Friday Football Preview: Southside a win away from regional championship return

Published 5:54 pm Thursday, December 1, 2016


Location: Southside

Time: 7:30 p.m.

One win separates Southside from a return to the 1-A regional championship game. In its way is a familiar Northampton County team that the Seahawks had to top in the second round en route to last season’s semifinal appearance.

Much like Southside, the Jaguars have had to retool a bit this season. Gone from that 2015 squad is most of what was a talented backfield. Seahawks fans may remember the formidable duo of Ja’Quan Buffaloe and Montrell Squire. They led Northampton with a combined 1,913 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns. Buffaloe found the end zone twice last year in Chocowinity, and Squire had a team-best 137 rushing yards and score of his own.

Northampton also graduated its third- and fourth-best rushers in William Cumbo and Arcelious Valentine. The personnel is different with this year’s younger Jaguars team, but the system is very much the same. Juniors Stepheon Ashe and Jevontae Hicks, as well as sophomores Tevon Shoulders and Ziqayreyeis Pittman, have stepped right into a familiar offense.

“They look solid. Obviously, every team we see at this point is going to be solid,” Seahawks coach Jeff Carrow said. “They do a lot of smash-mouth football. There’s some wishbone stuff, which is kind of what they did last year. They’re more in the bone this year. They’re going to smash and run right at us. We’ve got to be able to answer that call.”

Southside should be confident in its defensive abilities. The linebacker corps has been strong all year long, and the secondary has been able to make plenty of plays. Up front, the Seahawks have made plenty of strides on the defensive line that will go a long way in stopping the run.

The Seahawks and Jaguars rough each other up during last season’s second-round playoff game. The two meet again in the third round this season.

The Seahawks and Jaguars rough each other up during last season’s second-round playoff game. The two meet again in the third round this season.

KIPP Pride ran a similar offense against the Seahawks last week. They were able to shut it down. The similarities between the ways the two teams run their offense aren’t too much of a Southside advantage, though.

“It’s kind of like what KIPP Pride had, but (Northampton) is a little bit better at it,” Carrow said. “… Defending the wishbone, everybody that runs it — kind of like everybody that runs the wing-T — there’s a little tweak to it with what they do and how they do it. … We have to be able to adjust with the small adjustments with how they run their wishbone.”

Northampton had to replace some key players on its offensive line, too. Like the Seahawks, the Jaguars aren’t too big up front, but they’re athletic.

“Their offensive line isn’t huge, but they’ve impressed us on film,” Carrow said. “They’re one of the best offensive lines we’ve seen all year on film. They’re pretty athletic. Of course, this is 1-A football, so those guys play defense, also. It’s about the same on the defensive side.”

Southside’s offense played a near-perfect game last week in its 60-8 thrashing of KIPP Pride. The Seahawks outgained the Pride 483-187, despite running almost 40 fewer plays.

Zikijah Crawford, Kyle Hill and others have efficiently run the ball for the Seahawks, but this isn’t the same offense Northampton saw a year ago. Quarterback Marshall Medlock has added another wrinkle to the system. He threw a pair of touchdowns against KIPP Pride, and his three completions racked up 137 yards.

This will be Southside’s sixth home playoff game at home in the past two seasons. It’s been an area of focus for Carrow that has paid dividends for the Seahawks’ postseason success.

“We pride ourselves in trying to be at home in the playoffs,” he said. “It goes a long way. We always have good support with our fans and community. It’s a huge advantage.”