Tigers and Redskins ready for rematch
By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
The bar has been raised for the three remaining area playoff football teams as they head into the second round of the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs.
The No. 1-seeded Plymouth Vikings (12-0) will try to continue their dominance as they battle a cagey North Edgecombe team (6-6), a No. 9 seed that topped Manteo 16-0 in the opening round, while Williamston (9-3) and Roanoke (8-4) get ready to rumble in a much anticipated rematch between two rival schools.
The Tigers drew first blood when they went into Roanoke on the final day of the regular season with both teams holding a 7-2 record, and snatched the Atlantic Conference championship from the Redskins with a dramatic 26-20 overtime victory.
The win propelled Williamston to a No. 2 seed in the 1-A East bracket, while Roanoke slid down to a seventh seed. However, both coaches would be lying if they said they didn’t peek down the bracket to see that if each won the first-round game, it would set up a compelling rematch with a raised ante.
Though the Tigers hold the higher seed, there is no doubt that these two squads are equally talented. While Williamston is the home team, it is a coin flip on who can be pronounced the favorite. Some may argue that the odds are against a team beating its rival twice in three weeks, while others may say the round-one win should give a team more confidence going into round two.
Williamston head coach Asim McGill said he is not taking any of that into consideration.
Roanoke coach Brian Paschal agreed.
One thing is for certain, Williamston will have to fight even harder for points without its top play-maker Cedric Moody. The Tigers’ tailback was suspended for a game after he was called for an excessive celebration penalty during the team’s 52-12 romp over Weldon.
McGill said it will be up to the rest of the team to pick up the slack.
McGill said he will lean heavily on freshman Trey Perry to fill the void at running back.
On top of the fact that the two Martin County rival teams will get to duke it out one more time with their playoff lives on the line, what makes this game even more exciting is how similar the two are.
While the Redskins may run a wing offense, and the Tigers use a lot of spread formations, both teams rely heavily on the run to set up the pass. Roanoke will feed teams a steady diet of Savion Hudson, while Williamston likes to split its carries between Moody and Emery Griggs.
What makes these two teams scary is when their QBs get involved. Redskins’ quarterback Alonza Higgs is just as deadly on the run as he is in the pocket. He can get the ball to sure-handed receivers Hudson and Kenneth Hyman, while Tigers’ QB Jarrett Coffield can slice up a defense on any given down.
Defensively, both the teams bring it. Both Roanoke and Williamston load up on the line of scrimmage and dare opposing offenses to make them pay for it.
Paschal said that at this point in the season both teams are familiar with each other; it’s just a matter of who can execute better.
Roanoke survived a scare last week, as it managed to hold off Northside in a 52-46 shootout. Paschal said he was happy to see his team put up the points, but would like to see his defense tighten up a little.
Since the 2000 season these two teams have played each other seven times, with Williamston holding a 5-2 advantage.
While Roanoke and Williamston know what to expect in their second-round contest, the same can’t necessarily be said for Plymouth. The Vikings are set to battle an inconsistent ninth seed North Edgecombe team that finished the season 5-5, but blanked Manteo in the first round 16-0.
Plymouth also tossed a shutout in its first-round game against Cape Hatteras, winning 56-0. Vikings’ running back Tobias Clagon rushed for 120 yards and tallied two TDs, while teammates Andre Mitchell and Angelo Sharpless also score twice each.
Cody said he will not alter his strategy that much tonight, and will try to impose his team’s will on North Edgecombe.
What North Edgecombe does is try to play power football. The team runs a wishbone offense with two tight ends, while on defense it will use a lot of 5-3, 4-4 fronts.
Cody said North Edgecombe will try to chew up the clock, and that his team needs to take an early lead.
The Plymouth skipper said his team has had a good week of practice and that they will be ready to play.
The last time these two teams met was in the 2004 season when North Edgecombe knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs for the second consecutive season.