THE RALEIGH REGION, BE T TER KNOWN AS THE TRIANGLE, is the second-most populated area in the state and home to some strong, high-flying offensive high school football teams that never struggle to score points in bunches.
While the overall brand of football in Raleigh is not as physical
as in other parts of the state, the talent is equally as impressive.
Garner, however, doesn’t fit the mold of a program that’s just a
finesse team or an offensive power. The Trojans are a tough, physi-
cal, blue-collar team that brings its lunch box to work every day.
Even with a new head coach, the Trojans will continue their style of
play as a tough, hard-nosed, run-first team.
While the Trojans finished 14-1 last year, it was really a disap-
pointment that they didn’t reach the state finals after suffering
a deflating 14-8 loss at the hands of Jack Britt in the semifinals.
Thurman Leach, the longtime assistant turned head coach, will be
looking to take the next step and make a return to the state finals.
Standing in the way could be Knightdale, Clayton or Southeast
Raleigh in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference.
Knightdale took a huge step forward last year when it posted
a 7-4 record. Head coach Robert Senseney’s Knights are much
improved and will be aiming for the top of the standings. Clayton
has seen legendary coach Gary Fowler retire but in steps Randy
Pinkowski, who was the longtime coach at C.B. Aycock and the
expectations will be high for the Comets after last year’s 9-4
Southeast Raleigh was relatively young last year, but the youth
of 2012 will now be veteran experience and the Bulldogs should
be much improved. The Bulldogs are sure to get a strong non-conference test early in the season when they travel to Myrtle
Beach, S.C., on Labor Day weekend to take on the South Carolina
4-A runner-up Dutch Fork Silver Foxes. That team is coached by
former Independence head coach Tom Knotts.
Last season, Wakefield averaged 44 points per game with a
pass-happy offense led by Connor Mitch. The Wolverines finished
11-2 but came up short in the conference title race to Leesville
Road, which finished 12-1. Leesville Road is still the favorite to
win the CAP- 8 Conference and should once again be very strong
offensively. The Pride averaged 39 points per game and was held
to less than 20 points only once.
In the newly formed Southwest Wake 4A Conference, Middle
Creek will most likely lead the way as they’ve gotten better each
year and head coach Mike Castellano looks to improve on last
year’s 11-2 record in his first year with the program.
Fuquay Varina is always a team to watch, but they’ll be doing
it with a new head coach as Ryan Habich has moved west to the
mountains and Watagua High.
Year in and year out Durham Hillside has been the dominant
team in the PAC- 6 and that should remain the same, especially
with crosstown foe Southern Durham moving down to the 3A ranks.
Three of the schools in the conference have new coaches so it’s
very likely the Hornets will run away with that conference.
The Big Eight Conference could be the most entertaining with
four strong teams battling for the top spot. Cardinal Gibbons won it
last year but Orange, Southern Durham and Chapel Hill are all very
strong programs that can compete for a state title.
Marlin Johnson, Carrboro
QB Lemar Harris
RB Donte Williams
RB Bryce Love
RB Trai Sharp
WR Curtis Burston
WR Trevion Thompson Hillside
WR Maurice Trowell Southern Durham
TE Avery Edwards
OL Trey Ratliff
OL Ezavian Dunn
OL Logan Tisch
OL Sam Marsh
ATH Braxton Berrios Leesville Road
DL Chris Alston
DL Gavin Leach
East Chapel Hill
DL Jaquez Bullock
LB Kendrick Richardson Northern Nash
LB King Kaiku
LB Jake Butler
LB Cole Nigro
DB Kalen McCain
DB Dorrel McClain
DB J.D. Brooks
DB Richard Hall
DB Marlin Johnson
ATH Nyheim Miller-Hines Garner
TOP 5 TEAMS
1GARNER: There will be a new coach as Thurman Leach takes over, but the
system and the winning attitude will remain
firmly in place.
2LEESVILLE ROAD: Look for the Pride to keep striving for a 4AA title game
appearance behind the efforts of star athlete
3MIDDLE CREEK: In their second year under coach Mike Castellano, the
Mustangs could break through.
4HILLSIDE: 2013 looks like the year in which the Hornets will get their buzz back
as they appear poised to sting the competition.
5CARRBORO: After finishing second in 2AA, the Jaguars will be looking to take
it up a notch. Coach Jason Tudryn’s system
is definitely fun to watch.