Thursday Football Preview: Beaufort County hits the road on less rest

Published 8:45 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Week 3 has come up a bit quicker than most expected. Threats of storms Friday evening forced local teams to move their games up from Friday to Thursday, meaning each team will be hitting the field with one fewer day of rest.

It’s a tall order for a Washington team that will be six days removed from a game against a physically imposing Tarboro squad. The Pam Pack, which fell to 0-2 after a 48-0 shutout, will face another mighty opponent in Conley. Southside and Northside will each hit the road for longer trips as the Seahawks look to stay undefeated early in the season and the injury-plagued Panthers hope to bounce back from a loss.



Location: Conley

Time: 7 p.m.

After Tarboro’s unrelenting ground assault last week, Washington will face another high-octane offense at Conley. The Vikings boast an attack that can strike effectively in the air or on the ground. It starts with quarterback Holton Ahlers. The East Carolina commit can do it all. He has the arm and crop of receivers to pass the ball, but the 235 pounder has also proven he can run the ball himself.

R.J. Daniels and C.J. Johnson are just two of Ahlers’ dynamic weapons. Both can line up at receiver or make plays out of the backfield. While the Pam Pack has talent at linebacker and in the secondary, Jon Blank’s defense will be tested in that it can’t overcommit one way or the other.

Defensively, Conley has given up 98 points in its first two games of the season. While that’s a lot of offense conceded in just two games, it should be noted that the Vikings began their season with road games against two championship hopefuls in Northeastern and Rocky Mount.

The latter may have exposed weaknesses in Conley’s secondary last week. Rocky Mount’s receivers were able to pick up 250 yards on just eight catches. Pam Pack quarterback Frederick Holscher made a handful of plays with his arm against Tarboro, so that may be an effective avenue to run the ball.

Hykeem Ruffin, Ganeryan Parker and Kaci Foreman struggled to run the ball consistently against Tarboro’s defensive front. Even though the Vikings will present a similar challenge, all three battled hard last week and should continue to do so this week.




Location: Perquimans

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Southside looks to extend its undefeated start to three in a row at Perquimans. The Pirates, under first-year head coach Ian Rapanick, are looking for their first win of the season. They’ve dropped games to two of Southside’s 1-A Coastal Plains foes in Northside and South Creek.

Northside rallied from an 18-6 deficit in the fourth quarter to win in Week 1. Last week, South Creek junior Jaylen Short rumbled for 227 of his team’s 443 rushing yards against the Pirates, further exposing weaknesses up front.

The Seahawks have the talent to run the ball effectively against a Perquimans team that’s struggled to stop things on the ground. Amari Peele and Trajan Rhome both have 100 rushing yards through the first two games. There’s also a host of other players like the more physically imposing Brandon Sullivan and the agile Jonquil Haywood.

Perquimans’ defense won’t be able to key in on stopping Southside’s running backs, though. The Seahawks have players that can break loose down field, and quarterback Will Warren has shown he can hit them for big-time plays. Peele already has a 70-yard catch to his name this year.

Defensively, Southside’s linebackers and secondary will be confronted by a Pirate offense that likes to throw the ball. It used screen passes well against a Northside team that wasn’t sure what it would expect in the season opener. The front will also be tasked with keeping its eyes on a slippery quarterback in Mason Votava.

It’s not a stretch to think that, with two game’s worth of tape, the Seahawks’ stout defense will be prepared. The offense may be a little slow out of the gate thanks to the weird week, but it should end up taking what it wants.




Location: Columbia

Time: 7 p.m.

Despite the forecast for Friday night, Northside and Columbia have no plans to move their game originally scheduled for Friday evening.

Northside will head to Columbia with hopes of getting back in the win column after a 28-12 loss at North Duplin the week before. However, the Panthers will field a patchwork offensive and defensive line. Injuries, which can be debilitating for any 1-A program, have been concentrated in the trenches early this season.

North Duplin exploited the inexperience and lack of chemistry up front, which was a byproduct of injuries to key linemen like Gray Lewis. The senior tandem of Williams Archer and Kenny Sheppard combined for 286 yards and four touchdowns.

Columbia, on the other hand, enters the game with only one other outing under its belt: a 54-6 shellacking at the hands of Harrells Christian Academy. The Wildcats conceded 353 rushing yards in the lopsided loss. Five different players ran for at least 30 yards. Five different Crusaders also found the end zone.

Weather has kept the Panthers off the practice field during some of the days heading into their Week 3 game. That will make it tougher for some of the younger linemen slotting into larger roles to not only be better prepared, but also more comfortable when they take the field at Columbia. Regardless, they can get by on the basics while the likes of Matthew Marslender, Johnathan Clark, Tyree Blount and Raydarius Freeman use their raw athleticism to move the ball.

Northside is coming off a strong defensive performance. It was a 2-point game at North Duplin until the Rebels notched a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Senior linebacker Parker Boyd had arguably the best game of his career last week. He notched his second interception of the season and had a game-high 14 tackles.

The Panthers may be able to get by on the strength of their linebackers and stout secondary, especially if Columbia’s offense is still finding its footing.