Stepping Up: Stage set for another classic clash

Published 4:15 pm Thursday, December 8, 2016

This football season has provided tons of fun games to watch. Washington, even in a down season, played some close games. Northside had its best season in over a decade, while Southside continues to cement itself as one of the area’s top squads.

There were a lot of nail biters along the way. Matthew Marslender stole a game for the Panthers at Jones Senior. The Seahawks narrowly lost a double-overtime contest against a talented Riverside team.

There were some blowouts in favor of Beaufort County, too. Northside lambasted Rocky Mount Prep, 61-12, in the first round of the playoffs, and Southside dropped 60 on KIPP Pride in the second round.

As enjoyable as some of those games were, nothing tops a rivalry. Some of those took place right here in the county. Among the highest-attended games were the meetings between the Seahawks and Panthers. The two local foes and conference rivals split their home-and-home series, each winning on the road.

One of the most heated rivalries around will be revisited on Friday. For the second time in as many years, Southside travels out to Plymouth for the 1-A eastern regional championship. The Seahawks and Vikings faced off last year with a trip to the state championship on the line, and squared off in the third round in 2014, too.

This is as close as one can get to a local equivalent of the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Southside and Plymouth rarely, if ever, meet in the regular season. When they meet in the playoffs, the stakes are always at their highest.

The last two games against the Vikings haven’t gone Southside’s way. The Seahawks were sent packing the last two years. Meanwhile, Plymouth won it all last year and came a field goal from doing so in 2014, too.

They’ve been among the best 1-A teams on this side of the state for sometime, much like the Warriors have been the most dominant team in the NBA’s western conference. Even the Warriors met their demise, though. Stephan Curry and his cast of superstars let a 3-1 series lead slip away as the Cavaliers rallied to win the 2016 NBA Championship.

Can something similar happen Friday night when the Seahawks try to avenge a string of losses to Plymouth? Perhaps. They’re trucking along. The offense has been potent, and the defense is as fine-tuned as ever.

No matter how things shape up for Southside, the regional championship has all the makings of a fantastic football game. Let’s hope this rivalry treats the area to another fantastic contest.