Playoff journey beginsPublished 5:38pm Thursday, November 14, 2013
It’s win or go home time for four area teams as Round 1 of the NCHSAA playoffs begins tonight. The first round features some intriguing matchups as Northside and Riverside will square off against former Four Rivers Conference rivals Manteo and Perquimans, respectively, while Southside will face off against Pamlico for the second straight week. Plymouth may have a long journey this postseason but it won’t have to travel for as the Vikings earned a No. 1 seed and will be at home tonight against a familiar foe in Creswell.
Here’s a look at the matchups.
No. 5 Northside (6-5) at No. 4 Manteo (7-4) at 7:30 p.m.
After finishing in third place in the Coastal Plains Conference Northside was hoping to play the first round of the playoffs at home, but instead will hit the road to face former Four Rivers Conference mates Manteo.
“We are familiar them a little bit and we’re looking forward to going there and giving our best effort,” Northside coach Keith Boyd said.
For years Manteo and Plymouth ruled the Four Rivers, but this is a new day and Boyd said his focus is more on his own club then the Redskins.
“We’re not worried about them as much as we are about ourselves,” Boyd said. “If we can take care of ourselves we can be OK. It’s going to be a battle.”
The Panthers have won two out of their last three games and appear to be peaking at the right time.
“We feel like we’re clicking on all cylinders,” Boyd said. “We have some guys that can get some things done and we’re exciting about going into the playoffs.”
The key for Northside this week will be its ability to grind out drives behind running backs Antonio Woods, Rockne Butler, Noel Howson and Austin Gambriel.
“We’re going to have to control the football,” Boyd said. “We’re going to have to run some time off the clock and keep moving the chains. If we can do that and get a few stops on defense and keep the turnovers down we’ll be fine.”
No. 8 Creswell (3-8) at No. 1 Plymouth (10-0) at 7:30 p.m.
The Vikings sailed past Gates County 46-14 to finish the regular season undefeated for the third time in head coach Robert Cody’s tenure with the team.
The perfect mark allowed the Vikings, the No. 2 ranked 1-A team in the state, to nab a No. 1 seed in the East and begin their title defense at Foster Field.
“Getting the No. 1 seed is great, it means you get to play at home and I think that means a whole lot,” Cody said.
Plymouth rolled past Atlantic Conference mate Creswell 56-6 in Week 7, but Cody expects the rematch to be much more challenging.
“The first time we played them they didn’t have their quarterback and I know that made things tough for Coach (Wayne) Rogers,” Cody said. “This time around they got their starting quarterback and I thought they played real well against Manteo (in the Tigers regular season finale).
“They’re going to come in flying high and playing with nothing to lose and we’re going to try to do what we can do to stop them.”
The Vikings have won 10 straight games this year, extending a winning streak that dates back to last season to 24 games and Cody said he feels good about the way his team is playing entering the playoffs.
“I think we’ve been playing pretty good towards the end of the year,” Cody said. “I feel like the last three or four games we’ve played some pretty good teams in Manteo, Camden and Gates and I feel like we’ve played pretty good against them.”
No. 7 Southside (3-7) at No. 2 Pamlico (7-4) at 7:30 p.m.
In a strange turn of events, Southside will start the playoffs battling against the same team it faced in its regular season finale as it hits the road to take on Pamlico in the first round.
The two-week stretch basically amounts to a home-and-home series with the Hurricanes and the Seahawks, who fell 33-12 to Pamlico last week, are excited to have the opportunity to avenge that loss.
“I thought the seeding was fair,” Southside coach Jeff Carrow said. “They beat us last Friday but I think it’s going to be a good matchup. We felt like it was a fair draw. With it being a rivalry game, the kids were excited about it.”
With last week’s loss in mind, motivation won’t be a problem for the Seahawks tonight.
“Our morale is pretty good right now,” Carrow said. “In the playoffs you have to take it up another level and I’m hoping that my young guys respond to it.”
Southside has sustained the loss of some key players throughout the season for various reason and Carrow said he is looking for his players to make the most of their opportunities.
“With Isaiah Moore’s injury Andrew Baxter is going to have to do a good job at split end for us,” Carrow said. “I’m going to call on Donald Moore to also step up at tight end, and rely on my backfield to block for each other and our seniors will have to play big for us.”
No. 6 Perquimans at No. 3 Riverside (7-4) at 7:30 p.m.
The Knights enter the postseason red-hot as they won their last two games by a combined score of 129-20 to capture a No. 3 seed in the NCHSAA 1-AA classification.
“I think for the last couple of weeks we’ve been playing some pretty good football,” Riverside coach Asim McGill said. “On offense we’ve had a lot of guys stepping up and defensively we’ve continued to get better.”
Riverside will start the postseason against former Four Rivers Conference mates Perquimans.
“A lot of their personnel is the same as what we saw last year,” McGill said. “They have a pretty good quarterback who throws the ball real well and some skill guys that can make plays.”
Behind the quarterback tandem of Ryan Wagner and J.J. Wilson, the Knights are extremely dangerous on offense and tough to prepare for.
The duo combined for 87 passing yards and two touchdowns during their 49-14 win over South Creek in the season finale. Wilson also ran for 152 yards and three touchdowns on nine attempts.
“I like it. I think they’re a great tandem,” McGill said. “You got Wilson who is a wildcat-type guy and Wagner who can throw the ball pretty good and he can run a little bit. And when we put Wilson in there, teams can’t expect that we’re going to run it because he throws well enough to keep teams honest.”
With both teams featuring potent offenses, McGill said the key is to make Perquimans earn every point.
“We have to make them score with there offense,” McGill said. “We have to make them drive the ball up the field. The team that plays the best defense and doesn’t give up points on special teams will likely win.”