Eagles, Raiders open league play Friday
Southern Vance and Warren County each open 2-A Northern Carolina Conference play Friday as the Raiders renew their series with Bunn and Warren County hosts Roanoke Rapids.
Northern Vance and J.F. Webb each are on the road in 3-A Big Eight Conference play. The Vikings visit Chapel Hill while Webb travels to Pittsboro to face an explosive Northwood squad.
Southern Vance (2-4) at Bunn (3-3)
The Raiders and Wildcats are meeting for the first time since 2008, the last season head coach David Howle coached in Bunn before taking four years away to watch his son play at Penn State.
Howle had an 183-72 record when he resigned in 2008. He’s back now and Southern head coach Lewis Young is expecting the same old Wildcats.
“They’re always so big and physical,” said Young. “They love to run the ball and come right at you with a power running attack.”
Bunn’s losses came to Wilson Fike, Southern Nash and Corinth Holders, which have a combined record of 17-1. The Wildcats’ wins came over North Johnston, Louisburg and Northampton County.
Southern will be without starting running back Qualik Shearin for the league opener.
“That changes things a lot,” said Young. “With his speed, not having him on the field really changes some of the things we wanted to do.”
With Shearin out, Young said the Raiders are working on their short passing game.
The quarterback throwing those passes hasn’t been determined. Senior Ty-Traveon Roberts has started five of six games, but is receiving some competition from sophomore Jerry Throckmorton, who started and threw two touchdown passes in the Raiders’ 23-12 loss at Greensboro Smith last week.
Southern has lost three straight since defeating Northern Vance in Week 4.
Roanoke Rapids (2-4) at Warren County (4-2)
A week of lousy weather could put Warren County at a disadvantage Friday against Roanoke Rapids in the conference opener for both teams. The Yellow Jackets were idle last week following a 69-0 thrashing of Northwest Halifax in Week 6.
The Eagles could use all the preparation time they can get for Roanoke Rapids’ two-headed quarterback tandem of Logan Jackson and De’Juan Walker.
Walker leads the Yellow Jackets in rushing while Jackson is primarily a passer.
“It’s almost like playing against 12 players,” said Warren County head coach John Ward. “When you have a guy that can beat you with his arm and a guy that can beat you with his feet, you’ve got problems.”
Roanoke Rapids’ other win came against Weldon. The Yellow Jackets’ four losses came to teams that have a combined record of 21-3.
Warren County is off to its best start in several years, but Ward is taking a cautious approach following last week’s come-from-behind homecoming win over Louisburg.
“We haven’t won a conference game yet,” said Ward. “And Roanoke Rapids is another step up from what we’ve been playing.”
Ward said he’s also impressed with the Roanoke Rapids running back and sees an athletic team across the board.
“They have good size up front on defense,” said Ward. “They’ve got their athletes in the right places. They’re better than their record probably indicates. They’re much better.”
Northern Vance (0-6, 0-2 Big Eight) at Chapel Hill (2-4, 1-1 Big Eight)
Northern head coach Eric Watkins said the work ethic is still there for his Vikings despite an 0-6 start. He just wants his team to get “meaner and more aggressive.”
Northern is two games into a brutal 3-A Big Eight Conference schedule that started with blowout losses to Southern Durham (4-2, 2-0) and Orange (6-0, 2-0). Next week the Vikings host Cardinal Gibbons (5-1, 2-0) before welcoming Northwood (5-1, 1-1) the following week for homecoming.
“The kids are still the same,” said Watkins. “I just tell them each week they have to get better and they come in every week and work hard.”
The game against Chapel Hill represents an opportunity for Northern to be competitive, at least. The Tigers have a conference win over J.F. Webb and lost 59-20 last week to Southern Durham.
“They did some good things against Southern Durham,” Watkins said of Chapel Hill. “I think our kids are up for it. All we can do is keep grinding until we get that first win.”
J.F. Webb (2-4, 0-2 Big Eight) at Northwood (5-1, 1-1 Big Eight)
Webb’s secondary got a big test last week against Cardinal Gibbons quarterback Shawn Stankavage.
The Warriors’ defensive backfield will get another one this week facing Northwood signal caller Ti Pinnix, who is averaging more than 300 passing yards per game.
Pinnix threw for 349 yards last week as the Chargers trounced Cedar Ridge 79-28.
“He’s an awesome athlete,” said Webb head coach Tony Midgette. “He has plenty of time and he can take off and run it, but he doesn’t. He looks like he wants to throw it.”
Northwood’s offensive coordinator wants to throw it too. It’s former East Chapel Hill head coach Bill Renner, father of North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner.
Midgette said Webb will look to put pressure on Pinnix, something that proved difficult against Stankavage, who threw for 208 yards on the Warriors.
“We’ve learned that we have to put extra pressure on the quarterback,” said Midgette. “Stankavage is kind of a different story on his own. He’s one of those guys if you get pressure on and the defensive backs are not in position, he’s going to take advantage of that.”
The Chargers can run too. Montel Goods had 155 yards on 26 carries against Cedar Ridge.
Webb will look to its running back Tobiah Lewis to get short chunks of yards in hopes of keeping Northwood’s offense off the field as long as possible.
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