Friday Football Preview: Pam Pack the lone squad staying home

Published 8:02 pm Thursday, August 24, 2017

It’s time to shake things up. After being the only team on the road to open the season, Washington returns home to host Tarboro for its home opener. Meanwhile, Northside and Southside both hit the road for their first away games of 2017.

The non-conference stretch isn’t getting easier as the Pam Pack trades one 1-A powerhouse (East Carteret) for another (Tarboro). The Vikings produce strong fronts and skilled athletes just about every year, making it a tough Week 2 task. Washington has stood tall against formidable Tarboro squads in the past, but even noticeable improvement after getting shutout last season will be noteworthy.

Southside travels to Dixon for a meeting with a familiar non-conference opponent. The Seahawks were dealt a tough challenge to open the season when they hosted Ayden-Grifton, but shocked the area by shutting out their 2-A opponent. North Duplin, on the other hand, breezed past a struggling West Columbus team.

Northside hopes to play a complete game after squeaking out a win last week. It was the Panther secondary that was put to the test last week against a pass-heavy Perquimans team. This week, the defensive front, which helped keep Northside’s Week 1 comeback alive, will be tasked with halting a dominant stable of North Duplin running backs.



Location: Washington

Time: 7 p.m.

A week after coming up short as East Carteret stormed back late to secure a 28-27 win over Washington, the Pam Pack hosts a mighty 1-A club in Tarboro for its home opener. The Vikings, who blanked Washington in 2016, are coming off of a 49-7 win over 1-A runner up Plymouth.

It will be a lot of the same suspects for Tarboro this year. Quarterback Tae Randolph returns for his senior season. Joining him in the backfield is every running back that ran the ball against Washington last year. Senior Deontae Williams is a go-to guy for moving the ball on the ground. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark and scored twice against the Pam Pack in their last meeting.

Behind him, though, is a stacked group of capable players. Williams led Tarboro in carries in Week 1, but it was the junior tandem of Clifton Joyner Jr. and Jaquez Edge that scored two touchdowns each. Another junior in Keon Caudle proved threatening as he rumbled for a game-high 88 yards and a touchdown on just five touches.

Defensively, senior linebackers Jacoby Ward and Patrick Willoughby lead the Vikings. The two notched a combined 16 tackles, including one apiece for a loss. However Washington plans to attack, it will have to move the ball quickly. Quarterback Frederick Holscher can’t afford to take an extra second as those Tarboro linebackers come crashing down.

Hykeem Ruffin enjoyed modest success at Tarboro in 2016. After finding the end zone thrice at East Carteret, the powerful Pam Pack rusher will be relied upon heavily. Holscher should also head into this game with much more confidence than he had a year ago. He understands the offense infinitely better, and showed that against the Mariners in Week 1.




Location: Dixon

Time: 7 p.m.

Even though Southside is coming off a statement 26-0 shutout of 2-A opponent Ayden-Grifton, the Seahawks will have their hands full as they hit the road for the first time this season. Dixon rallied to win its opener over White Oak, scoring 20 points in the fourth to take it, 34-30.

Senior Bulldog quarterback Deante Jackson thrived under the pressure last week. He scored five touchdowns — including all three of his team’s in the fourth — to steal the win away from the Vikings. He finished the game with 141 of Dixon’s 297 yards on the ground.

Jackson and Dixon will have to line up against an aggressive defense that swarmed Ayden-Grifton every chance it got. Marcus Jones proved himself one of the most aggressive as he led the Seahawks with a pair of tackles for loss.

That said, the Bulldogs gave up plenty on the ground to find themselves in the hole Jackson dug them out of. White Oak was able to gash them for 413 yards on 47 carries. Southside had five running backs go for at least 30 yards against a bigger Charger defensive line. Trajan Rhome led the Seahawks with 53 yards and two touchdowns. Jonquil Haywood capitalized on the touches he got in the committee system, picking up 39 yards on just four attempts.

The Seahawks also broke open big plays through the air. Amari Peele hauled in a 77-yard catch. Demetrius Ebron also had a touchdown on his two receptions.

Dixon was able to hang onto the ball in its season opener, and special teams mishaps by White Oak kept them in the game. Turnovers and all-around execution will have a strong bearing on which way this matchup leans.




Location: North Duplin

Time: 7 p.m.

Northside and North Duplin, both coming off of Week 1 wins, add on to their rivalry Friday night. The Panthers needed a pair of Johnathan Clark touchdowns in the fourth quarter last week to scoot past a strong Perquimans team, 22-18. On the other hand, the Rebels scorched a West Columbus team that went 0-11 last season.

North Duplin’s offense rolled with seniors Colby Bass and William Archer. Bass led the Rebels with a staggering 177 yards on 18 touches (9.8 yards per carry), also scoring two touchdowns. Archer had 116 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 attempts. Others, like fellow senior Kenny Sheppard, shined, but expect Bass and Archer to get the majority of the reps.

Senior Dylan Jones and junior Jijah Blow led North Duplin on the defensive end. They combined for 15 tackles and helped their side limit West Columbus to just 89 rushing yards.

Northside didn’t take to the skies much in the win over Perquimans. In fact, it was the visiting Pirates that found success in the passing game. The Panthers may open the playbook up a bit more after West Columbus was able to throw for 124 yards against North Duplin. Quarterback Matthew Marslender has been developing his throwing technique. Airing the ball out could help stop North Duplin from stacking the box like Perquimans did.

The Panthers’ defensive front was arguably its most consistent unit from start to finish. Lineman Gray Lewis spearheaded a three-and-out that gave Northside a shot to win in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Parker Boyd came up with an interception that later turned into his team’s first touchdown of 2017.

The key will be consistency throughout the team. Northside’s offense didn’t find a rhythm until the second half last week. The Panthers can’t afford to come out sluggish in any phase of the game.