Southside faces stiff test in Manteo

Published 7:06 pm Thursday, November 10, 2011

CHOCOWINITY — The Seahawks will have their hands full tonight as they enter the second round of the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs having to play the team that put an end to their postseason run this time a year ago.
Last season, Southside held a 27-6 fourth-quarter lead over Manteo but the Redskins ripped off a remarkable 36-0 run to win the district championship 40-27 and advance to the Sectional Round of the playoffs.
The Seahawks were able to get some payback this year as their Week 6 24-22 victory over Redskins would be the “one” in the team’s 10-1 record.
Tonight, No. 4 Southside (6-5) will have to duplicate that effort when it hits the road to battle No. 1 Manteo at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re not going to catch them sleeping this time,” Southside coach DeWayne Kellum said. “They’ll be ready and are going to take us seriously, so we have to go out and play hard.”
There was no doubt Southside played hard in the first round of the playoffs as it was able to avenge a Week 9 loss to South Creek by shutting down the No. 5 Cougars 34-0 on a cold, rainy night.
“It was good that our kids came back after getting beat by that team,” Kellum said. “We were able to get a decisive win because our defense stepped up.”
The Seahawks curtailed the Cougars attack as they held them to 85 yards rushing and 25 yards passing. That defensive effort was led by James Jones, who has been a vital part of Southside’s success all season.
“J.J.’s not just a vocal leader – we have a lot of vocal leaders – but he’s backed it up,” Kellum said. “He’s got great work ethic. He’s working hard every day at practice. He gets a lot of injuries but he doesn’t lay down or make excuses, he just gets after it.”
The Seahawks’ offense, led by running back’s Johnnie Pender, Terrill Moore and Rokeem Miller, was also on point against the Cougars. Last week, the trio tallied 230 rushing yards on 39 attempts. Pender led the way as he ran for 83 yards and three scores.
Kellum said his wing-T offense needs to continue to be able to grind out yards and put points on the board.
“We’re a lot better team when we maintain our drives,” Kellum said. “Our offense is real methodical: four yards, two yards, three yards at a time. We have a lot of long drives but we have to finish them off.”
Manteo, the No. 6 ranked team in the state, is capable of producing lengthy drives as well. The Redskins run an option offense that can be difficult to defend because of the amount of different looks they can present a defense.
“They don’t have a base, they run about 40 different formations,” Kellum said. “They run the same plays but they run them out of a lot of different formations.”
While Southside will be geared up to stop the run, the defense will also be very aware of Manteo’s passing attack.
“Well, that’s how they beat us last year,” Kellum said. “We had a 27-6 lead going into the fourth quarter and they started passing.”
Tonight’s matchup pits two hot teams against each other as Southside has won four games in a row and Manteo is riding a five-game winning streak that has been fueled by a defense that has only allowed one team to score over 10 points during that stretch. That one team was Plymouth, who is playing in the District Round against Creswell on tonight with the winner of that matchup facing the winner of tonight’s Southside-Manteo contest in the Sectional Round.