 3-year starting senior quarterback Grayson McCall.

24. Southside at Ayden-Grifton – Two of the better programs in Eastern North Carolina, A-G is coming off a 9-4 record while Southside posted a 10-5 mark in 2016. 

This is the first time these two programs have met and you have to applaud these two coaches for going out and scheduling tougher teams, it will certainly pay off later in the year.

23.  Millbrook at Wake Forest - Wake Forest is the entering 2017 as the overall top team in the state and rightfully so after clamming their first state title.  Athletically this may be the best overall combination of size and speed in the state and now that they’ve gotten over the hump and won their first title, head coach Reggie Lucas’s squad could be primed to win a few more.

However, Millbrook is the kind of team that could pose a program for the Cougars, head coach Clarence Inscore is one of the best there is and they’ve got enough speed in the backfield to create some problems for an aggressive defense.

22. Laney at Pinecrest – Two very solid 4A programs, both had great seasons a year ago and are both ready to take that next step.  While both teams had solid playoff runs a year ago, they also both have significant holes to fill due to graduation.

21. Plymouth at Tarboro – These two teams could very well be the Eastern Bracket representatives in the 1A and 1AA state championship games in December.  While Tarboro will most certainly out-class Plymouth in numbers, don’t count out head coach Robert Codyand his Plymouth squad in this clash of the Vikings.

20. Page at Davie County – This game will be historical on several fronts, but none more so than the fact that this will be opening night for Davie County in their brand new stadium at the new Davie County High School location.

While both teams have a ton of questions and lost some great talent from last year’s spectacular runs, I have a feeling this will be a true donnybrook of a game and will feature two of the best defensive units in North Carolina.

19. North Davidson at Mount Tabor – There is a lot of new in this game.  Two new head coaches at the helm, new faces at several key spots on the field, but also both teams are in new classifications as North has dropped from 4A to 2A and Mount Tabor has dropped from 4A to 3A.

While this will have the looks of an old Central Piedmont 4A clash, these two teams will go on to do very good things in their respective conferences later on this season.

18.  Harding at Hough– A few years ago this game would have been an afterthought, but in two short years, Rams head coach Sam Griner has scrapped and clawed his way out of the 4A cellar and coached up his young group of players that could be on the verge of cracking the top tier teams in the state.

Hough is always a strong program but with a new head coach leading the way in Matt Jenkins who came over from Concord where he was an assistant, this could make for an interesting opening week contest.

17. Mitchell at Erwin – There may not be another game in the state this week that has quite the contrast in styles as this one.  The Mountaineers have established themselves as one of the top programs in 1A and they’re going to try and physically smash you on each down, but their players will be tested on Friday as they have to face Erwin, who under new coach Rodney Pruett will try and throw the ball all over the field.

16. West Forsyth at Lake Norman – West is thought to be one of the top teams in the 4A and they’ll be tested early as they travel to Mooresville to take on Rob McNeely’s Lake Norman Wildcats.

Lake Norman had a strong showing at the Carolina Preps Jamboree defeating Richmond County and they’ll have to continue to play their A-game if they wanted to defeat the Titans.   This is also a rematch of last year’s 4AA playoffs second round game that saw West defeat LKN by a score of 35-17.

15. J.M. Robinson at Hibriten – These are two programs that are continuing to go upwards, Robinson could be one of the better 3A teams in the state and Hibriten continues to impress under head coach Clay Lewis.

This early season matchup will be a solid test for these two teams that both hope to be playing after Thanksgiving. 

14. Vance vs. West Mecklenburg – Two of the hottest programs in Charlotte, this game has the potential to be a barn-burner and a game that could put nearly 70 combined points on the scoreboard.  This one could come down to whoever has the ball last.

This game will be played on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Uptown Charlotte. 

13. East Wilkes at East Surry – Two of the absolute best 1A programs in the state, this clash of Cardinals programs will be well worth the price of admission, and possibly one of those games where you’ll feel the need to give them more money as you exit the gates because of how exciting it could be.

