For the next two weeks, Rivals.com is taking a look at the high school football talent in rival regions - breaking down the best prospects, best teams and giving our vote for which area owns the superior talent.
TODAY'S MATCHUP: Charlotte metro area vs. Raleigh-Durham
The case for Charlotte
The Charlotte area is certainly rising in the minds of many when it comes to D-I football talent and schools such as Mallard Creek, Butler, Ardrey Kell, Charlotte Catholic and now Phillip O'Berry Academy of Technology are now consistently producing top players.
On the defensive side, the Charlotte area is deep at linebacker - Nick Dawson from O'Berry, Peter Kalambayi from Butler and Larenz Bryant from Vance - but lacks depth in other areas. Defensive end and Notre Dame commitment Romeo Okwara from Ardrey Kell leads the charge and is joined by 2013 defensive end Daniel Garces from Providence.
Raleigh/Durham boasts running back Keith Marshall from Millbrook, who many feel could be the No. 1 running back in the country. Add in fellow running back Chris Mangus from Broughton and you have an amazing 1-2 punch from the area. But R/D also has targets in a passing game with tight end and Duke commitment Daniel Beilinson from Panther Creek, along with 2013 wide receiver Dante Jones from Southeast Raleigh and 2014 wideout Braxton Berrios from Leesville Road.
Raleigh/Durham is not very strong up front, with the offensive linemen of note being Casey Perry from Hillside, who is a terrific run blocker, Matthew DeGraffinreed from Millbrook and 2013's Mike Sutton from Panther Creek. Defensive end Jamal Marcus from Hillside is very talented and hard to handle off the edge, but there isn't much else on the D-line.
Charlotte gets the nod, in a big way. There just isn't enough talent up front for Raleigh-Durham and it in no way measures up to Charlotte's skill in the passing game. The Charlotte area, which last year produced perhaps the top recruit of the past decade in Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe DE Jadeveon Clowney, is again far ahead of its rival region from the north.
Having Butler and Mallard Creek among the best teams in the country - and clearly the top two teams in the state this season - gives this debate to Charlotte. Wake Forest-Rolesville is probably the most consistent and strongest competitor in the Raleigh area with five straight conference titles, three regional finals and a 2010 state runner-up finish. Durham Hillside and Durham Southern have been able to get into the mix recently, but not take over the top spots, which will again be claimed by Charlotte teams.