Friday Football Preview: Southside, Washington aim to get back in win column
Published 5:11 pm Thursday, September 28, 2017
It’s been two weeks since any Beaufort County football team has picked up a win. With Northside on its bye this Friday, it’s up to Southside and Washington to bring a victory to the county.
The Seahawks head out to Pamlico County knowing they’re better than consecutive losses would indicate. They have taken on a pair of undefeated teams in their last two outings, after all. It’s essential now to get back on track, even if it’s on the road, to remain in the mix for second place in the 1-A Coastal Plains Conference.
Washington isn’t in nearly the same position. With only one win on the season, the Pam Pack has reached a point where winning out is about the only path to a postseason appearance. It did a lot of good things at North Lenoir, but will hope a more disciplined game at home on Friday will be the key to picking up its second victory.
NORTH LENOIR (3-3, 0-1 2-A EASTERN CAROLINA) AT WASHINGTON (1-5, 0-1 2-A EASTERN CAROLINA)
Time: 7 p.m.
It’s sure to be an emotional evening in “Choppy” Wagner Stadium. Washington has faced plenty of adversity in the past two years. In the end, though, it’s still only a game and life goes on despite wins and losses.
The Pam Pack will honor Greg Cooper — a supporter of the program and father of Ethan Cooper, the senior starting center — at halftime. Cooper is facing adversity of his own in the form of ALS.
The emotionally charged Pam Pack will host North Lenoir, which is also looking for its first conference win after being obliterated, 40-6, at home by West Craven last week. Junior running back Ja’lyn McNeil scored the game’s first touchdown before his side was torched for 40 unanswered points.
The good news for Washington is that the Hawks are struggling in a lot of the same areas. They gave up 254 rushing yards on 41 attempts by West Craven’s balanced offense. Problems containing the run may open up lanes for the likes of Hykeem Ruffin and Ka’ci Foreman.
Moreover, North Lenoir was bashed for a handful of big plays through the air. West Craven had passing touchdowns of 65 and 91 yards in the first half. Pam Pack quarterback Frederick Holscher continued to find his groove at Greene Central last week. He and Dawson Elks linked up for a 41-yard gain on fourth-and-28. He’s also benefitting from Ja’quez Ruffin being eased back into the offense, as well as having his usual targets like Elks and Nazzir Hardy.
Washington will need to get a rhythm on the ground for those plays over the top to open up. Penalties held the Pam Pack back from establishing much of any rhythm last week, so a cleaner game will have to be the first focus.
North Lenoir coach Kim Brown told Junious Smith of the Kinston Free Press that the Hawks had to “work on ourselves” after the lopsided loss and that “Washington is the furthest things from our minds right now.” The Pam Pack may be able to catch North Lenoir off guard early on. If it can bring its home crowd roaring to life right out of the gate, expect Washington to ride that wave to its second win.
PREDICTION: WASHINGTON 35, NORTH LENOIR 28
SOUTHSIDE (4-2, 0-1 1-A COASTAL PLAINS) AT PAMLICO COUNTY (4-2, 1-0 1-A COASTAL PLAINS)
Location: Pamlico County
Time: 7 p.m.
Southside had its three-game home stand circled on the calendar. They hoped that it would propel them into last week’s league opener against top-ranked Tarboro. Instead, they went 1-2, albeit against two teams that are a combined 11-0.
Now, the Seahawks hope to continue their success away from Chocowinity. They’re 2-0 on the road as they head into a game against a Pamlico County team that has won two in a row.
Superstar athlete Lamont Murray leads the Hurricanes. He is part of a triple threat on the ground. Pamlico County has 1,573 of its 1,793 (88 percent) of its rushing yards come from Murray, senior Caleb Barron and freshman Sayvone Tutt. Murray has scored a team-best 10 times on the ground, and Tutt has nine touchdown six games into his rookie campaign.
All three have gotten involved on the odd occasion the Hurricanes take to the air. Both Murray and Barron have played under center this season.
Murray handles plenty of defensive duties, too. He leads Pamlico County with 42 tackles. Barron, linebacker Nolin Hankins and safety Stephan Misa all have at least 25 tackles apiece, too.
The Hurricanes are fresh off a 62-0 thumping of Jones Senior in their conference opener. Ayden-Grifton is the lone common opponent between them and the Seahawks. Southside shutout the Chargers in Week 1. Ayden-Grifton went on to rally for its first win, 34-28, the following week. Murray and Barron were, by far, the most offensively productive in the loss.
Southside’s defense will need to be sharp from the get go. Getting linebacker Brandon Sullivan back will give the Seahawks a much-needed presence in the middle of the field. Staving off any early surge by the Hurricanes will allow Southside time to assimilate some of its skill players coming back from injury.
PREDICTION: SOUTHSIDE 42, PAMLICO COUNTY 28