Player Profile: Brandon Sullivan, Seahawks comfortable with pressure

Published 3:59 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2017

CHOCOWINITY — Southside coach Jeff Carrow hesitated to label Friday’s regular-season finale at South Creek a must-win for the Seahawks. He said it’s an important game, especially in terms of picking up some steam and playoff seeding heading into their bye week then the postseason.

The must-win games come soon, though. Southside, coming off of back-to-back appearances in the 1-A eastern-regional title game, hopes to put together another long playoff run.

Senior Brandon Sullivan has played in plenty of these high-stakes games. He and the Seahawks are 8-3 in the playoffs since his freshman year.

“I feel really comfortable. It’s just another game for me,” Sullivan said. “We’re just doing the same preparation: film and practice. We always know South Creek is going to come prepared.”

The Seahawks have seen top-notch competition this year. They began with a shutout win over Ayden-Grifton, which is now ranked second in the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference. Two of their four losses came against North Duplin and Tarboro teams that are a combined 19-0.

The coaching staff and experienced leaders consistently have Southside ready to compete. Sullivan is one of those leaders on the field.

“He’s solid. He’s a captain on the field, a coach on the field,” Carrow said of Sullivan. “He does exactly what we need him there for. We feel that, in the past two weeks he’s been back, the vocal leadership has stepped up. Of course, we’re going to plug up the middle with him.”

That said, Southside will have plenty of extra motivation to get the job done on Friday. Playoff seeding will be on the line. Sullivan and the rest of the Seahawk seniors specifically will also be playing with a chip after falling on their senior night.

“We need to come back, bounce back and be even more prepared than we have,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan, like he has all year long, will be key to keeping South Creek’s athletes from breaking through the middle of the defense. He has 32 tackles — including 2.5 for loss — in seven games this season. He missed action due to a concussion. He’s seen how opposing offenses operate when he’s on the sideline versus when he’s set up at middle linebacker.

“It’s a big difference. We have a ton of guys stepping up in my place,” he said. “I’m more of a big run stopper. Other guys have speed, so I stick in there and stop it up the middle.”

A key to turning the corner at this crucial point in the season will be Sullivan getting more involved in the offense again. He only had one carry this past week.

Carrow said the Seahawks “shot themselves in the foot” during short-yardage scenarios in the 16-12 loss to Northside this past week. Flags would set them back on plays designed for Sullivan to use his power to plow up the middle. Carrow also attributed it to different schemes that Southside rolled out in the game.

However, the game ended up being decided by the Panthers making both of their 2-point conversions and Southside failing on its two attempts. Sullivan didn’t get a shot on either try from right outside the goal line.

Leadership from the coaches, Sullivan and other upperclassmen is a strength of this team, though. He’s looked at the tape from Northside and put that game behind him. Expect him and the Seahawks to bounce back. Sullivan and the Southside seniors have never lost consecutive games more than once in a season. They’re not going to want to start now.