Conference play kicks off tonight

Published 7:18 pm Thursday, September 13, 2012

Week five marks the beginning of conference play and tonight’s Four Rivers Conference schedule is loaded with quality matchups.
Northside will jump back into action after having a bye week and will face No. 10 Plymouth, last year’s co-Four Rivers Conference champs, while Riverside host No. 7 Manteo, the team the Vikings split the league title with.
Southside will look to bounce back from a Week 4 loss to Midway as it entertains Camden, while South Creek and Perquimans meet in a matchup where both teams will be fighting for their first win of the season.
Here’s a look at the matchups:

Northside (2-1) at  No.10 Plymouth (3-1)
Northside enters the last leg of a grueling four-game road stretch that started its season as the Panthers will play their Four Rivers Conference opener against Plymouth, who split last year’s league title with Manteo and is ranked 10th amongst 1-A teams in the latest AP poll.
After their 42-0 Week 3 loss to Washington, the Panthers had a much-needed bye week and the extra time off has allowed some players to heal up and given head coach Keith Boyd more preparation time for the Vikings.
With quarterback Noel Howson, WB Kentrell Washington and LB Chris Woolard all questionable for tonight’s game due to injury, Boyd used that bye week to evaluate their potential replacements and adjust his schemes accordingly.
“We might have to lean on some guys and ask them to play more on both sides of the ball and we haven’t really had to do that the first two games of the season,” Boyd said. “On offense we might just have to run some different versions of our sets. We may not be double-wing a whole lot like we want to. When you don’t have the personnel for certain things than you have to make adjustments, especially when you’re playing 1-A football.”
While the Panthers are mending, it’s been smooth sailing for the Vikings who rebounded from their first loss of the year against Edenton by blowing out Rocky Mount Prep 52-12 last Friday.
“It was a good game for our football team,” Plymouth coach Robert Cody said. “I thought we blocked and tackled really well and everybody got to play.”
While his team has regained momentum, Cody’s club has no intentions of overlooking the Panthers.
“Northside looks really good this year. In the game film that I got from them they looked very good,” Cody said. “We got our work cut out for us.”
The Vikings’ explosive wing-T attack has averaged 32 points per game this year and Boyd said the key to being successful tonight is to hold on to the ball and keep Plymouth from ripping off huge runs.
“We what need to do is eliminate the big play and make them keep snapping it,” Boyd said. “If we can stay firm on defense and not allow their speed to come into the equation we are hoping we can be right there. I have a lot of confidence in this group.”

Camden (2-1) at Southside (2-2)
After playing four nonconference games, Southside is still searching for answers along its depth chart as it heads into tonight’s conference opener against Camden.
The Seahawks suffered a 34-21 loss to Midway its last time out, then had three starters miss practice on Monday, leaving Southside coach DeWayne Kellum to entertain the thought of finding their replacements.
“We had three players not come to practice that are starters so we spent the whole day trying to teach new people their positions,” Kellum said. “We need people to practice like they ought to. It’s very frustrating and it makes it hard to depend on them.”
The Seahawks will need every player they got tonight as they will face a much-improved Bruins team that won two straight before suffering a 70-6 setback at the hands of Northeastern last week.
“This is one of the best teams they have had in a while,” Kellum said. “They look a lot better than they have been, they’re real solid but I’m not as much into Camden as I am just trying to put a team on the field that will play. That’s all we’re trying to do right now.”
Kellum said finding the right personnel will be the biggest key to tonight’s contest.
“We have to find 11 people on each side of the ball that know what they’re doing and will get after it,” Kellum said.

Perquimans (0-4) at South Creek (0-4)
South Creek heads into tonight’s Four Rivers Conference opener feeling like tonight’s contest offers the best opportunity so far this season to pick up a win as it plays  against a Perquimans team that likely feels the same way. With Plymouth and Manteo on the schedule over the next two weeks, tonight’s game against the Pirates takes on added significance for South Creek.
The youthful Cougars have struggled mightily on offense as they have scored a total of six points in the last three contests.
“Basically, we’re playing a JV offense versus varsity competition,” South Creek coach Jeremy Jones said. “Last week we had three freshmen, six sophomores and two juniors playing on offense.”
South Creek is coming off of a 49-0 loss at the hands of Northampton and will clash with a Pirates team that fell 62-0 to Edenton.
Jones said the key this week is to sustain drives.
“We have to control the football,” Jones said. “Last week we had a lot of three-and-outs. … We have to be able to move the football and get it in the end zone.”

No. 7 Manteo (3-0) at Riverside (1-3)
Out of all the team’s playing tonight there might not be any that are more happier to start Four Rivers Conference play than Riverside. The Knights like to load their schedule with tough nonconference opponents and after they lost to Edenton, a strong 2-A team, and Washington, an explosive 3-A team, in back-to-back weeks Riverside is excited to be back on the field against a fellow 1-A squad.
“It’s exciting for me to get into conference play because now we’re playing people that’s our size,” Riverside coach Asim McGill said. “They do the same thing we do, and what I meant by that is they got a lot of players that play both ways like we do.”
The Redskins split the Four Rivers Conference championship last season with Plymouth and are off to a good start this year as they have won three straight, with their latest being a 34-21 victory over First Flight.
“Manteo is a really good football team. They’re kids play hard and do what their coach tells them to do,” McGill said. “They’re usually a more option-orientated team but this year they seem to be running a few more sweeps and traps.”
The Knights hung tough with the Pam Pack as they led 6-0 at halftime and could’ve padded that lead but could not punch the ball into the end zone on a key series in the second quarter.
The second half was all Washington as it took advantage of some Knights’ miscues to score 21 unanswered points.
It didn’t help that Riverside’s star linebacker Daniel Everett was sidelined in the second half with a knee injury, and McGill is hoping to get him back as soon as possible.
If not, Riverside, which is in the first year of its 3-4 defense, will make some necessary adjustments to compensate for his loss.
“He’s day-to-day, but if he can’t go we might have to add an extra defensive lineman,” McGill said. “It just depends.”
Bottom line is, Riverside can’t give the Redskins any cheap scoring opportunities.
“You have to make them score the ball with their offense,” McGill said. “They have to score with their offense and0 we can’t give them a short field. If we don’t get a first down, we have to punt the ball and make them drive.”