Area teams kickoff tonight

Published 8:12 pm Thursday, August 16, 2012

South Creek’s Malik Gilbert runs with the ball after making an interception during a scrimmage earlier this summer. The Cougars will begin the 2012 football season tonight at home against North Edgecombe. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

The time for scrimmages and 7-on-7s is over as the Southside, Northside, Plymouth, South Creek and Riverside are set to begin the 2012 season tonight.
Each team heads into the opener with something to prove and all are looking to get off to a good start when the whistle blows for the opening kickoff.
Southside, Northside, South Creek and Riverside will all begin the new season on the road as the Seahawks will be at North Duplin, the Panthers will travel to Creswell, the Cougars will be at North Edgecombe and the Knights will hit the road to face Ayden-Grifton.
Plymouth will get to start the season at home as the Vikings will entertain Farmville Central.
Here’s a look at the matchups:

Southside (0-0) at
North Duplin
Southside’s season will begin on the road tonight as the Seahawks will square off with North Duplin, a team that finished third in the Carolina Conference last season with a 6-5 (3-2) record.
The Seahawks, who went 7-6 in 2011, shifted to a 4-4 defense during the offseason and that unit will face a stiff challenge in its 2012 debut.
“(North Duplin) runs the triple option and they run it as good as anybody in the state,” Southside coach DeWayne Kellum said.
Southside will counter with its wing-T attack, which will be spearheaded by returning senior wingback Rokeem Miller.
As of now, the Seahawks will have to do without fellow running back Johnnie Pender who started last season but has not attended camp regularly this summer.
Starting in his place at fullback will be junior Andrew Jones.
“Andrew Jones is a good athlete. He’s stepped right in and learned the position,” Kellum said. “He’s done a wonderful job and he’s also one of our outside linebackers and has done a heck-of-a job.”
In order for the Seahawks to be successful tonight, Kellum’s team must do a heck-of-a job against the Rebels’ offense.
“We’re going to have to stop that option,” Kellum said. “Then, we’re going to have to control the clock and the ball.”

Northside (0-0) at
Creswell (0-0)
Northside will get its first chance to wash the sour taste out of its mouth from its 0-9 season of a year ago tonight as the Panthers hit the road to clash with Creswell.
A year ago, Northside was a young team that struggled to find it self, but this season those players have grown and Boyd is hoping that the team’s win total will too.
Boyd said there have been several standout players this summer.
“We’re excited about getting a chance to play again,” Boyd said. “Kentrell Washington at wingback was a pretty good performer for us at our last scrimmage and we’re hoping to get some good things from him.
“All in all, it’s hard to single out one person because we feel like so many of the younger kids have made some great strides. They have been in the weight room for another year and have gotten a little bit bigger and stronger and everyone is just a little bit better because they have played for a year.”
Those young players will take on a tough Creswell team that won the Tideland Conference in 2011 with a 9-3 record.
Because it’s the first game of the year, Boyd said the Tigers are still a bit of an unknown but expects tonight’s contest to be a good one.
“I don’t know a whole lot about them this year so when we go see them it will be for the first time,” Boyd said. “I know they lost a few kids that were key players for them last year, but I do know they have some young kids coming back in some key spots too.
“We’re certainly looking at the score from last year (a 36-20 Week 1 loss) and they handled us pretty well. We’re not taking them lightly.”

Farmville Central (0-0)
at Plymouth (0-0)
The much-anticipated 2012 Plymouth football season starts tonight at home against Farmville Central.
The Vikings return several key players from their 2011 squad that went 11-2 to clinch a share of the Four Rivers Conference crown and advance to the third round of the playoffs.
With wingbacks like Kendrick Pitt and Quadree Pettiford back to take handoffs for another season behind a veteran offensive line, the Plymouth offense will no doubt be a force. The same could be said for the team’s defense.
With both sides of the ball looking strong, what has Plymouth coach Robert Cody the most concerned is the play of his special teams.
“I feel good about our team but we just need to work on the kicking game,” Cody said. “That’s a big part of football and you don’t ever know how it’s going to go the first game.
“You scrimmage twice but don’t kick. A dropped punt or a blocked punt can kill you in a heartbeat.”
The Vikings will look to keep the miscues to a minimum as they take on a hungry Farmville Central (0-10, 0-6, Eastern Plains) team that went winless in 2011 and will no doubt be looking to end its losing streak tonight.

Riverside (0-0) at
Ayden-Grifton (0-0)
For the first time under head coach Asim McGill Riverside will be running a 3-4 defense and the new alignment as brought on a new attitude as far as the Knights’ defense goes.
In the past, Riverside’s defense operated under the mantra of ‘pressure busts pipes’ but this season McGill is hoping that reading is more fundamental.
“We’re going to do things a little differently this year,” McGill said. “In the past we have been a blitz every down type team. This year, we have some kids in the middle that we think can do a good job of reading. We’re going to let them read first then attack, at least we’re going to start off that way.”
The Knights went 7-6 last year and will begin the 2012 season against Carolina Conference champions Ayden-Grifton, who went to the NCHSAA 1-AA state title game and fell 20-14 to Swain.

South Creek (0-0) at North Edgecombe (0-0)
South Creek coach Jeremy Jones said his team will have to lean on its defense for the early portion of the season and that unit’s first test will be to slow down the wishbone attack of a North Edgecombe team that won the Tar-Roanoke Conference last season with a 8-4 (5-1) record.
Leading the way on defense will be defensive tackle-turned-middle linebacker Jaquan Durham who looked strong during the team’s scrimmage with Riverside, Plymouth and South Central.
“He’s ready to go,” Cougars coach Jeremy Jones said. “He’s looked good at middle linebacker and I decided he’s going to run the football a little bit as well. We might got back under center a little bit here and there and he gives a big fullback look.”
Jones’ team will be in for a battle tonight as it takes on a physical North Edgecombe team.
“On offense they run a wishbone and they’re going to run their big guys at us and try and punch holes,” Jones said. “We have to be sound and tackle. You can’t guess at where the football is because if you guess wrong then there’s going to be points on the board. We have to be careful, we preached that all week.”