Thursday Football Previews: Local teams aim to right the ship

Published 5:49 pm Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Weather again has taken its toll on football season. With Hurricane Matthew expected to impact eastern North Carolina, Beaufort County teams preemptively bumped up their games from Friday to Thursday. Just as it has so many times this year, weather will again cost Washington, Southside and Northside a day of preparation.

The lost day is especially unfortunate this week as the three local teams collectively went 0-4 last week. Washington travels to Farmville Central and Northside hosts Southside in each team’s respective conference openers. The Seahawks will hope to avenge their loss at home to Northside earlier in the season while also bouncing back from a shutout loss to East Carteret last Thursday.

This is the portion of the season that each team has been preparing for. Washington and Southside both found plenty of success in league play and will hope to replicate that. Northside, on the other hand, hasn’t had much luck in its conference, but seems to have put together one of its best teams in the last decade.

It’s an exciting time of the year that certainly won’t be hampered by the impending storms this weekend.



Location: Northside

Time: 6:30 p.m.

The Panthers and Seahawks are slated to meet for the second time this year. This time, in the annual Anchor Bowl meeting, the conference standings are on the line. Both teams are coming off of losses last week. Northside dropped its homecoming game and non-conference finale to North Pitt, and Southside was blanked in its televised conference opener against East Carteret.

James Barrow rushed for 119 yards when these two met in a non-conference bout a month ago in Chocowinity. He scored once, and Panthers quarterback Jackson Midgette added two more touchdowns as Northside cruised to a 23-6 win.

The Southside trio of Brandon Sullivan, Kyle Hill and Joe Myers combined for 197 rushing yards, but their side struggled finishing drives. They oftentimes faced unfavorable field position. The Seahawks will hope for a better showing on special teams this time around to address that shortcoming.

Zikijah Crawford has emerged as the premiere running back for the Seahawks, but only had 19 yards on the ground in that loss. He’ll hope to bounce back in this rivalry rematch. Southside also boasts a powerful force in Trajan Rhome, who has burst onto the scene in recent weeks. His 187 yards sit third on the team’s rankings for rushing, and Crawford and Myers each have over 300.

Southside knows the size it will face up front and the problems that presents for moving the ball on the ground. Quarterback Marshall Medlock went 2-of-9 passing against Northside last time. However, he’s shown improvements and has had Crawford and Cody Modlin excel as targets.

Expect Southside to try to move the ball a bit more through to compensate for the size mismatch up front, but also to continue using the wealth of talent in the backfield.

Meanwhile, Northside will do a lot of the same things that led it to a 4-0 start to the season. The Panthers have lost their last two games, but those came at the hands of a top-notch Riverside team and a bigger, 2-A team in North Pitt.

There’s more on the line this time around, and the two sides know each other better, so expect a close contest in Pinetown.




Location: Farmville Central

Time: 7 p.m.

Washington came a field goal from its first win of the season, but ultimately fell to Plymouth in its non-conference finale. The Pam Pack continues to have the pieces slowly fall into place as quarterback Frederick Holscher threw for his first career touchdown.

Winless or not, Washington still has a chance to salvage the season with a successful run in the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference. Farmville Central, which has lost two of its last three outings, could be an ideal opponent for a strong start on that path.

The Jaguars will be without their starting quarterback Brad Shackleford, who was suspended for violating team rules. Any offensive woes on their end will be amplified by a Pam Pack defense that has excelled in recent weeks.

Washington’s defense has kept it in its last three games. It squared off a stout Kinston team less than two weeks ago and shut it out for the last 40 minutes of the game. It also held a Plymouth team that was coming off of back-to-back explosive offensive performance to just 17 points. It will be tasked with slowing down Farmville Central’s leading rushers in Deondre Davis and T.J. Willoughby.

The defense has proven its ability to make plays time and again throughout Washington’s last three games. The offense has slowly come together in that span. Suae Poe will continue to be the go-to ball carrier, while others like Hykeem Ruffin keep progressing.

Pam Pack signal caller Frederick Holscher has had a budding synergy with receiver Matt Black. The two connected on 5-of-6 passing attempts and had a touchdown. It helped Washington build its first lead of the season over an opponent, which was a promising sign despite the loss.

Washington will look to build a ground attack before asking Holscher to take to the air too much. The Pam Pack’s offensive line will be challenged by Jaguar linemen Alvin Grizzard (6-foot-8, 340 pounds) and Jaquez Norman (6-foot-3, 270 pounds).