Raiders, Warriors host final games

Oct. 31, 2013 @ 12:18 AM

Southern Vance and J.F. Webb are each at home Friday in the penultimate week of thehigh school football  season as the Raiders host Roanoke Rapids, the last-place team in the 2-A Northern Carolina Conference, and the Warriors welcome 3-A Big Eight Conference co-leader Southern Durham.

Northern Vance and Warren County are each on the road. The Vikings visit Cedar Ridge in 3-A Big Eight Conference action while Warren County travels to South Granville, one of the three teams tied with Southern for the Northern Carolina lead.

Roanoke Rapids (2-7, 0-3) at Southern Vance (4-5, 2-1)

Southern’s 41-12 loss at Bunn to start the Northern Carolina season is in the rearview mirror.

The Raiders have two consecutive wins, over South Granville and Warren County, putting them in a four-way tie for first place with Bunn, South Granville and Franklinton.

Southern closes the season next week at Franklinton following Friday’s tussle with Roanoke Rapids.

“We talk a little bit about it,” Southern Vance head coach Lewis Young said of winning a league title. “But not too much. We try to focus on the next game ahead. One game at a time.”

Roanoke Rapids has opened conference play with three losses, but has seen improvement in its final scorelines, at least. The Yellow Jackets lost to Bunn by two touchdowns before last week’s 19-15 loss to Franklinton.

“They’re a big, physical team,” said Young. They run some wildcat and throw it around pretty good. They’ve been coming around the last few games.”

Roanoke Rapids quarterback De’Juan Walker gashed Warren County’s defense for 230 rushing yards a few weeks ago.

Young said what the Yellow Jackets do on offense remind him of Northern Nash. The Raiders lost to the Knights 28-13 on Sept. 20.

“He’s really athletic,” Young said of Walker. “You have to have somebody on him every play. He can do damage.”

A win would do some damage in the standings for Southern.

Bunn visits Franklinton in Friday’s other league matchup.

Warren County (5-4, 1-2) at South Granville (7-2, 2-1)

Warren County isn’t out of the race for its first state playoff berth since 2007, but the Eagles have an uphill climb to post their first six-win season since 2005.

Warren County closes the season at Bunn after Friday’s matchup in Creedmoor.

The Eagles can still make the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2-A playoffs even if they drop their final two contests.

“It’s not the way we want go in,” said Warren County head coach John Ward. “We’re obviously going to try to win them both, create some momentum for the playoffs.”

South Granville gained some momentum with last week’s win over Bunn after falling to Southern Vance the week prior.

Ward said South Granville quarterback Matt McCutcheon was effective on the ground against the Wildcats, utilizing the Vikings’ sturdy offensive front.

“They’re big and they’re good,” Ward said of the line, “ferociously good.”

Warren County has dropped two straight since starting league play with a win.

Securing the football, after three turnovers against Southern last week, has been a focal point for the Eagles in practice this week.

Northern Vance (0-9, 0-5) at Cedar Ridge (1-8. 1-4)

Turnovers were also an issue for Northern last week in its 52-17 loss to Northwood — and have been all season for the winless Vikings.

With the conference heavyweights now behind it, head coach Eric Watkins is hopeful Northern can conclude its season with consecutive wins to create momentum for next season.

“The kids are focused,” said Watkins. “They’re excited about playing Cedar Ridge. They picked it up this week in practice.”

One reason for such optimism: Cedar Ridge, like Northern, has struggled for the past two seasons. The Red Wolves and Vikings each won only once a season ago.

Cedar Ridge was competitive early in the season, including a 24-19 loss to Southern Vance, before blowout losses to the Big Eight leaders. The Red Wolves’ lone win of the season came in a 24-17 defeat of Webb.

“They’ve had their ups and downs,” Watkins said of Cedar Ridge. “They main thing is we have to go in and be focused.”

Watkins has said all season that playing teams like Orange and Southern Durham have only made Northern better.

Now the Vikings need the results to show on the field.

Southern Durham (7-2, 5-0) at J.F. Webb (2-7, 0-5)

Webb head coach Tony Midgette wants his team to stay competitive, hang around as long as possible, and hopefully have a chance to pounce at the end Friday against Southern Durham.

“You never know,” said Midgette. “We may get a bounce here and there, keep it close until the fourth quarter and come out with a win.”

Webb has played the last game and a half without senior quarterback Beau Smith. Midgette is expecting him back Friday although junior lineman Gearl Majors is still out along with his classmate Johnathan Harris, a defensive end, and potentially senior safety Antonio Bowden.

Bowden would especially be missed as the Warriors try to limit the dynamic duo of quarterback Kendall Hinton and receiver Maurice Trowell, an N.C. State recruit.

“When you see the catches he makes,” Midgette said of Trowell, “he makes everything look easy.”

Webb did find success against Northwood, a team that also throws it around with regularity, by sending pressure on the quarterback. That will be the gameplan again as the Warriors look to end a five-game slide. 

“It’s kind of hard to put a finger on it exactly,” Midgette said of his team’s attitude. “But our guys are still believing in what we’re trying to accomplish here.”

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