No. 1 Mallard Creek vs. No. 3 Independence, Memorial Stadium, Saturday, 8 p.m.
The top matchup in North Carolina in Week 1 gets a big stage at refurbished Memorial Stadium. Between them, these two schools have won nine of the past 15 state championships in the state’s largest classification. Mallard Creek hopes to join Independence as the only Mecklenburg County 4A team to win three straight state titles. Independence plays its first game under coach Justin Hardin.
No. 9 Ardrey Kell at No. 11 Weddington, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Weddington reached the N.C. 3AA state finals last season and returns several key players, including defensive end Lance Moore, QB Grayson Willingham and preseason all-state kicker/punter Keith Duncan. Ardrey Kell plays its first game under new coach Joe Evans and is led by two D1 recruits – defensive lineman Julian Okwara (Notre Dame) and offensive lineman Taleni Suhren (Wake Forest).
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Rocky River at Richmond Senior, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Richmond Senior is No. 9 in the NC Preps preseason 4A poll under first-year coach Mike Castellano. His job is return the Raiders to statewide prominence. Rocky River returns only four starters from a 9-5 team, but looked strong in preseason.