If you like old-time, small town football, this one could fit the bill.

12. Pisgah at Murphy – Two of the best programs in Western North Carolina, this one will be a jewel of a game.  After having seen Murphy a few weeks ago, I’m convinced that this team could compete with many 4A programs, but I’m pretty sure that Pisgah head coach Brett Chappell and his Bears won’t shy away from the challenge.

11. Cape Fear at Clinton – Talk about two of the best programs in the southeastern part of North Carolina, this game will certainly showcase a lot of speed and talent.  Cape Fear will be looking to start another state championship run while Clinton looks to gain experience for their relative young, but talented group of players.

10. West Craven at Havelock – Anytime these foes hit the field, you can expect fireworks but on this night, the action on the field could be secondary to the feelings felt all in attendance as they honor the late Wilbur Sasser who passed away a few weeks ago.

If you can’t make it to this game, you’ll certainly want to surf the net for some photos of the field as Havelock head coach Caleb King has something very special in store for his end zones.

9. Shelby at Freedom – When it was announced that Havelockhead coach Jim Bob Bryant was leaving for Freedom, it sent shockwaves across the state.  He’ll have his first opportunity to make a splash with his new team as they face perennial powers Shelby, winners of the last four 2A state championships.

While Freedom’s stadium is quite large, I’d suggest getting there early if you want a good seat.

8. Southern Durham at A.C. Reynolds – Talk about a road trip, Southern Durham is going clear across the state and traveling up the mountain to take on head coach Shane Law’s Rockets. 

This is two of the best 3A programs in the state and quite possibly could feature two state championship contenders.

7. Southern Nash at Green Hope – Talk about two programs that could do some special things, both of these teams have aspirations of playing after Thanksgiving.  You always applaud coaches who are willing to go out and schedule hard teams early on in the non-conference slate of their schedules, and while one team will certainly lose on the field, the fans in attendance will be the real winners of this game.

6. New Hanover at J.H. Rose – I feel very confident that this could be a preview of 3rd or 4th round playoff game later this fall.  Both of these teams are very capable of scoring points in bunches and this could be a very entertaining game.

5.  Charlotte Christian at Charlotte Christian – Talk about a great game, these are two of the absolute best programs, not just in Charlotte, but in the entire state.  If you like good, hardnosed football and want to see two of the best coaches in North Carolina go head-to-head, you’ll certainly want to check this one out. 

4. East Forsyth at Sanderson – This game will be played on Saturday at Cardinal Gibbons High School so it should offer everyone a chance to get out and see two of the best teams in the 4A.  Sanderson could be that sleeper team that comes out of nowhere and makes it to a state championship.  

3.  South Point atCrest – This is always a very good, hard fought, and entertaining game.  South Point is coming off of a state championship and Crest is always a contender to win it all, this game should be well worth the price of admission. 

Speaking of tickets, you’ll certainly want to get to the stadium early if you want a seat, this one will be a standing room only kind of game.

2. D.H. Conley at Northeastern – Both of these teams are capable of winning a state championship and I don’t think anyone would be surprised if either was playing in the final game of the season. 

Aside from the great game we’re certain to see, if you want to get a sneak peek of next year’s college players on the high school gridiron, go see this game because there will be quite a few high profile recruits suiting up for both teams.

1. Mallard Creek at Scotland – This is the game that everyone has been waiting all offseason for and given the fact that its being played on a Thursday night, fans from across the state will be flocking to Pate Stadium to see two of the top 4A programs face off.  If you want a seat, I suggest getting there very early!

About Chris Hughes

Chris Hughes is the senior football analyst and founder of CarolinaPreps.com. A life-long student of the game, he brings a unique perspective of the game from multiple angles, including that of a former coach. His work has been featured both locally and nationally, including FNF Magazine, Scout.com, and ESPN U.