Eagles, Vikings set to renew gridiron rivalry
The first meeting between Northern Vance and Warren County since 2010 highlights Friday’s area football schedule.
The Vikings lost their season opener at Ravenscroft and travel to Warrenton to face an Eagle team that hasn’t played a game yet.
Southern Vance also lost its first contest. The Raiders are on the road this week at Cedar Ridge while J.F. Webb will try to improve to 2-0 on the road at Rocky Mount.
Each game is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m.
Northern Vance (0-1) at Warren County
Northern claimed a dramatic 20-16 win in the last meeting with Warren County, which also came in Warrenton. But Northern has managed only five total wins since then.
The Eagles and Vikings have seen plenty of each other at Southern’s Pigskin Jamboree in the last few years. There, Warren County head coach John Ward saw what he views as an athletic Northern team.
“They had some athletes,” said Ward. “Their quarterback is very athletic. The defense is athletic. We have our work cut out for us.”
Ward said not playing in Week 1 could be a bigger disadvantage than most realize.
“I don’t think there’s any greater potential improvement a team can make than from the first week to the second week,” said Ward, noting the need for a team to eliminate nervousness as well as a coach having opportunities to make adjustments.
One adjustment Northern head coach Eric Watkins hopes his team will make is tackling better. The Vikings also turned the ball over four times in last week’s 34-14 loss at Ravenscroft.
“The kids came in to practice this week excited and ready to go,” said Watkins. “It’s a rivalry game — a lot of that is just played off heart.”
It will be Watkins’ first extensive look at Warren County’s wing offense.
“It’s all about who comes off the ball first,” said Watkins. “We have to get a push on the offensive and defensive line. Our linebackers need to clean everything up and we can’t let them get outside.”
Northern speedster Tyrrick Bullock, a running back and defensive back, is sidelined with a concussion.
Ward said he his team is also “banged up.”
Both coaches are expecting a good turnout at the Eagles’ Nest in Ward’s first Northern-Warren County matchup.
“Everybody tells me it’s always been a big rivalry,” said Ward. “That’s what I hear.”
“Everybody has been talking all week about the Warren County game,” added Watkins. “I think we’ll take a nice crowd over there this week.”
Southern Vance (0-1) at Cedar Ridge (0-1)
Last year, Southern Vance was in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A classification and Cedar Ridge was 2-A. This season, the roles are reversed.
Cedar Ridge now competes in the 3-A Big Eight Conference with Northern and Webb.
The Red Wolves won only once last year and lost at Southern, but the team has shifted from a pro-I offense to a spread.
Cedar Ridge lost 36-19 last week against Carrboro, the reigning 2-AA runner-up. The Red Wolves trailed by only a point at halftime.
Southern lost its season opener at home 43-0 against a strong Northeastern team.
Qualik Shearin played well for the Raiders, rushing for more than 80 yards. But the rest of Southern’s offense wasn’t productive against a stifling Northeastern defense.
Southern head coach Lewis Young told his team after the game to “keep their heads up because they played against a really good team.”
Webb (1-0) at Rocky Mount (1-0)
Webb erased a 14-0 halftime deficit against Granville Central last week on its way to a 29-14 season-opening win.
Warrior running back Tobiah Lewis scored three times and ran for 247 yards in the win.
“We know that’s not going to be an every night thing,” said Webb head coach Tony Midgette. “Of course if he does, we’re going to be happy.”
Midgette expects Rocky Mount to key in on Lewis and says Webb we’ll have some other backs ready to open the offense. He’s also looking for a receiver to step up, along with first-year senior quarterback Beau Smith.
“Every week he’s gotten better,” Midgette said of Smith. “He’s athletic enough to do just about anything. He’s working hard and really pushing the other guys.”
Rocky Mount won 27-14 at South Granville last week.
The Gryphons won eight games a season ago, but lost a 1,000-yard rusher to graduation.
“They were of course very athletic,” Midgette said of the game against South Granville. “Defensively, they were very fast to the ball.”
Rocky Mount, using a pistol-style offense, has three good backs, Midgette said. And the Gryphons benefitted from some big plays last week, including a punt return for touchdown.
The key to victory, Midgette said, is not giving up those big plays.
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