While all four of our preseason number-one’s won in this opening week of the 2017 high school football season, we will see a shake-up atop the 2A rankings as top ranked Shelby struggled to put away a surgingFreedom squad, and thus have dropped a few spots in this week’s charts.
It was business as usual however for several of our top ranked teams as they showed us exactly who we thought they were and proved why they belong in the Dynamic Fitness & Strength Top-25 Power Rankings.
THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE
The defending 4AA champion Wake Forest Cougars fought off a strong effort from Millbrook on Friday, pulling away to capture a 34-7 victory in the opening week and furthermore showing us that they have what it takes to repeat as state champs.
Mallard Creek and Scotland both entered the season very highly ranked and with extremely high expectations. If Thursday night’s epic 28-21 barn-burner is any indication of the strength these teams possess, the remainder of the season should be scary for their upcoming opponents.
A few fans were scratching their heads when I ranked West Mecklenburg fifth in the preseason rankings, but after Saturday’s 42-19 shellacking of then fourth-ranked Vance, I think everyone is seeing the Hawks as a bona-fide contender.
Greensboro Dudley is on amazing run, the Panthers have won 53 of their last 57 games and despite losing a tremendous amount of starters from last year’s 4A title team, they ran over, through, and around Carveren-route to their opening week 49-0 victory.
It took a 20-yard pass from Chris Walton to Milan Howard with 27-seconds remaining for Charlotte Catholic to down NCISAA power Charlotte Christian 19-14, but that win over an equally dominant program showed us why the Cougars will be the favorites in what we assume will be the small 3A championships later this fall.
While South Point returns the bulk of their starters fromlast year’s 3A state championship team, they wasted no time in telling the rest of North Carolina that they’ll be a major force in the 2A ranks. While it nearly took until Saturday to finish because of all the weather delays, the Red Raiders capped off a 22-14 victory over 3A powers Crest.
Northeastern had their hands full playing up in class to take on 3A power D.H. Conley, but J.R. Walker, Treveon Freshwater and company helped propel the Eagles to a 55-49 overtime victory over the high flying Vikings.
East Duplin is expected to be a major factor in the 2AA race and they got off to a great start for 2017 defeating Richlands 78-7 behind the legs of Chris Benson, Jaylen Thomas, and six other Panthers who found the end zone in the rout.
David Gentry and his Murphy Bulldogs have one of those special senior heavy teams that could go down in the record books as one of the best in school history. On Thursday at Western Carolina University, they showed the rest of the 1A that they plan on repeating as state champions as they downed 2A power Pisgah 30-13.
MOVING UP IN THE RANKINGS
A.C. Reynolds is a team that I knew would be exceptional in 2017 but because of just how tough, and how top-heavy the 3A is due to the new realignment and several incredible 4A teams dropping down, we started them off at 14th, but they certainly proved to us all that they are a top-tier team by knocking off Southern Durham 50-9.
After visiting practice at Hoggard earlier this month, I really started to take notice of just how much talent they have over there on Shipyard Blvd. This is a strong, physical team that is nasty on defense, yet has a smart and precise quarterback in senior Josh Jones who was nearly perfect distributing the ball to his receivers in their 48-7 victory over Holly Springs.
A team to take notice of is Hickory Ridge. The Ragin’ Bulls defeated Concord for the first time in five years by a score of 34-15 on Friday and did so with one of the most electric offenses I’ve seen all summer. Led by senior quarterback Dylan Ratliff, he passed for 188 yards and added another 123 on the ground.
JUST ON THE BUBBLE
When it was looking like they may get blown out by Southern Nash, Green Hope exploded in the second half to make a strong showing despite losing 38-28. Jordyn Adams reeled in 8 catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
Things are really tight on the bubble in the 3A ranks. There are roughly 55-60 exceptionally strong teams in this classification and you could make a valid argument that anywhere from five to ten other teams could fill spots in the current Top-25 Power Rankings.
Just peeking in are Sun Valley, Eastern Alamance, Western Alamance, Marvin Ridge, Cleveland, West Carteret, Terry Sanford, Stuart Cramer,T.C. Roberson, Tuscola, Alexander Central, West Caldwell, Statesville, South Iredell, andSouthern Lee.
Just like in the 3A, the 2A Classification has a strong contingent of teams just outside ready to make their 2017 debut into the rankings. On the bubble we have Maiden,Patton, East Rutherford, Kinston, Fairmont, Anson County, Ledford, Roanoke Rapids, Wilkes Central, West Lincoln, and R-S Central.
And while the 1A isn’t as deep as some of the other classes, there are some strong programs just on the outside.