Plymouth, Williamston and Roanoke ready to kick off ‘08 season

Published 6:01 pm Thursday, August 21, 2008

By Staff
Cody concerned about replacing starters
By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
Last year, the senior-heavy Vikings sailed into the start of the prep football season with the biggest question mark being at backup waterboy. My, have things changed for Plymouth.
The Vikings head into the 2008 campaign having lost all 11 of its starters on offensive, and a majority of its starters on defense.
Plymouth now has to figure out how to replace two 1,000-yard rushers in the backfield (Andre Mitchell and Tobias Clagon), the reigning WDN Defensive Player of the Year (Dasheen Perry) at linebacker, along with WDN first-team center Willam Hunt.
Plymouth head coach Robert Cody said the latter is his biggest concern.
The good news for the Vikings is that they had 63 athletes come out for football, the bad news is that Cody is still trying to find out how many of them can play.
Cody said evaluating the talent will take a while.
The backfield picture is a little more clear for Cody as it looks like senior fullback Daniel Downing will be the lead running back in the Vikings’ double wing system.
The other two back positions are still being fought for, but it appears that Ronnell Blount, Dylan Watts are in the lead.
Another key postion battle takes place at quarterback, where the race to replace Dasheen Perry is being run by junior George Simpson and sophomore Akeem Cooper.
Cody said the biggest difference between the two is that Simpson has the better arm, but Cooper is a faster runner.
The Vikings’ coach said the strength of this year’s team is it defense, which will have to step up the first few weeks until the offensive postion battles play out.
Linebackers Patrick Phelps, and Downing will be asked to lead the defense this year, and if they can get strong play out of the young guns, the Vikings’ defense can be formadable.
With only eight seniors on the team, Plymouth won’t be able to run the more complicated defenses that worked so well last year in Cody and defensive coordinator Terry Perry’s 3-3-5 defense.
The Vikings will get their first test on Friday, when the defending NCHSAA 1-A champions will host Farmville Central.
The 2-A Jaguars from the Eastern Plains Conference finished last season with a 5-7 (2-3) record and are returning two starters on offense, and three on defense.
Fans can get their first look at the defending NCHSAA 1-A champions on Friday, when the Vikings’ host 2-A Farmville Central.
Tigers are thinking state title
By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
Williamston quarterback Cedric Moody believes his team has all the tools to pick up some hardware this season.
With 16 starters returning to a team that went 9-4, won the Atlantic Conference, and reached the second round of the NCHSAA Class 1-A state playoffs, Moody and his teammates are ready to make a run at a state championship in 2008.
The strength of the 2008 Tigers should be the defense, which returns nine starters, including three WDN First-Team All-Area selections in defensive lineman Derrick Everett, and twin brothers DeBriant and DeBrian Everett at the two middle linebacker positions.
Williamston coach Asim McGill expects big things from the front of his defense. Besides Derrick Everett on the defensive line, the Tigers will also return three-year starters Emery Griggs and Walt Ange. They’ll be joined by senior Mark Joyner, who McGill expects to have a good year after opting to sit out of football the last two seasons.
Nonetheless, the Tigers are loaded with offensive weapons.
Leading the charge will be tailback Emery Griggs, a powerful downhill runner who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season. This year, he expects to reach the 2,000-yard plateau.
At quarterback, Moody will have some big shoes to fill as he takes over for Jarrett Coffield, a WDN All-Area Second-Team selection. Moody spent time at running back last season where he scored 13 touchdowns, but will shift to quarterback this season in the Tigers’ run-oriented offense.
Dwayne Berry, another three-year starter is also expected to get plenty of carries this season, while receiver Jermaine McGee and tight end Derrick Everett are the top options in the passing game.
Williamston will take the first step on their championship run on Friday when they travel Elizabeth City to take on Northeastern. The Eagles were 5-7 last season.
Roanoke has huge holes to fill
By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
Heading into the 2008 season, Roanoke coach Brian Paschal knew replacing star running back Savion Hudson and strong-armed quarterback Alonza Higgs would be tough, but trying to fill the void left by stalwart tackle Turbian Jones is virtually impossible.
Jones, the WDN All-Area first team tackle, was an integral part of the 10-5 Redskins’ run to the NCHSAA 1-A Eastern Semi-Finals last season.
Throughout the year, Jones paved holes for the Roanoke backs, while protecting Higgs from the blitzing defenses of the Atlantic Conference.
As the Redskins prepare for their season opener against Southeast Halifax, Paschal said that the team’s biggest question mark is its offensive line.
The Redskins offensive line will feature Trevon Purvis at tackle, who started last season and will be looked upon as one of the unit’s leaders. Playing along side Purvis will be returnees Warren Forbes and tight end Aaron Baker. Paschal said that Roanoke will rely heavily on that trio.
Playing behind them and taking the snaps this year will be Perkins, who Paschal expressed confidence in.
Paschal felt equally good about the play of Cooper and the rest of the Roanoke backs.
While the spread offense has become infectious, it hasn’t spread to Roanoke, where Paschal said he will still be running the wing-T.
Defensively, the Redskins don’t plan on any drastic changes either. Paschal said he will be using a blitz heavy 4-4 stack as his base defense.
Paschal was particularly happy with the play of newcomer Johnnie Sessons. This summer is Sessons first time playing football, and Paschal said he has potential to make an impact at defensive end.
Sessons and the revamped Redskins will make their debut Friday, when they host Southeast Halifax.
The Trojans, coached by Marcus Lewis, finished 5-7 with a 2-4 record in the Tar Roanoke Conference.