1. Sun Valley (4-0)
Previous Ranking: No. 1
This week: Weddington (4-0)
Sam Howell threw for 266 and three scores and ran for 76 yards and two more touchdowns last week at Olympic. The defense allowed just six points. Jack Wilton, Preston Doody and that defense has been outstanding. This week presents a new challenge as the Warriors come into town fresh off a good win over Crest. Quarterback Dante Casicola played well in the win and will start again. It should be fun.
2. Weddington (4-0)
Previous Ranking: No. 2
This week: at Sun Valley (4-0)
The Warriors may have made a statement last week by beating Crest with backup-turned-starter Dante Casicola at quarterback. Casicola put up big numbers, looks the part and has big-time playmakers all around him. Nobody has topped 21 points on the Warrior defense this season, but Sun Valley quarterback Sam Howell hasn’t thrown for less than three touchdowns this season and has scored at least once on the ground each week. Something has to give in the county’s game of the week.
3. Charlotte Catholic (3-1)
Previous Ranking: No. 3
This week: at Monroe (3-1)
The Cougars had looked decent to start the season, but told local reporters they flipped the switch in a 51-0 beatdown of Ardrey Kell. I think Ardrey Kell just isn’t a very good team, but we’ll see. Monroe had some personnel changes and needed a season to get acclimated to 3A football, but the Redhawks are much improved and should give the Cougars a game for at least a half, but then Catholic will wear them down.
4. Marvin Ridge (3-1)
Previous Ranking: No. 4
This Week: Piedmont (2-2)
The Mavs have had a week to think about their 43-42 overtime loss to Parkland two weeks ago and should be ready. Quarterback Jake Cameron and receiver Sean Brown have a very nice thing going on between them, and the defense had allowed 27 points through the first three games. The Mavs get Piedmont to open the conference slate, and that could be a challenge. Marvin Ridge has won four in a row and six of seven in the series, but this will not be a pushover game.
5. Porter Ridge (2-2)
Previous Ranking: No. 5
This Week: at East Meck (1-4)
The bye week hopefully got quarterback Grayson McCall and running back Jaylen Coleman some time to rest and get healthy. The Pirates started the season running all over teams and still have had success on the ground, although they’ve both been hobbled. This week, they kick off their conference schedule with East Meck, who Weddington just drubbed 57-7 last week. Porter Ridge has won two in a row and four of five in the series.
6. Metrolina Christian (2-2)
Previous Ranking: No. 6
This Week: North Raleigh Christian (1-3)
The Warriors are playing really well of late. Quarterback Myles Saxton has a great grip on the playbook and running back Jadus Davis is doing exactly what I thought he’d do in Thomas Langley’s offense. They have some tough games coming up with Asheville and Charlotte Christian, but this should be a win for the Warriors. North Raleigh has shown some fight and a pretty stout defense at times, but the Warriors will be too much.
7. Monroe (3-1)
Previous Ranking: No. 7
This Week: Charlotte Catholic (3-1)
The Redhawks thrashed Forest Hills 62-13 in a rivalry game last week. Trey Shepherd threw for over 200 yards and two scores to freshman Shaleak Knotts, and JahTwan Stafford went over 100 yards on the ground again and scored three times. They will need to all of that again this week to slow defending state champion Charlotte Catholic. The Cougars run game gave county teams fits last year, but a disciplined defense could give Monroe the chance for a huge upset.
Also receiving votes: Piedmont (2-2)
– Andrew Stark