Northside, Southside look good in first scrimmage

Published 4:41 pm Thursday, August 10, 2017

PINETOWN — Northside hosted Southside and a handful of other teams for the first day of preseason football scrimmages. The Panthers both got chances to see how they stack up against some teams they’ll see later on, like Pamlico County.

All things considered, both Beaufort County squads had a good showing in their first time lining up against other teams. Neither quarterback, nor player on either Southside or Northside, was afraid to get knocked around.

“It wasn’t just Will (Warren), but he did roll in and say he wanted to get hit,” Southside coach Jeff Carrow chuckled. “He got hit a few times tonight, so he got a taste of varsity football.”

Southside and Northside got to stand toe-to-toe with big fronts. North Pitt, a 2-A club, generally boasts a line that can handle smaller 1-A programs. Manteo brought size in the trenches, too.

Matthew Marslender opts to keep the ball and run during a scrimmage on Wednesday.

Marslender excels with Panther offense

Matthew Marslender got to show off the extent of his knowledge of Northside’s offensive system. The senior signal caller worked tandem with running backs like Tyree Blount and Johnathan Clark. He also showed what he’s capable of with the read-option offense when he ripped off two quick touchdown runs against Bertie.

He put in work on defense, too. At safety, he came down to stop the run a handful of times. Marslender even threw his body at a much larger North Pitt running back, halting him long enough to get some help.

“Matthew made some great reads. Tyree Blount ran hard, Johnathan Clark ran hard,” coach Keith Boyd said. “Defense, all in all, was a great effort getting around to the football.”

Raydarius Freeman attempts to leap over opposing defenders.

Lewis doesn’t miss a step

Senior defensive tackle Gray Lewis hadn’t played organized football since his recreation days. He didn’t appear to be one bit rusty on Wednesday. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound lineman was a powerhouse up front. He was able to use his strength to close gaps and stop opposing running backs before they could find any open space.

“Gray, I think the first play or two, he kind of got pushed back a little bit,” Boyd said. “Gray decided he didn’t want to get pushed around anymore, so he pushed back. I have to look at the film, but certain things I saw, Gray played on their side a lot. If he wants to push you around, he’s got the ability. He just has to understand that he’s got to have that mentality all the time.”

Demetrius Ebron plunges into the end zone on Wednesday.

Warren can sling the ball

Will Warren was an effective quarterback for Southside’s junior-varsity club last season. The coaches knew he had the tools, but there was a question of how he’d adjust to varsity play.

He adjusted nicely in the scrimmage setting. He took a few stiff hits and appeared no worse for the wear. Warren was able to air the ball out effectively, too. Against North Pitt, he made a pinpoint touchdown connection with Cody Modlin on a post route. He tossed a bomb to Demetrius Ebron late in the Seahawks’ series with Manteo. On the last play against the Redskins, Warren made the handoff to Amari Peele, who took off along the left side for a long run to the end zone.

“At split end … I don’t have to worry about which one is out there. I know I can call a play and be good with it,” Carrow said of Warren’s targets in Modlin and Ebron. “That last play, I was really happy. It was well-executed, and we had a couple of big blocks in the series.”

Amari Peele runs along the left side against Pamlico County.

Seahawks run game very much a committee approach

No Southside running back emerged as a sure-fire feature player in the first scrimmage. Just like Ebron and Modlin handled receiving duties evenly, the likes of Peele and Brandon Sullivan proved they can make plays with the ball in their hands.

Sullivan was able to plow up the middle for a touchdown against North Pitt’s defense. Peele was explosive as he managed to run well against most teams Southside faced. He had the aforementioned last-play score against Manteo.

“It was a team effort,” Carrow said. “… I like how we started out physical and finished physical. I thought all the backs ran the ball well. … Trajan Rhome and Jamari Nelson, I thought both those tailbacks did well running the ball.”