Vikings, Knights ready for showdown|Heavyweight battle highlights Week 9

Published 11:06 pm Friday, October 15, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES,, Sports Writer
After nine weeks of football the Four Rivers Conference finally has a lone leader as the Plymouth Vikings sit atop of the division with a 7-0 (3-0) record.
The Riverside Knights would like to change that.
Since the preseason most have speculated that Riverside (6-1, 2-1) and Plymouth would be two of the toughest teams in the conference this year and tonight the two powerhouses will clash in Williamston for what should be one of the best games in the conference all year.
The Knights are part of a four-team logjam at second place that also includes Manteo (5-2, 2-1), Perquimans (4-3, 2-1) and Camden (3-4, 2-1).
The Seahawks, who fell in Week 8 to Plymouth, sit in third place with a 5-2 (1-2) record, while Northside (2-5, 0-3) and South Creek (0-7, 0-3) round out the conference.
The Seahawks will look to snap a two-game skid tonight when they host Perquimans, while the Panthers will try to bust a four-game losing streak at Manteo. South Creek is still seeking its first win in the newly formed school’s history and will attempt to do that tonight at Camden. Here is a look at the matchups:
No. 4 Plymouth (7-0, 3-0) at No 10 Riverside
(6-1, 2-1)
The fourth-ranked Vikings have been playing exceptional football all season and tonight they hit the road to face No. 10 Riverside. The Vikings are coming off an impressive 55-16 road win over Southside and will look to extend their winning streak to eight games when they take on Knights.
Over the past five years Plymouth and Riverside (formerly Williamston and Jamesville High Schools before the merger) have been some of the most successful teams in the area. The Vikings have won two conference championships in that time along with a state title in 2007 when they went a perfect 16-0.
While technically this is Riverside’s first year in school history, when it was known as Williamston it won conference titles in 2007 and 2008, with the latter also the year it all the way to the state title game.
“It’s a big game, with it being Riverside the (two teams) are close and they know it’s a big rivalry,” Plymouth coach Robert Cody said. “But we need to stay focused. Our kids know they need to block, tackle and take care of business.”
The Knights feel the same way.
“Anytime you play Plymouth it’s a big time rivalry game,” Riverside coach Asim McGill said. “The kids are excited on both sides. It’s one of those weeks where you don’t have to get the kids focused because they are already ready to go. It’s something that I think we have been looking forward to all year long. It’s going to be a great game with a great football atmosphere.”
The Knights were posting 34.8 points per game over their first five games, but after star wideout K.J. Brown was sidelined with a knee injury they have scored only 27 points in their last two contests combined. In Week 7 they lost 18-7 to Camden on a Monday night after a rain-filled week washed out the practice schedule. Last week they bounced back with a 20-14 win over Camden.
McGill and his staff are no strangers to dealing with injuries to stars over the past few years and have tweaked their approach to make up for Brown’s absence.
“We lost K.J. against Manteo and then we had the bad weather so we didn’t have a practice without him and then had to play a game, but we have made some adjustments to our offense,” McGill said. “Come Friday night you are going to see a different offense then you have seen all year. We have usually been a one-back, spread team but we have changed some things around.”
The Knights’ counterparts haven’t had much need to tweak things as the Vikings have out-scored their opponents 303-90 thanks to a stable of talented running backs and a dominant offensive line.
Though it attacks with a wing-T offense, Plymouth posts spread-like point totals and is capable of ripping off a big run at any moment. McGill said the key for his team is to limit the big plays.
“When you watch Plymouth on film it seems like they never have to drive the football because they always have so many big plays,” McGill said. “The goal is to just try and make them drive the football to score. We can’t give up the big plays.”
The Plymouth backs are led by reigning WDN Athlete of the Year Ronnell Blount, who has rushed for over 100 yards a game this season.
“He is a good kid in the classroom and off the field and he has been running the ball real well this year,” Cody said. “He’s been staying healthy. The last few years he has been hurt but this year he is staying healthy. … He’s run for about over 800 yards this season but he also has a pretty good offensive line in front of him and that’s a big key right there.”
Perquimans (4-3, 2-1) at Southside (5-2, 1-2)
After falling to the defending Four Rivers Conference champions Manteo, then suffering a 55-16 defeat at the hands of No. 4 Plymouth, the injury-riddled Seahawks are looking to snap a two-game losing streak tonight when they host Perquimans.
Starting with star quarterback Terrell Moore’s ankle injury in Week 3, Southside has been bit hard by the injury bug.
“We played really hard against Plymouth, but they are the best team we have faced so far,” Southside coach DeWayne Kellum said. “We had a lot of injuries coming out of the Manteo game, we lost two more players during that game but we will reload and be all right.”
Southside has seen significant injuries to nine players so far including injuries to three starting linebackers and offensive and defensive tackle Treyshon Blount.
The injuries have forced the Seahawks to make some major moves.
“We didn’t have enough players so we called off JV and had all of them move up,” Kellum said. “It gives us some depth, and so far we have had a few good days of practice.”
On a positive note, Moore’s ankle has been getting better each week and may get some playing time tonight. Kellum said he will continue to take a cautious approach with Moore and will not risk losing him for the season by rushing him into action.
Northside (2-5, 0-3) at Manteo (5-2, 2-1)
Heading into tonight’s matchup Northside is still seeking its first Four Rivers Conference win and will look to do so on the road against a tough Manteo.
With the exception of a 40-0 loss to 3-A Washington and a 47-0 defeat at the hands of No. 4 Plymouth, Northside has hung around in each game it has played this season. The trick for the Panthers is to get over the hump. Northside is in the midst of a four-game losing streak and knows that it must play defense if it wants that skid to end.
Aside from their Week 1 win over Creswell, Northside has let up over 30 points in every game this year and over 40 points three times.
After falling to Riverside two weeks ago, Manteo has played some good ball as it beat Southside 42-22 and then blanked South Creek 49-0.
South Creek (0-7, 0-3) at Camden (3-4, 2-1)
The Cougars struggles continue as they approach Week 9 still looking for their first win of the season and in the newly formed school’s history. South Creek came close in Week 4 as it fell 40-33 to Northside. The team put forth a strong effort the next week when it fell 12-8 to Perquimans. However, the Cougars failed to post points in back-to-back game against two of the top teams in the conference in Plymouth and Manteo.
South Creek will look to break that eight-quarter scoreless streak tonight when it travels to Camden. The Bruins have been a pesky team and handed Riverside its first loss of the season in Week 7 with an 18-7 win and followed that up with a 34-20 win over Northside.