This is a hard week to forecast for a number of reasons. You just don't know how a team will respond after the first game, whether it's a win or loss.
Friday, Aug. 28 (all game times 7:30 unless otherwise noted)
Game of the Week
Middle Creek vs Southern Durham
You'd be hard pressed to find a better match-up in the eastern half of the state than this one. Middle Creek is as balanced as of a team as you could hope for, and Southern Durham, with two future ACC players, is as talented and experienced of a team the Triangle has seen recent years. Southern is so deep that Tony Creecy (one of the best H.S. players I've seen) wasn't even the team's leading receiver in a 47-17 blasting of J.H. Rose. Both teams have stingy defenses and explosive offenses, and I'm not sure how it'll all play out. As far as nonconference opponents go, Middle Creek is about #4 on Southern's priority (they also play Douglas Byrd, Wake Forest-Rolesville and Millbrook) if not #5. And if Southern doesn't respect a decent team, it usually means an upset. I'll take the Spartans, but not by much.
Final verdict: Southern Durham by 8
Athens Drive (1-0) at Enloe (0-1): Some are doubting Athens after they needed a last-minute touchdown to defeat Sanderson, one of the lower-tier teams in the CAP 7. Give this team some time to jell. There's a lot of new pieces to fit in the right spots. Enloe surprised me last week with how they were handled 41-20 at Pinecrest. Athens needs to learn what the Patriots did to rack up that many points and emulate it, and utimately I think they will. If not, I'll be there to see why not. NOTE: The game time will be 7 p.m., not 7:30.
Final verdict: Athens Drive by 13
Durham Jordan (1-0) at Panther Creek (0-1): If there are such things as impressive losses and unimpressive wins, Jordan and Panther Creek would know. Jordan had an average 17-7 win over 3-A Orange County, while Panther Creek nearly toppled 4-A giant Leesville Road. While I expect the Catamounts to win, it's going to be a lot harder than just executing X's and O's. Jordan does have some young and talented playmakers, and Panther Creek is a program still learning how to win games. The Catamounts didn't handle the lead or the oh-my-gosh-we're-winning feeling very well last week. They need to finish one off so they know they've been there before.
Final verdict: Panther Creek by 10
Wakefield (1-0) at Holly Springs (0-1): Holly Springs played Southeast Raleigh tooth-and-nail for a little more than two quarters. If they can stretch that play through four quarters, they'll have a win over Wakefield this week. I give a slight edge to the Golden Hawks in this one.
Final verdict: Holly Springs by 3
Durham Riverside (0-1) at Apex (0-1): Combined, these two teams lost 83-7 last week. Naturally, I'll give the edge in this one to the team that scored those 7, and that's Apex. It's started as a down year for Apex, but at least they aren't Riverside. The Pirates have gone 2-20 since reaching the 2006 State Championship game. A nonconference win should be just what the doctor ordered for an Apex team in need of some confidence.
Final verdict: Apex by 17
Leesville Road (1-0) at Green Hope (0-1): I'm expecting a pretty one-sided affair in this one after the Falcons suffered a 31-7 defeat to a team most expected to finish in the bottom of the CAP-7 Conference. I remember going to this game two years ago and it was 56-0. I've got a similar result in store this year.
Final verdict: Leesville Road by 30
Cary (0-1) at Northern Nash (0-1): I'm not the expert on Nash County. In fact, I don't think I've ever been through Nash County. But I do know this: when Cary didn't turn the ball over or get flagged for a penalty, the Imps moved the ball well on Broughton. And Northern Nash is a 3-A school that's coming off a 29-14 loss to a 2-A school. That's enough for me to take the Imps.
Final verdict: Cary by 10
Lee County (0-1) at Richmond County (1-0): Let's see. Lee County is coming off a 20-0 loss to 3-A Western Harnett, and will now have to play the defending 4-AA champs. You won't see me predict a winning margin this large ever again.
Final verdict: Richmond County by 54
Fuquay-Varina (1-0) at Clayton (0-1): No need to go into great detail here. Just know that coming off a 20-7 loss to 3-A private school Cardinal Gibbons is not the best result for confidence going into a game with Fuquay. The Bengals wasted no time jumping on Greater Neuse member Knightdale last week (59-yard Cory Hunter TD on the first play) and will likely do the same to the Comets.
Final verdict: Fuquay by 30