FRIDAY FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Local teams open up conference play

Published 12:24 pm Thursday, October 8, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS CARRYING WEIGHT: County rivals Northside and Southside meet in Chocowinity tonight for the 14th annual Anchor Bowl. Pictured is Northside quarterback Jackson Midgette with Southside linebacker Nigel Peele in chase.

CARRYING WEIGHT: County rivals Northside and Southside meet in Chocowinity tomorrow night for the 14th annual Anchor Bowl. Pictured is Northside quarterback Jackson Midgette with Southside linebacker Nigel Peele in chase.

As the floodwaters begin to recede and the sun shines down on Beaufort County’s gridirons, it’s once again time for football, as all three county teams open up conference play on some spongy playing surfaces.

It’s been an unusual couple weeks for Washington, a young team that is still considered among the favorites to take the Eastern Plains Conference for a third-straight year. And the Pam Pack certainly enters the second half of the season battle tested after a grueling four-day stretch last week.

The seemingly never ending torrential rain gave Washington a much-deserved break, but sleep came at a premium for head coach Sport Sawyer in the days leading up to and in between last Monday’s battle against undefeated Kinston and last Thursday’s sloppy road matchup with regional power Plymouth. Emerging from the stretch 1-1 — a 20-14 loss to Kinston and a 25-17 win over Plymouth — Sawyer is banking on a newly instated dual-quarterback system in hopes of picking up EPC win No. 1 tomorrow at home against Farmville Central, a team that has kept it close with Washington in previous matchups.

“They have played us very solid the last few of years, a couple changes here and there and they possibly win those games,” Sawyer said. “We’re not taking them lightly at all. There is stuff we still need to improve on — more passing and staying on some blocks. We fumbled the ball a little too much last week as well.”

While the Pam Pack is coming off a congested week, it’s essentially been the opposite situation for Southside, which hasn’t played a game in 21 days. Due to flooding, Monday’s rescheduled game against South Creek (originally slated for last Friday) was canceled, a momentum-crushing blow for an undefeated Seahawks team already coming off a bye week.

With limited practice time to prepare, Southside meets rival Northside tomorrow in Chocowinity and while the Seahawks are still heavily favored, head coach Jeff Carrow admits it’s always an interesting 48 minutes whenever these two teams meet.

“They’re anxious and ready to get back at it, but for repetition, especially offensively, we need to get back into the swing of things,” he said. “As always, every time we play Northside it’s going to be a battle. (Coach Keith Boyd) does a great job defensively over there and we know we’ll see multiple defensive fronts … Keith knows us real well and we know them decent enough. Every now and then we’ll throw some wrinkles into it and he does too, but for the most part, we know what we’re walking into.”


WASHINGTON (3-3, 0-0 Eastern Plains) VS. FARMVILLE CENTRAL (3-3, 0-0 Eastern Plains)

Location: Choppy Wagner Stadium

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Over the last two years, the Pam Pack has owned the EPC, posting a 10-0 record, but the perfect record hasn’t been entirely flawless. In each of the last two conference slates, Farmville Central has given Washington a strong defensive game. Last season, if not for a stunning 89-yard run from senior running back Markel Spencer with under a minute left, the Jaguars would have walked away with a 12-7 victory.

But these are two entirely different teams in 2015, each showing their fair share of inconsistency throughout nonconference play. The Jaguars’ front seven, an area formally stocked with talent, is now somewhat depleted, allowing just under 20 points per game. And Washington’s historically good defense in 2014 is experiencing a similar phenomenon, giving up 26 points per content.

Both these squads have weapons on offense, however, beginning with Farmville Central running back Kashon Baker. The senior, listed at 5-foot-7, 160 pounds, is a scrappy and elusive back that leads his team in virtually every rushing category. With senior quarterback Shaft Parker questionable for tomorrow’s game, coming off an ankle injury, Baker will be leaned on heavily in head coach Scott Gardner’s run-heavy system.

And after middle-of-the-road showings from Washington running backs Clinton Pope and Jarquez Keyes last week against Plymouth, that complementary backfield pair will look to get back on track running the football. Also, look for quarterback Tripp Barfield, who is expected to get the start, to work some passing plays into the offense.



NORTHSIDE (2-4, 0-0 Coastal Plains) AT SOUTHSIDE (5-0, 0-0 Coastal Plains)

Location: The Nest

Time: 7 p.m.

CHOCOWINITY — Following a promising 2-0 start, Northside has dropped its last four games heading into tomorrow’s Anchor Bowl, while Southside, despite the time off, has looked like one of the top teams in 1-A thus far. That being said, when these two teams share a gridiron, raw emotion can be the difference in an upset or a blowout.

In recent weeks, it’s been the Panthers’ running game that’s had difficulty gaining any sort of momentum. In a 42-0 home loss to Riverside on Sept. 18, Northside tallied just 69 yards on the ground, an average of 2.3 yards per carry. Despite a strong defensive performance against North Pitt last week, the backfield still struggled to move the chains. That won’t cut it against a proven Southside defense, one that’s given up just 15 points a contest.

While sloppy field conditions are expected, the game plan isn’t changing for Carrow, who will do what he does best every week — run the football. Running back Lawrence Brown and wingback Matt Baxter have combined for more than 1000 rushing yards to go along with 13 touchdowns in just five games.

Northside will attempt to press the line of scrimmage, keep the Seahawks under a constant state of pressure and follow the ball in the wing-T. On offense, coach Boyd will need a big day out of quarterback Jackson Midgette to have any shot at pulling off the upset.