Week 6 Preview: Northern, Webb open conference play Friday
Northern Vance and J.F. Webb each begin 3-A Big Eight Conference football play Friday at home.
The Vikings host league newcomer Southern Durham while Webb takes on Chapel Hill.
Southern Vance is also at home against Louisburg and Warren County is on the road at Louisburg’s 1-A Tar-Roanoke foe Weldon.
Southern, Webb and Warren County each own 2-2 records while Northern is searching for its first win.
Southern Durham (2-2) at Northern Vance (0-4)
Opening conference play with Southern Durham, one of the league favorites, should be a daunting task for Northern.
The Spartans are loaded with athletes led by junior quarterback Kendall Hinton, who has an offer from Duke, and senior receiver Maurice Trowell, an N.C. State recruit.
“I know they’re feeling like this is one of the weakest teams in the conference,” Northern head coach Eric Watkins’ said of Southern Durham’s perception of Northern. “But in any given football game, a team can lose.”
Southern Durham’s two losses came to 4-A opponents Durham Hillside and unbeaten Scotland County.
Hinton was 17-of-28 passing for 282 yards in a 39-27 win over Northern Durham last week and Trowell had eight grabs for 157 yards.
Watkins has been preaching to his team that this can be a “turnaround” game.
“I told the kids we can put together a plan to win this game,” said Watkins.
Watkins got a good look at the Spartans when they visited Southern Vance’s preseason jamboree. He said everything is controlled with their big group of offensive linemen.
Northern didn’t play last week and lost 33-8 to Southern Vance in Week 4.
Tyrrick Bullock, a defensive back and running back, is expected to return to the lineup from injury.
Watkins added that the Vikings have to make sure they don’t dig themselves a hole.
“One thing about being the underdog is you have nothing to lose,” said Watkins. “You’re going out as a team and fighting together as a team.”
Louisburg (2-2) at Southern Vance (2-2)
There didn’t seem to be much separating Southern and Louisburg in 2012 and this season doesn’t appear much different.
Southern hung on for a 14-6 win over the Warriors in the 2012 season opener before both teams went on to finish 5-5 in the regular season and suffer first-round state playoff losses.
Louisburg dropped to 1-A this season and Southern dropped to 2-A. Both teams enter Friday’s game with 2-2 records.
“It should be a pretty good matchup,” said Southern head coach Lewis Young. “They’re athletic. They have some good running backs. They’ll be able to keep us on our toes.”
Louisburg’s two wins came in blowouts over North Johnston and Rocky Mount Prep. The Warriors lost 50-28 to Franklinton and 35-13 to Bunn.
The Raiders saw some wildcat looks from Northern Nash in last week’s 28-13 road loss. This week, they’ve been preparing for the Warriors’ wing attack.
“Everybody has a responsibility,” said Young. “You have to make sure you’re in the right spot at the right time. As long as everybody is in the right spot and we handle our responsibilities, we should be OK.”
Southern welcomes back starters on each side of the ball. Receiver DeAndre Jefferson and linebacker Marquis Crudup are returning from injuries.
Chapel Hill (1-4) at J.F. Webb (2-2)
Friday’s contest will be Chapel Hill’s first game against a 3-A opponent.
Chapel Hill’s win came over 4-A East Chapel Hill last week and the Tigers lost to 4-A Durham Riverside in Week 1.
Chapel Hill also has a pair of 2-A losses to South Granville and Carrboro.
Webb’s only contest against a 3-A opponent came in a 30-0 loss to Rocky Mount in Week 2.
The common opponent is South Granville. Chapel Hill lost 37-13 to the Vikings a week before they knocked off Webb 42-0.
Chapel Hill won last season’s matchup 26-0, but eight defensive starters and a starting quarterback are gone from the Tiger team that was eliminated in the second round of the state playoffs.
Warren County (2-2) at Weldon (1-3)
This matchup turned into a shootout last season with the Eagles claiming a 50-36 win.
Warren County head coach John Ward hopes his team’s improved defense will prevent a repeat of that.
“We needed all the points we got to beat them,” said Ward. “I know that. I’m hoping it’s not going to be that way this time because our defense is a little better than last year.”
Weldon’s win came in a romp over Columbia in Week 1. Since then, the Chargers have losses to Roanoke Rapids, Northampton County and North Edgecombe.
“They’re very athletic,” said Ward. “Their defense is probably ahead of their offense at this point because they’re so athletic and they run so well. They’re very intense and aggressive up front.”
Warren County’s improved defense is holding opponents to an average of 17.2 points and the Eagles shut out Northwest Halifax 46-0 last week.
Like last week, Ward hasn’t seen much film on the opponent, but noted that Weldon played unbeaten Northampton tough in a 20-0 loss.
“This team is a lot more athletic,” said Ward, “and a lot sturdier up front.”