Friday Football Preview: Washington, Northside each need wins on homecoming

Published 5:19 pm Thursday, October 5, 2017

Washington and Northside stay in Beaufort County while the Seahawks hit the road for the second time in as many weeks. The Panthers and Pam Pack will both be holding their homecoming festivities. Both will look to feed off the energy and use it to pick up necessary wins.

Northside knows its Week 8 opponent well after years of meeting South Creek during the non-conference stretch. The same goes for Southside, which travels to 1-A Coastal Plains foe Jones Senior.

Washington, on the other hand, has rarely played Ayden-Grifton in the past. The two schools reside in neighboring counties, but rarely found the other on the schedule until the Pam Pack joined the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference.

The final stretch of the season is fast approaching. Washington and Northside both need wins this week to keep playoff hopes alive. Southside is also in rough shape after losing its last three, but still feels good about fighting for a top-three spot in its league.



Location: Washington

Time: 7 p.m.

It’ll be homecoming at Washington and the Pam Pack hopes it can turn last week’s win into a late-season surge that results in a playoff berth.

In the way will be an unfamiliar Ayden-Grifton team. The history between Washington and the Chargers is scarce, especially since the turn of the century. That’s not to say that Pam Pack head coach Jon Blank isn’t familiar with the tradition built in Littlefield by Chargers coach Paul Cornwell.

Part of that tradition has been the way Ayden-Grifton is able to run the ball year in and year out. However, the Chargers shied away from that a bit at the beginning of the season. Instead, they rolled out more of a spread offense in hopes of using the arm of 6-foot junior quarterback Blake McLawhorn.

It didn’t prove all that fruitful. The Chargers only managed 168 yards of total offense at Southside in their season opener. Moreover, they turned the ball over four times in a shutout loss to the Seahawks.

Ayden-Grifton only lost one game since then. It is thanks, in part, to a scheme change that better fits its personnel. The Chargers are running more wing-T. The run-heavy approach has been smooth as halfback Rashadeen Byrd and fullback Ray Darden flourished.

Defensively, the Chargers allowed just three touchdowns during the three-game win streak they put on the line Friday. That includes a shutout of South Lenoir last week.

Washington managed to stymie much of North Lenoir’s offense, other than the production from Terrance Copper Jr. It struggled to stop the run throughout most of the season, though, and this game will be another test on that front.

The other key will be for Washington’s offense to continue operating at the level it did last week. Having Hykeem Ruffin and Ka’ci Foreman run in tandem led to the best offensive showing in two years.




Location: Northside

Time: 7 p.m.

Northside is going to be ready to go come kick off Friday. The Panthers, after a series of close losses, had last week off. They practiced through their bye in an attempt to make the stride that has been the difference in those shortcomings.

Combine that with the fact that it’s homecoming, and both players and fans will be buzzing.

South Creek and Northside know each other well. The Panthers used two defensive touchdowns to beat the Cougars in 2016. The two sides should be familiar after years of non-conference encounters.

But South Creek, like Northside, has some different faces this time around. Offensively, the Cougars lost Tyrek Bynum. He combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense and a dozen touchdowns.

Junior Jaylen Short has risen to the occasion. After a good showing as a sophomore, Short already has 721 yards rushing. He also has a scoring threat in sophomore Demorian Smith. He’s accounted for a team-best seven touchdowns.

South Creek’s defense has been a bit streaky after losing four of its six-best tacklers from a year ago. It conceded 41 points to North Pitt in Week 1 then 52 to Riverside in Week 3.

The Cougars seem to have gotten back on track on that side of the ball in recent weeks. In their rematch with Riverside — this one with 1-A Coastal Plains implications — they held the Knights well enough to scoot past with a 26-25 win.

This game could very well come down to Northside’s experienced defense. It has had some trouble with athletes like Short, but if a rested front can keep him from getting into the secondary, then the Panthers should be on their way to their first league win.




Location: Jones Senior

Time: 7 p.m.

There’s no better time for Southside to bounce back than this week at Jones Senior. The Seahawks, riding a three-game losing streak against talented opponents, find themselves on the road for the second week in a row.

The good news is that the hosting Trojans are winless and scored just one touchdown in seven games this season. The turnover in talent in Trenton created a talent disparity between Jones Senior and Southside the size of the Grand Canyon.

Five of the Trojans’ top-six rushers from 2016 graduated. The 2016 team, by the way, edged out the Seahawks. Anthony Taylor — the quarterback who led them with 916 rushing yards, 855 passing yards and 21 touchdowns that season — isn’t with the program. Jones Senior is also left with young, inexperienced offensive and defensive lines.

Like every other team this season, Southside should be able to take what it wants. It should be a good chance for coach Jeff Carrow to continue working injured players back into the lineup.

The odds are certainly in Southside’s favor. However, after traveling to Pamlico County and Tarboro in the last two weeks, this will be the first home conference game for the Trojans. They’ll be playing with something to prove, too, after getting blown out by the league’s two best teams.