This week hits a milestone in the high school football season, as it’s the final Friday for nonconference action.

And it’s a good one.

West Carteret and Croatan will meet for the 20th time, and while the Bogue Sound Classic doesn’t have the pomp and pageantry of the Mullet Bucket, it has developed into a spirit-filled series.

It may be hard to call it a rivalry in the strictest sense as the Patriots are looking for their 17th win over the Cougars.

Both East Carteret and Croatan have started conference play. In fact, the Cougars have already played two league contests.

But West won’t start conference play until next week, so let’s take a look at how the leagues are stacking up.

We’ll start with the 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference.

Southwest Onslow (3-2) has won the first two league championships and appears headed for their third. The Stallions, however, aren’t the dominant team they were last season.

The 2018 version gave up just 16 points in seven conference games while going undefeated and outscored opponents by an average of 52-2.

This year’s version has already given up 34 points in two games.

Last year, Southwest Onslow beat Croatan and Dixon by a combined 93-7 and this year beat the two by a combined 77-34.

The Stallions beat Croatan 50-7 and Dixon 43-0 in 2018 and topped Croatan 28-6 and Dixon 49-28 this year.

Speaking of Dixon, these are not your big brother’s Bulldogs.

After winning two games in each of the past three seasons, they’re 2-3 thus far and have proven they can put points on the board, averaging 33 points per game.

Last Friday’s contest versus Southwest Onslow was an eye-opener as Dixon trailed just 28-21 at halftime.

After that performance, the Bulldogs seem to be the favorite to earn the Coastal 8 runner-up spot.

Croatan (3-2) and Richlands (2-3), which tied for the runner-up spot last year, are in that mix as well.

East Carteret (1-4) appears to be the cream of the rest of the crop. The Mariners could finish fifth in the eight-team league, or perhaps even fourth if they can beat Croatan or Richlands, which is saying something for a team that started 0-4.

East got off the schneid last Friday with a big 27-20 win at Pender (0-5).

The Mariners will be favored versus Trask (0-5) and Lejeune (1-4).

West Carteret (2-3), on the other hand, might be an underdog in four of its five matchups in a tough 3A Coastal Conference.

Havelock (3-1), Jacksonville (4-1) and Swansboro (5-1) are a combined 12-3.

Northside-Jacksonville is 2-3 after losing its last three, but those setbacks came to New Hanover (4-1), Wallace-Rose Hill (4-2) and Southern Nash (6-0). In the MaxPreps rankings, New Hanover is 27th and Southern Nash is 13th in 3A, while Wallace-Rose Hill is ninth in 2A.

West will be favored versus White Oak (0-5). It’s matchups with Northside and Swansboro will determine whether the Patriots finish third, fourth or fifth in the six-team league.

(Send comments or questions to jj@thenewstimes.com or follow him on Twitter @jjsmithccnt.)

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