Week 7 Preview: League play continues for Northern, Webb
The 3-A Big Eight Conference has a full slate of games Friday including Northern Vance’s match at Orange and J.F. Webb’s homecoming contest against Cardinal Gibbons.
Southern and Warren County continue non-conference play as the Raiders travel to Greensboro Smith and the Eagles host former conference rival Louisburg.
Southern and Warren County each begin 2-A Northern Carolina Conference action next week.
Northern Vance (0-5) at Orange (5-0)
It hasn’t gotten any easier for Northern.
A week after being pounded 62-6 by Southern Durham, the Vikings’ next challenge is an away match at unbeaten Orange, ranked eighth in the latest 3-A Associated Press state high school football poll.
Northern head coach Eric Watkins said he’d rather have games like these in the early part of the conference schedule.
“Our kids learned against Southern Durham we have to get stronger and faster to compete in this conference,” said Watkins. “We can improve and learn from these games.”
Orange’s closest game came in last week’s 41-21 win at Northwood. The Panthers have three blowout wins over 4-A schools and have outscored their opponents 196-43, posting two shutouts.
“We just have to stop the run,” said Watkins. “And our defensive line has to get a push.”
Orange running backs Patrick Pettiford and Tay Jones combined for 234 rushing yards last week and quarterback Garrett Cloer was 9-of-12 passing for 197 yards and two touchdowns.
“Our focus has been hitting and wrapping up on tackles,” said Watkins. “Every week we want to learn from something and improve it and that’s been the focus this week.”
Southern Vance (2-3) at Greensboro Smith (2-3)
Southern might have welcomed a date at Ben L. Smith last season when the 4-A Golden Eagles failed to win a game.
But Smith is off to a better start under new head coach Antonio Kirkpatrick with wins over Western Guilford and Burlington Cummings.
“They’re just very athletic,” said Southern head coach Lewis Young. “They have a really good quarterback and a defense that really flies around.”
Young said it will be a challenge to face a school two classifications above Southern.
Bringing a banged-up squad won’t help any. The Raiders could be down both guards including stalwart Jaquez Bullock, who is a gametime decision with a foot injury. A few other Southern players are recovering from injuries too, including starting linebacker Sheldon Smith, who has returned to practice after sitting out last week.
The Raiders were held to 77 yards on the ground in a 36-20 loss to Louisburg last week
How a potentially makeshift offensive line performs this week should be one of the deciding factors.
Cardinal Gibbons (4-1) at J.F. Webb (2-3)
Webb’s secondary should get its biggest test of the season to date as the Warriors welcome Cardinal Gibbons and quarterback Shawn Stankavage.
“He’s a great quarterback,” said Webb head coach Tony Midgette. “Especially for a high school kid, he’s very smart. We have to stay mistake free in the secondary. I think he’s the best quarterback in our conference.”
Gibbons never lost a game in the Carolina Conference and is off to a 1-0 start in Big Eight play following a 56-28 win over Cedar Ridge last week.
The Crusaders’ lone loss came to 4-A opponent Cary.
“Every year, they look the same,” said Midgette. “That’s a compliment to their coaching staff.”
Webb lost a double-overtime heartbreaker to Chapel Hill last week, but Midgette said the Warriors proved in that game they can compete in the Big Eight.
“It was a big boost for our confidence,” said Midgette, “especially with us having two early losses.”
Webb has tallied 30 points in each of its previous two outings following consecutive weeks of being shut out.
Louisburg (3-2) at Warren County (3-2)
Razzle dazzle will not be on display Friday when Louisburg and Warren County meet in Warrenton.
The former Northern Carolina Conference rivals play a similar game, using deliberate, ground-based approaches on offense as a form of defense.
Warren County head coach John Ward, who employs a single-wing approach, said Louisburg’s offense is a combination of double wing and Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson’s option.
“When they get in that double wing, they try to power the football against you,” said Ward.
The Warriors did that last week at Southern, finishing with 331 rushing yards.
Louisburg, now in the 1-A Tar-Roanoke Conference, won 44-16 in last year’s league meeting.
Ward says the Warriors are better this year.
“Our offensive philosophies are similar,” said Ward. “It remains to be seen whose players are going to execute that philosophy and whose will impose their will on the other team.”
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