Friday Night Lights
by Josh Spence

Even in this crazy world filled with unknowns and surprises, sometimes things happen the way they are supposed to.

That will be the case this Friday night in round four of the class 4-A state playoffs.  It will be a clash of the unbeaten as top-seeded Rose (14-0)  takes on 2nd-seeded Wilmington Hoggard (14-0), with the winner playing in the state championship game the following Saturday.

JH Rose is riding the second longest winning streak in the state at 35 games, while Hoggard comes in winners of 14 in a row.  Rose cruised pretty easily through the regular season but has run into some tough competition lately.  After allowing an opponent to reach 21 points only once during the regular season, the Rampants have had 21 scored on them in back to back weeks, including last weeks 28-21 thriller against Fuquay-Varina.  Seven points is by far the closest margin of victory for Rose, whose previous low margin of victory was 23, against EE Smith in the regular season.  28 points is also a season low for a Rose offense that had previously scored no less than 37 points.  (also vs EE Smith)

Hoggard on the other hand is on a roll.  The Vikings have won 14 straight, and unlike the Rampants, have not been tested in the playoffs.  Ironically Hoggard played two familiar opponents in the first two rounds of the playoffs.  In the final two games of the regular season Hoggard played conference games against Ashley, and then New Hanover to round out the season.  It was then on to the playoffs where the schedule seemed to repeat itself.  Hoggard played and beat Ashley in the first round and New Hanover in the second.  The Vikings finally moved out of area last week in a 52-14 win over Durham Southern.

Much like Rose, Hoggard has been dominant all year long.  The Vikings are averaging 43 points per game while only allowing 12.  Hoggard is led offensively by Senior QB Brandon Miley, who has the best passer rating in the state at 146, according to the Wilmington Star News.  Miley has completed 69 percent of his passes and thrown for over 2,000 yards.  However, Head Coach Scott Braswell’s Vikings will likely look to run first against the Rampants.  Hoggard has more than twice as many touchdowns rushing than they do passing.  The Vikings leasing rusher is Rashad Williams, with more than 1,200 yards this season. 

The winner of Friday night’s one versus two showdown advances to the state championship game against the winner of West Charlotte and Watauga, at Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium December 9th. 

Don’t forget, Friday night we bring you all the exciting play-by-play action live on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930 as Rose hosts Wilmington Hoggard. It all starts with the special extended pre-game show Friday night at 7 p.m.

Josh Spence