Jon Stout

Football Friday Challenge Guide: Week 1

Posted August 14

Holly Springs hosted a jamboree with Broughton, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Northwood and Wake Forest on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. (Photo By: Nick Stevens/HighSchoolOT.com)

— The Football Friday Challenge is back for another exciting season. Make your picks each for a chance to win prizes.

Here’s a look at the matchups for Week 1:

Garner vs. Clayton

Clayton has an opportunity to avenge it’s 50-0 loss to rival Garner in Week 1 of the regular season. The Comets started last season hot with a 6-1 start, but the team finished with a six-game losing streak to end the year.

Garner will replace starters from last year’s squad – Colin Eaddy, Matt Butler, Braxton Brokenborough, Dalton Counts – but this season’s Trojan squad is primed for another big season.

Clayton will start Austin Cagle at quarterback this season, and the team will also return standout wide receiver Devin Carter, who finishes last season with 1,167 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns.

D.H. Conley vs. Northeastern

Northeastern showed its skill Saturday at the HighSchoolOT Jamboree with a 28-0 drubbing of Southern Durham, but it’s Week 1 matchup will be a tough task.

The Eagles host a D.H. Conley team that went 8-4 last season, led by quarterback Holton Ahlers, who threw for 4,503 yards and 51 touchdowns last year. The ECU commit also added 911 yards rushing and 15 scores on the ground.

Northeastern dropped the 2A title game to John A. Holmes last season by two scores. The Eagles return two 1,000-yard rushers from the runner-up squad, Traveon Freshwater and J.R. Walker.

Rocky Mount vs. Middle Creek

Middle Creek lost two of the better playmakers in the area last season by graduation – quarterback Dominique Shoffner and safety Daniel Jackson.

Shoffner was responsible for 52 of the Mustangs’ touchdowns en route to the third round of the 4AA state playoffs last season. Jackson led Middle Creek with 97 tackles and 10 interceptions.

With a new quarterback at the helm, Middle Creek will face a Gryphons team that finished runner up at the 3A championship game last season.

Rocky Mount also has holes to fill, with the departure of senior quarterbacks McKenzy Wright and Shabios Lynch, and running back BJ Sanders and Deangelo Collins.

The Gryphons do return rising senior running back Charlie Williams, who rushed for 850 yards and seven touchdowns last year.

Southern Nash vs. Green Hope

New Green Hope head coach David Green will get his first test against Southern Nash, who finished last season with a 12-1 record.

Southern Nash won 12 straight games last season before falling to Rocky Mount, 27-21, in the second round of the 3A state playoffs.

The Firbirds return its two biggest playmakers from last season, Kendrick Bell and Bam Knight. The pair combined for 2,403 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns.

Willie Taylor will start at quarterback for Green Hope. Taylor will have one of the best wide receiver pairings in the area in his second season under center, Jordyn Adams and Blake Watson.

Millbrook vs. Wake Forest

Defending 4AA state champion Wake Forest will face former Cap 8 foe Millbrook in Week 1.

Wake Forest remains the top-ranked team in the HighSchoolOT Top 20 poll, and for good reason. The Cougars return many of its starters from last season and look primed to make another run at the title.

Millbrook was shut out, 37-0, by the Cougars last season but get a shot a knocking off the defending champs in its inaugural test of the 2017 season.

The Wildcats lost Larry Rountree III to graduation last season, but return junior tailback Chris Twitty and wide receiver Tyler Snead.

Cape Fear vs. Clinton

Cape Fear finished last season on a sour note, getting shut up 54-0 by Dudley in the 4A state title game.

The Colts are one of the top-ranked teams in the state, but the Cape Fear may be without star quarterback Justice Galloway-Velazquez for Week 1. Galloway-Velazquez is still recovering from offseason ankle surgery.

Clinton breezed through the regular season last year with 11-straight wins, but the Dark Horses ultimately fell victim to Northside-Jacksonville , 21-14, in the third round of the 2AA state playoffs.

The Dark Horses will return quarterback Kris Williams but will have to replace Ryheem Skinner at the tailback position. Skinner led Clinton with 1,564 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns last season.

Holly Springs vs. Hoggard

Hoggard, ranked among the HighSchool OT Top 20, will take on Holly Springs in Week 1.

Quarterback Josh Jones returns for the Vikings. Jones tallied 2,289 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. Tailback Tony Allen is also back for Hoggard, who garnered 973 rushing yards and a team-leading 17 rushing touchdowns.

Holly Springs will feel the loss of Broderick Taylor, who accounted for 17 of the Golden Hawks’ touchdowns.

The Golden Hawks do return one of the top recruits in the area, wide receiver Bryce Wheaton, who has committed to play at West Virginia next year.

Panther Creek vs. Heritage

Panther Creek has one of the toughest draws in Week 1, with a road matchup against Heritage.

The Catamounts made the playoffs with a 5-6 record last season but was met in the first round by eventual state champion Wake Forest.

Heritage looks to continue its momentum from last year into this season. Like Panther Creek, the Huskies, also fell to Wake Forest in the postseason, but it was a third-round defeat for Heritage.

The Huskies have some of the top talent in the area, including three players that have committed to Atlantic Coast Conference programs – quarterback Gunnar Holmberg (Duke), running back Ricky Person (NC State) and defensive lineman Joe Kane (Virginia Tech).

Linebacker Drake Thomas and defensive end Joseph Boletepeli are also two standouts that have garnered several Division-I scholarship offers..

Apex vs. Broughton

A rematch of 2016’s Week 1 for Apex and Broughton. The Capitals took care of business last season with a 61-36 win against the Cougars last season, but Broughton won only one more game the rest of the way.

Like Broughton, Apex also struggled last season with only two wins. Both of Apex’s wins were by eight points or less.

Fuquay-Varina vs. Terry Sanford

Terry Sanford returns starting quarterback Christian Janye this season. Jayne threw for 2,789 yards and 31 touchdowns last year in his junior campaign.

Fuquay-Varina, however, will look to replace last year’s starting quarterback, Brycen Braswell with either Chris Canada or Parker Morrison.

The Bengals also lost wide receiver Michael Roberson to graduation, but Fuquay does return junior running backs Tyrus Townsend and David Honeycutt. The junior duo combined for 1,213 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns last season.

Tiebreaker: Wakefield vs. Leesville Road

Leesville Road and Wakefield will both feature new coaches this season – Chad Smothers and Brandon Kelley.

Both teams posted 6-6 records last season as members of the former Cap 8 Conference, and each squad also featured round-one exits in the 4AA playoffs.

Leesville returns two 1,000-yard passers, Evan Provost and Vince Amendola. The pair combined for 2,710 yards, 28 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. The Pride did lose leading receiver Matt Hamilton to graduation.

Wakefield will start from scratch on the offensive side of the ball this season after losing star quarterback Matt McKay.

McKay led the Wolverines in passing and rushing last season. He accounted for 2,320 yards and 24 scores.

The Wolverines will also have to replace its top three receivers from last season: Najeem Wilson, Nathan Jester and Rico Jenkins.

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