PLAYOFF PREVIEW: Local teams vie for spot in second round

Published 1:16 pm Thursday, November 13, 2014

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS COMEBACK KIDS: An energized Southside team runs on the field prior to last week’s Pamlico County game in Bayboro. The Seahawks lineup against 3-8 Creswell in Chocowinity tonight.

COMEBACK KIDS: An energized Southside team runs on the field prior to last week’s Pamlico County game in Bayboro. The Seahawks line up against 3-8 Creswell in Chocowinity tomorrow.

Last week, a 178-yard rushing performance against North Johnston moved the area’s most prolific runner over the 5,000-career yardage mark. Washington’s Markel Spencer has exceeded most preseason expectations in 2014 and is quickly becoming the county’s most coveted college prospect, leading the Eastern Plains Conference in rushing yards, while remaining tied with Southwest Edgecombe’s Devontrell Hyman in total points.

And his 150-plus-yard stat line against the Panthers was nothing out of the ordinary. Spencer has crested that mark in every conference game en route to 1680 total yards this season.

Conference play is nothing but a memory now, as Washington, Northside and Southside prepare to host first round state playoff matchups today.

Washington’s 48-0 road win over a reeling North Johnston team didn’t prove much in the grand scheme of things, but it did give head coach Sport Sawyer the chance to showcase some of his backups and jayvee players against a varsity defense. Junior Clinton Pope capitalized on the playing time with nine carries with 107 yards rushing. Defensively, the usual suspects — Brandon Jackson, Lexroy Brown and Eric Peartree — all had standout performances.

Northside made quick work of Lejeune at home last week with a 52-18 win. Despite another strong offensive performance from senior Rockne Butler, who posted six touchdowns for the second-straight game along with 231 yards rushing, the Panthers’ defense allowed three Devil Pup touchdowns, the most they’ve scored all season.

Southside lost a heartbreaker in Bayboro last week in a game that decided the Coastal Plains Conference championship. The 34-16 final score may seem lopsided, but the Seahawks held the Hurricanes to just seven points in the first half. However, through the final 24 minutes, head coach Jeff Carrow’s offense committed a slew of turnovers, forcing the defense to start within its own red zone on multiple occasions.

With a spot in the second round on the line, throw away the records, as Beaufort County’s top footballers prepare to light up the gridiron in front of their home fans.



Conference play may have ended, but the Pam Pack finds itself facing a familiar foe in the first round. North Pitt enters with a 4-7 record after finishing fourth in the Eastern Plains.

Entering as winners of two-straight at the time, the Panthers, coached by David Boal, were routed by Washington on Halloween, 32-7. The following week, they were held scoreless against a quality Farmville Central team, one Washington edged on a last-second touchdown run from Markel Spencer in the conference opener.

It seems a team that looked like it was in the midst of turning its season around a month ago has become offensively stagnant of late.

It’s a great matchup for a Washington defense that’s giving up less than 11 points per game this season, a defense that features seven players with over 30 tackles, including Peartree, who leads his team with 8.5 sacks.

And for the first time in over a month, Washington enters a game completely injury free among starters. Senior linebacker Jamond Ebron returns and will slowly ease his way back into the starting role with small, sporadic contributions at linebacker, Sawyer said.

With a healthy front seven and an offense that’s impressed of late, the Pam Pack should have little problem advancing to the second round.



PINETOWN — In a rather surprising turn of events, the Panthers’ win over Lejeune has given them the opportunity to host a first round playoff game. Like Washington, Northside meets an opponent head coach Keith Boyd has become all-too familiar with over the last few years.

North Duplin enters boasting a 4-7 record after finishing in the basement of the Carolina Conference. In Week 2, fresh off a 43-22 win against Southside in their season opener, the Rebels traveled to Pinetown and were defeated, 44-27, by a fully staffed Northside team that had conference championship aspirations.

Of course, neither the Rebels’ win over Southside nor Northside’s win over the Rebels forecasted the tough regular season slate that would follow for either squad. On the other hand, tomorrow’s game is primed to be the most competitive of the three in the county. North Duplin’s defense is allowing an average of 45 points over its last five games and Northside’s offense has been on a tear of late, averaging 43 points per game through its last three (2-1 record).

With both teams fielding reeling defenses, this should be a slugfest and a high-scoring affair.



One thing is certain, Southside’s offense, even with standout fullback Dylan Lewis still nursing an injury, is destined to come out angry after last week’s offensive Fossil Bowl debacle in Bayboro.

Starting quarterback Marshall Medlock, who left in the third quarter with a minor arm injury, is a go for tomorrow night, along with three of the other four main pieces to Carrow’s wing-T attack.

Creswell, an area team that finished 3-8 and sixth in the nine-team Coastal 10 Conference, has improved offensively with each game, but it’s the front seven has struggled in most of the team’s 11 games this season.

The Seahawks, which are averaging about 37 points per game, should have little probably posting 40 on the scoreboard.