Friday Football Preview: Southside-North Duplin tops marquee for Week 5

Published 5:32 pm Thursday, September 14, 2017

Chocowinity is the site of one of this week’s hottest games in eastern North Carolina. The Seahawks host North Duplin as the two rivals ante up their respective undefeated streaks.

It marks the second game in a three-week home stand for Southside. Every team playing this week is hoping to gain as much momentum heading into next week’s conference openers. With a seemingly unstoppable Tarboro team looming next week, that will be especially true for the Seahawks.

Elsewhere, Washington returns home with its first win of 2017 under its belt. The Pam Pack showed grit in the way it came back to scoot by Northside last week. Now it hopes to win its first home game of the season to propel it into its league opener at Greene Central.

Northside is the lone Beaufort County team travelling this week. There will be a familiar feeling in the air for coach Keith Boyd and his staff. Boyd will get to square off against friend and colleague Sport Sawyer, who is in his first year as Manteo’s coach, for the first time in five years. Panthers’ defensive coordinator Walt Davis also has ties to Manteo.



Location: Southside

Time: 7 p.m.

Two teams will take the field in Chocowinity on Friday. Only one will escape with its undefeated start to the 2017 season intact.

Southside and North Duplin had been meeting in Week 1 for the past few seasons. The two will wrap up their non-conference slates against each other this year. The rivalry has typically been a barometer for each team. That will be especially true of this meeting.

The Rebels have found success thanks to their experience in the backfield. Three seniors have at least 350 rushing yards apiece and combine for 19 touchdowns. Quarterback William Archer coordinates North Duplin’s ground assault. His 400 yards is second only to fellow senior Kenny Sheppard. He and Colby Bass make up a two-headed monster for a running back rotation.

Northside traveled out to Calypso in Week 2. The Panthers were able to keep the game close, but Archer and Sheppard combined for 286 rushing yards and all four of the team’s touchdowns as it pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Northside, at an even 2-2, has the best record of any team North Duplin has faced thus far. The four teams the Rebels have beaten combine for just three wins over the first four weeks of the season.

Southside’s competition has been better. The Seahawks blanked Ayden-Grifton, now 2-2 after topping Farmville Central, in their season opener. Dixon and Perquimans did have many answers for Southside’s different modes of attack. It saw its first bit of adversity last week against Gates County. The Red Barons, rolling on back-to-back wins, opened a 14-0 lead in the first half. Southside came uncorked, though, in a 40-29 win.

The Rebels boast a defense as experienced as their offense. It may prove to be a challenge early on, but the Seahawks have shown they have too many different ways to move the ball. Trajan Rhome, Jamison Bennett and Amari Peele all have at least 200 rushing yards. Quarterback Will Warren has also had little problem finding Peele, Demetrius Ebron or Hunter Tyler when they’re open.

The encounter may be even in the first half, but Southside’s depth combined with its coaching expertise could very well allow it to take over again in the second half.




Location: Washington

Time: 7 p.m.

Bertie opened the season with a 34-20 road win against a stout 1-A club in Riverside. It dropped two close games in the following weeks: 16-14 in its home opener against Northampton County and an overtime loss at Gates County. It comes into its matchup with the Pam Pack after getting blasted, 54-20, by 1-A powerhouse Edenton.

Both teams would greatly appreciate ending the non-conference stretch with a win. Washington has a trip to Greene Central looming. Bertie looks forward to beginning conference play with a Manteo team coached by former Washington coach Sport Sawyer.

The Falcons have been known to use both senior Nate Cheeseboro and sophomore Isaiah Williams at quarterback. Both are capable of throwing the ball, but Cheeseboro — the signal caller likely to see the most snaps — is mobile. His 221 rushing yards rank second behind senior running back Lacurtis Askew, who has nearly 400 rushing yards and seven touchdowns through four games.

In the air, junior Jamari White has been the go-to target in the passing game. He has 10 catches for 332 yards. Washington did give up a big aerial play to Northside last week. However, between Conley and East Carteret, the Pam Pack has been tested by more spread-out and balanced offenses this season. It has an array of playmaking defensive backs. Turnovers will be crucial to this game, and an early interception for Washington could force Bertie to close the playbook a bit.

Turnovers can be a source of momentum for Bertie, too. The Falcons scored twice in the span of 12 seconds against Gates County when Askew punched in a touchdown and linebacker Emonte Mebane took an interception back on the first play of the ensuing drive.

Bertie has playmakers across the defensive field. Linebacker Oscar Jones is the team’s leading tackler. Cheeseboro, who plays two ways as a defensive back, has shown his smarts in the secondary. The Falcons will also own a size advantage in the trenches.

However, Washington has been working to fine-tune that which worked well at Northside while also adding new wrinkles to the playbook. Both the Pam Pack and Bertie have had trouble closing out games, so give the edge to the home team that has momentum.




Location: Manteo

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Former Washington head coach Sport Sawyer will square off against a Beaufort County foe for the first time since departing from the Pam Pack program last year. His Redskins, with three wins in four tries to begin the season, will welcome friend Keith Boyd and the Panthers.

Northside goes into the matchup hoping to bounce back from a close loss to Washington last week. On the other hand, Manteo is fresh off of its second shutout of the season — a 44-0 win over an upstart Bear Grass team. The Redskins’ competition has been spotty this season. They also blanked a winless Mattamuskeet team. Arguably their best test of the season was at First Flight two weeks ago. Manteo’s offense couldn’t reward an admirable defensive performance in a 19-7 loss.

Senior quarterback Will Brown has taken to the air on occasion. He’s 15-of-25 on the season with 250 passing yards and three touchdowns. He has a handful of targets. Senior running back Caz Wheeler’s five catches rank atop the team.

Wheeler and fellow senior Ian Johnson compose the majority of the Redskins’ ground offense. The two have over 650 rushing yards and eight touchdowns between them.

Northside’s defense has been challenged to stop the pass by multiple opponents. The experienced secondary has stepped up in doing so, sometimes using a team’s attempts to strike in the air against it. Parker Boyd has two picks on the season. Three others have one.

The Panthers’ front is more than capable of containing the run, too. Boyd, Cameron Cahoon and Raydarius Freeman lead a unit of stingy linebackers and edge rushers.

Northside opened the playbook for quarterback Matthew Marslender last week against the Pam Pack. Manteo also has five interceptions on the year, so looking to the air may not be the best mode of attack. Rather, the Panthers would be best suited riding the hot streak that has been its running back committee. Freeman scored three touchdowns in the loss to Washington. Marslender, Johnathan Clark and Tyree Blount all ran the ball well, too.