Friday Football Preview: Beaufort County coming down the stretch
Published 2:17 pm Thursday, October 12, 2017
With the 2017 football season approaching its dramatic end, Northside and Southside are tasked with taking on two of the best the 1-A Coastal Plains Conference. The Panthers host an unstoppable Tarboro club. Southside’s homecoming game against Riverside will be another chapter in a highly competitive rivalry between the two.
Washington, meanwhile, looks to bounce back after letting its homecoming game against Ayden-Grifton slip away. The Pam Pack has to hit the road this week, but will be traveling to a South Lenoir team that has mustered up just one win.
Outcomes from this ninth Friday of the campaign will decide what the home stretch of the regular season will look like.
WASHINGTON (2-6, 1-2 2-A EASTERN CAROLINA) AT SOUTH LENOIR (1-7, 0-3 2-A EASTERN CAROLINA)
Location: South Lenoir
Time: 7 p.m.
Two teams both hungry for a win meet Friday night in conference action. Washington, with a dominant win over North Lenoir and close losses to Greene Central and Ayden-Grifton lately, is keen on keeping its slim playoff hopes alive at South Lenoir.
The Blue Devils have been streaky in their losses. They were within two touchdowns at halftime against undefeated Kinston. Then, the next week, they were routed by Ayden-Grifton, 63-0.
South Lenoir was handed another decisive loss, 46-14, against West Craven last week. It struggled moving the ball on the ground in each of its last two outings. The Chargers held the Blue Devils to just 63 yards rushing.
Junior Jayden Carr got 72 yards and two touchdowns against West Craven, but didn’t get much complementary help from anyone other than Tyrese Suggs. Quarterback Brett Huffman finished the game with negative rushing yardage and is in the red through eight games this year.
This game presents an opportunity for the Pam Pack to continue making strides in its run defense. Regardless of being unable to make a final stop against Ayden-Grifton, that unit should feel confident up against a South Lenoir squad averaging just south of 14 points per game.
The Blue Devil defense has struggled all year long as it’s allowed over 33 points per game. There are still standouts to look for on that side of the ball. Suggs and Carr both have at least 30 tackles apiece.
Defensive back Jonathan Haddock will be the player to look out for on that side of the ball. The freshman stud leads South Lenoir with 34 tackles and has one of the team’s two interceptions.
Washington’s offense line has been arguably its best and one of the more consistent units this season. It will look to continue creating the space that has allowed Hykeem Ruffin to tear through opposing defenses.
PREDICTION: WASHINGTON 35, SOUTH LENOIR 7
RIVERSIDE (4-3, 1-1 1-A COASTAL PLAINS) AT SOUTHSIDE (5-3, 1-2 1-A COASTAL PLAINS)
Time: 7 p.m.
Southside and Riverside have clashed in some of the most exciting football games in the past few years. A year ago, it was the Knights that stood tall in overtime. The Seahawks scooted by in a shootout two years ago.
The two seem poised for another classic encounter this season. Each with one conference win, Southside and Riverside will be fighting for a chance to finish second behind Tarboro.
Just like last year, Southside will have its eyes on Jadakis Bonds. The East Carolina receiver commit has 25 catches for 477 yards and six touchdowns. Ah’shaan Belcher has benefitted from defenses keying in on Bonds as he has 16 grabs for 233 yards and another four touchdowns.
Having Knight quarterback Benjamin Beach take to the air could be as beneficial to Southside’s secondary as it could be problematic. Senior defensive backs Grant Jensen, Demetrius Ebron and Cody Modlin have combined for five of Southside’s six interceptions this year. The Seahawks picked off Beach twice in last season’s meeting.
Turnovers — namely a muffed punt by Bonds — helped Northside have a shot to beat the Knights a few weeks back. The Seahawks will also need to make plays on defense and special teams.
Of course, Southside’s offensive playmakers will be important. It starts with its offensive line, which has allowed the Seahawks to plug and play skill players as injuries mounted around the halfway point of the season. It will line up against a Riverside defensive front that has lost plenty of the physicality it boasted in 2016.
Trajan Rhome has been the ironman at running back. He’s played in all eight games and leads Southside with 486 yards rushing and six touchdowns. Four others have four touchdowns apiece, too.
A healthy lineup of skill players also featuring the powerful Brandon Sullivan and the shiftier Jamison Bennett, among others, should be advantageous to Southside as it celebrates homecoming.
PREDICTION: SOUTHSIDE 35, RIVERSIDE 28
TARBORO (8-0, 3-0 1-A COASTAL PLAINS) AT NORTHSIDE (3-4, 1-1 1-A COASTAL PLAINS)
Time: 7 p.m.
As much as Northside would like to win back-to-back games for the first time this season, the odds are stacked heavily against it as the unstoppable force known as the Tarboro Vikings roll into Pinetown.
Relative to the way they’ve been playing this season, the Vikings’ armor showed some weaknesses against Pamlico County last week. The Hurricanes became only the second team in 2017 to score twice against the state-championship favorite.
The Viking defense has shutout four of its eight opponents thus far. One of those came against the Washington team that upended the Panthers during non-conference play.
Tarboro’s machine-like offense has produced four running backs with over 400 yards rushing. Deontae Williams leads the way with 545 yards and nine scores. The four-man contingent has combined for 1,928 yards and 29 touchdowns in eight games. The rest of the team has added nearly 1,200 more yards and 20 more trips to the end zone.
The Panthers will be outmatched in the speed department. Their linebackers and defensive secondary will need to converge on the ball carrier to minimize yards-per-play.
Offensively, Northside will need to be firing on all cylinders on offense to earn some positive takeaways. Matthew Marslender will need to be cool, calm and collected in facing a big, physical Tarboro defense. Raydarius Freeman and Cameron Cahoon’s power may be neutralized, but the Panthers also have the option to go with shiftier running backs like Johnathan Clark and Tyree Blount.
Tarboro is a hurdle Northside has to clear, but it can take solace in still being in control of its destiny. The Panthers can have a shot at second place with Southside, Jones Senior and Pamlico County still left ahead.
PREDICTION: TARBORO 49, NORTHSIDE 6