Friday Football Previews: Northside, Southside open playoffs at home

Published 5:50 pm Thursday, November 17, 2016

The regular season has come and gone. Two of Beaufort County’s three teams remain as Northside and Southside gear up for the playoffs.

The Panthers are entering largely unchartered waters. They earned a postseason bid two years ago when this successful core was younger, but didn’t advance past the first round. Expectations are higher this year. Northside, the No. 3 seed in its bracket, opened the season with four straight wins — doubling its win total from a year ago — and has all the tools to make a run.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks, the No. 2 seed on the opposite side of the east’s bracket, know what to expect as they enter the playoffs. The vast majority of this year’s team was on hand for last season’s run to the regional championship.

The Seahawks and Panthers each hope they can make some waves. Both will hope to get off to the right foot Friday evening at home.



Time: 7:30 p.m.

Location: Southside

Southside begins its postseason campaign with a familiar opponent. Southside and South Creek met during each team’s non-conference stretch. The game was played in Robersonville, and it was the Seahawks earning a convincing 41-16 win.

Power was the name of the game for Southside’s ground attack. Trajan Rhome led the Seahawks with a dozen carries for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Zikijah Crawford, Kyle Hill and Joe Myers each scored, too.

Southside struck early and often with two touchdowns in each of the first three periods.

However, Southside’s backfield corps has been struggling to stay healthy since then. Myers hasn’t played since getting one carry in a loss to Jones Senior on Oct. 18. The Seahawks played their regular-season finale two weeks ago, so the time off should go a long way in making sure key players are ready to go for the first round of the playoffs.

At the same time, a theme for Southside’s offense this season has been its ability to adapt. Most players have had breakout games at different points in the season. Brandon Sullivan was the most recent one. He torched Pamlico County for 124 yards and four touchdowns last time out.

If fellow fullback Rhome’s success against the Cougars was any indication, Sullivan’s power should do him well again on Friday.

Defensively, Southside held South Creek to fewer than 200 yards from scrimmage in the last meeting. Six players had a tackle for loss. Following a similar formula should help the Seahawks stop the Cougars behind the line of scrimmage.

South Creek won just one of its five games after the loss to the Seahawks. Coincidentally, that victory came against another struggling team, and Northside’s first-round foe Rocky Mount Prep. The Cougars have little momentum, meaning they could face an early exit.




Location: Northside

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Between a 50-0 thumping of Lejeune in its last game and two weeks off, Northside is riding high into what it hopes can be a successful playoff run.

After starting 4-0, the Panthers went on a three-game skid. They rebounded from that by winning three of their last four, which included a season-defining win over Jones Senior. Their lone loss in that span was to top-ranked East Carteret.

Northside has plenty of momentum, but Rocky Mount has none. The Jaguars have lost five games in a row. Throughout the season, they’ve conceded over twice as many points as they’ve scored (180 points for to 382 points against).

The team’s 44-man roster is loaded with upperclassmen, but Rocky Mount only has seven seniors. Nicholas Franklin, a two-way player at running back and linebacker, is a leader on both sides of the ball.

Of the Jaguars’ five players listed over 250 pounds, four are upperclassmen. Northside’s size up front, which has been a factor in its success this year, will be tested. It won’t be anything new to the Panthers, though. They’ve seen a good mix of imposing lines — like North Pitt’s — and athletic fronts.

In Northside’s final regular-season game, Jonathan Clark, James Barrow and Tyrece Taylor each amassed over 50 yards on the ground. Clark led the team with 12 carries for 76 yards, and Barrow’s 60 yards put him over the 1,000-yard mark on the season. He had two touchdowns, and five other Panthers scored, too.

Barrow and his fellow seniors have seen Northside come into its own in the last few years. They’re locked and loaded, aiming for their first playoff win as a group. Despite not much postseason experience, this group has the drive to accomplish something special. That should help propel them post Rocky Mount, and perhaps even further.