Preseason predictions, records, past history — throw them all out the window. This weekend, it will all come down to one game in deciding who's No. 1.
4AA: Greensboro Page vs. Garner (3 p.m. Saturday)
All season long, both of these teams have quietly made a case for being the state's top team. In the last two rounds, Page knocked off Butler and Mallard Creek, teams that most figured had the best shot at winning the title. Meanwhile, Garner has blown up the scoreboard and blown out opponents, putting up 40-plus points in 10 of their last 11 games while letting the backfield of Juwan Moye and Demetrius Fairley run loose. Offensive firepower isn't a problem for either team, which makes defense the X-factor. Page has used late turnovers to rally in the last two weeks, while Garner stuffed a potent Jack Britt run game in the final quarter to pull out its semifinal win.
My pick: Garner 38, Greensboro Page 35
4A: Scotland vs. Porter Ridge (7 p.m. Saturday)
Jack Britt coach Richard Bailey told me about a month before the season that Scotland was going to be really good this season. I know I said throw out the predictions, but clearly the long-time coach was dead on. Scotland has used its talented QB Kwashaun Quick, wealth of rushers and impressive skill players on defense to run the table so far this year. Porter Ridge has a formidable QB in Lee McNeil and has the ability to pull out gritty wins. The Fighting Scots have had little trouble with their playoff opponents thus far, but Porter Ridge is likely to change that.
My pick: Scotland 31, Porter Ridge 27
3AA: Crest vs. Northern Guilford (7:30 p.m.Friday)
These two tangled in last year's title game with Northern Guilford prevailing 21-20 for the crown. The Nighthawks enter as the slight favorite again, riding a 13-game win streak and a formidable RB in T.J. Logan (2,264 rushing yards, 34 touchdowns). Crest star DL Jonathan Bullard and the rest of the Chargers D will need to be at their best to slow Logan. So will the Chargers offense, which has hit its stride after changing schemes midseason and found production behind Rhaheim Ledbetter, a Florida commit who has 1,027 rushing yards and 19 scores but is actually better at DB.
My pick: Crest 21, Northern Guilford 20
3A: Havelock vs. West Rowan (11 a.m. Saturday)
West Rowan is going for its fourth straight title, but unlike in years past, Havelock enters as the juggernaut. Havelock is averaging 51.5 points per game and has put up at least 62 in three of its four playoff wins. Quarterback Garrett Rowe has played a big part, throwing for 3,208 yards and 36 touchdowns. But for as serious as those stats are, West Rowan's experience and talent on both sides of the ball grants its the tools to slow down the Rams.
My pick: Havelock 42, West Rowan 35
2AA: Kinston vs. West Stokes (3 p.m. Saturday)
The road to this point hasn't been easy for either team. Kinston has needed several cardiac comebacks to down Bunn and Reidsville by a combined five points while West Stokes used a furious fourth-quarter comeback to erase a 12-point lead and beat Shelby in the semis. West Stokes has a fiesty defense led by sack machine Tyler Bullard. but Kinston counters with several playmakers in QB C.J. Bradshaw and running back Shaheed Swinson.
My pick: West Stokes 24, Kinston 17
2A: Tarboro vs. Lincolnton (11 a.m. Saturday)
Tarboro is back in the title game for the fourth straight year in hopes of winning its third straight crown. All of you are familiar with standout tailback Todd Gurley from his ESPNHS diary and it's safe to say Lincolnton's plan will be to stop the senior. Gurley has fought through injury to top the 2,00-yard mark and power the Vikings to wins, including a late score in last week's semifinal round against South Columbus. The run game will be a concern for the Tarboro D, too, which has to find a way to thwart Lincolnton's tricky triple-option offense.
My pick: Tarboro 21, Lincolnton 18
1AA: Ayden-Grifton vs. Swain County (11 a.m. Saturday)
Ayden-Grifton pulled off the major upset last week, downing two-time defending state champ Wallace-Rose Hill, led by QB Brandon Larry (242 total yards, two score). Will this be enough to knock off a surging Swain County squad?
My pick: Ayden-Grifton 24, Swain County 21
1A: Jones County vs. Murphy (7:30 p.m. Friday)
Murphy began the year 0-3, but with a dual-threat QB that can pile up the stats in Seth Curtis (more than 3,200 total yards), the Bulldogs are back in the title game for the second straight year. Jones County, which is making its first championship-game appearance, will be looking for the upset.
My pick: Murphy 34, Jones County 25
Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.