Playoff Football Preview: Northside, Southside set for first-round showdown

Published 8:14 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Location: Southside

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Thursday’s first-round 1-A NCHSAA playoff battle between Southside and Northside is arguably one of the most highly anticipated football games in recent memory. The Panthers and Seahawks last met in the postseason in the 2004 eastern-regional championship game — a game Southside won in shutout fashion to advance to the state championship.

Thirteen years later, the two will do battle once again simply to see which Beaufort County squad gets to advance beyond the opening round of playoff games.

Coaches Keith Boyd and Jeff Carrow were both on the sidelines for that 2004 game, but that was over a decade ago. Both coaches have stressed to their players the importance of remembering the past without living in it. That shouldn’t be too tough for the athletes, who were 5 years old or younger the last time the two rivals met in the playoffs.

Expect the game to look a lot like the one that took place in Chocowinity three weeks ago. There’s not much a football team can change at this point of the season. Each may dig to the depths of its playbook to try to bust open big plays through the air.

In the end, though, the Panthers are going to run their option and the Seahawks will work with their wing-T. Each defense is a bit more familiar after having more game tape and having experienced the other’s offense first hand.

Southside struggled to find running gaps against the Panthers last time out. Northside’s defense line has come together impressively throughout the season. Tyreck Brown has been a playmaker on the edge while linebackers Cameron Cahoon and Parker Boyd clogged up the middle.

Southside did find moderate success in the air as junior quarterback Will Warren completed six passes for 99 yards. A few drops and misses took the wind out of the Seahawks’ sails at key junctures, though.

Discipline is going to be important in this game. Southside was penalized nine times for 80 yards three weeks ago. Northside also had eight flags for 50 yards. The emotions going into a rivalry playoff game will be tricky to control, so whichever team remains level headed will have an advantage on that front.

Something else to consider is the rest that Southside has had. The Seahawks rode a two-game losing streak into the final week of the season, which was their bye. They got a chance to heal up, as well as refocus on fundamentals.

Northside, on the other hand, was grounded in a physical game against Pamlico County. Key players like quarterback Matthew Marslender and fullback Raydarius Freeman were roughed up in the 42-6 loss.

The Panthers may have wins in their last two trips to Chocowinity, but it’s going to be hard to escape with a victory this time. Southside seems to find another gear once the postseason rolls around. Expect the Seahawks to avenge that loss from three weeks back.