Back to the gridiron for prep schools
By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
In just 19 days, several area high school football teams will hit the field for their season openers.
Preparation begins in earnest today with the first official day of practice. Washington, Northside, Roanoke, Williamston, Plymouth and Mattamuskeet will kick off their seasons on Aug. 17, while Southside, Creswell, Jamesville and Columbia get an extra week to prepare for their first games.
Washington running back Travis Daniels earned a high honor even before the first practice of the 2007 season.
The Pam Pack senior was tabbed the Coastal Conference Preseason Player of the Year. He ran for 1,553 yards and accounted for 22 touchdowns as a junior.
Daniels also received honorable mention on the North Carolina Prep Football News Preseason Class 3-A All-State Team, as well as earning honorable mention on the entire Preseason All-State Team.
Roanoke running back Savion Hudson and Plymouth offensive lineman K.J. Hunt also received honorable mention on the All-State Team.
Hudson was tabbed the Preseason Player of the Year in the Atlantic Conference.
Jamesville quarterback Regis Bell earned the Preseason Player of the Year nod for the Tideland Conference.
Hudson and Hunt were named to the North Carolina Prep Football News Preseason 1-A All-State Team. Earning honorable mention were Bell, Roanoke quarterback Alonzo Higgs and Plymouth offensive lineman Blake Bryan.
The Plymouth Vikings were ranked seventh in the North Carolina Prep Football News 2007 Preseason Baker’s Dozen among the 1-A teams. Southside and Williamston earned honorable mention.
Thomasville was ranked first in 1-A.
Shelby was listed tops in 2-A, Western Alamance was the top team in 3-A and Charlotte Independence was listed first among the 4-A schools.
Washington was picked to finish third in the 3-A/4-A Coastal Conference by the conference coaches, and the highest among the 3-A teams.
J.H. Rose and New Bern, both 4-A schools, were picked to finish first and second, respectively, in the conference. They were followed by Washington, West Craven, South Central, Havelock, D.H. Conley and West Carteret.
The Roanoke Redskins were selected as the team to beat in the Atlantic Conference. Trailing Roanoke in the selection process by the conference coaches were Southside, Northside and Williamston.
Jamesville was picked by the conference coaches to win the Tideland Conference for the third straight year. The Bullets were followed by Creswell, Mattamuskeet, Cape Hatteras and Columbia.
Plymouth was the top choice among the conference coaches to win the Albemarle Conference. The Vikings were followed by Manteo, Camden County and Perquimans. Camden’s Johnnie Spence was picked as the conference’s Preseason Player of the Year.
A look ahead
The Pam Pack, coached by Sport Sawyer and coming off a 6-6 campaign in 2006, starts the season Aug. 17 at North Pitt. Along with Daniels, other players to watch out for are senior running back Jamont Jones, senior linebacker Cody Cunningham, junior quarterback Austin Thompson and junior defensive end Chase Tripp.
Coach Keith Boyd will lead his Northside Panthers onto the field for their season opener Aug. 17 at First Flight. Northside, 2-9 last year, will be led by senior wingback William Rushtan and senior strong safety Colby Mason.
Plymouth, directed by Washington Daily News’ Coach of the Year Robert Cody, is coming off a 10-3 campaign. The Vikings, who begin the season Aug. 17 at Farmville Central, have several key players returning, including Hunt, Bryan, offensive lineman Reginald James, linebacker Dasheen Perry, running back Andre Mitchell, linebacker Lynell Wood and running back Tobias Clagon.
Brian Paschal will guide the Roanoke Redskins once again this year. The Redskins, 7-6 a year ago, open play Aug. 17 at Southeast Halifax. Leading the Redskins are Hudson, who compiled 1,482 yards and 22 touchdowns last year, Higgs, wide receiver/cornerback Kenneth Hyman and linebacker Chris Ballard.
Mattamuskeet, which went 5-6 last year, kicks off the season Aug. 17 at home against Perquimans. The Lakers will be led by the likes of senior offensive lineman/linebacker Josh Howard, junior running back/cornerback Lautez Clayton and junior wide receiver/free safety Mike Metcalf.
Asim McGill will lead the Williamston Tigers, 4-8 last year, once again in 2007. The Tigers begin the season Aug. 17 at home against Northeastern. Looking to lead the way will be senior quarterback/defensive back Jarrett Coffield, junior running back/linebacker Emery Griggs, junior offensive/defensive lineman Derek Everett and sophomore running back/defensive back Cedric Moody.
Coach Wayne Rodgers and his Creswell Tigers, 3-6 last year, open the season Aug. 23 at home against the Eastern N.C. School for the Deaf. Top players for the Tigers are running back Raiphon Owens and linebacker Dwayne Helton.
The Southside Seahawks, who will have just their second coach in school history at the start of the season, will begin play Aug. 24 at Rosewood. Looking to build on a 7-5 season are key players such as senior tailback/linebacker Dontrez Sneed, fullback/linebacker Michael Clayton, guard/linebacker Floyd Moore, guard/defensive end Courtney Ballard, offensive/defensive tackle Jaquay Hill, quarterback/free safety Chris Godley, junior split end/defensive back Antwan McCuller and fullback/linebacker Dash Spruill.
Richie Ange will once again lead the Jamesville Bullets, 8-3 overall and 8-0 in conference play last year, onto the field. The Bullets, who start the season Aug. 24 at Plymouth, will be led by Bell, junior offensive lineman Brady Barber, junior offensive lineman Dustin Barr, junior running back/linebacker Elliot Garkin, junior running back/linebacker Eric Coltrain, junior running back/defensive back Tyler Ange, junior tight end/defensive back Justin Barr and junior wide receiver/defensive back Coleman Perry.
The Columbia Wildcats, coming off a 5-5 record in 2006, begin the season Aug. 24 at Pamlico. The Wildcats will be guided by new head coach RaShawn Spencer.