The third round of the playoffs is about to get underway, meaning the stakes are higher and competition is much more intense. Here are the games to watch:
Butler at Greensboro Page
Butler faces its biggest test since opening the season against Mallard Creek. Greensboro Page has been dominant all year behind dual-threat QB James Summers and tailback Drew Rogers. The Pirates' defense has also been impressive, giving up less than eight points per game. But of course, this unit will have its hands full with Butler's plethora of offensive weapons. Whichever team wins the turnover battle is likely to come out on top.
My pick: Butler 35, Greensboro Page 31
Leesville Road at Garner
One team will emerge with its first loss of the year and it's hard to tell who in this evenly-matched contest. Creating offense shouldn't be a problem for either team in this matchup, what with Garner averaging 48.1 points and Leesville Road averaging 54.1 points. In other words, simply one defensive stop could make the difference in this one.
My pick: Leesville Road 38, Garner 35
Hillside at Scotland
Hillside faces a major roadblock in its bid to repeat as champs when it faces Scotland tonight. The Fighting Scots have been unbeatable this season behind QB Kwashaun Quick and their athletic skill players. Hillside has obviously been here before, though, and boasts a star on both sides of the ball in RB Khris Francis and DL Jamal Marcus.
My pick: Scotland 27, Hillside 20
A.L. Brown at Charlotte Catholic
A.L. Brown enters this contest with hopes of proving its a viable contender, but as has been the case for five of the past seven years, Charlotte Catholic has plans of ending the Wonders' playoff run. Charlotte Catholic has gotten a surprise boost from sophomore tailback Elijah Hood this season, while the Wonders were routed in their one contest against a ranked team this year (41-13 loss to Porter Ridge).
My pick: Charlotte Catholic 34, A.L. Brown 21
Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.