Playoff football pairings released

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Tarboro's Clifton Joyner Jr., right, attempts to avoid SouthWest Edgecombe's Jelan Smith during a run Friday at SouthWest Edgecombe High School.


Sports Writers

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The NCHSAA released its playoffs pairings Saturday afternoon. The first round will be played Friday. Here is a look back and ahead at the Edgecombe County teams that made the postseason.

No. 6 Plymouth (6-5) vs. No. 11 North Edgecombe (4-6)

How they got here: The Warriors haven’t played since Oct. 27, when they beat Rocky Mount Prep by a convincing 42-14 score. North Edgecombe is riding a modest two-game win streak, which helped punch its ticket after losing five of the first six games of the season.

The opponent: Last season’s state title runner-up, Plymouth, finished second in the Albemarle Conference with a 4-1 mark. The Vikings opened the season with three consecutive losses, but got back on track in conference play. Plymouth finished the season with three wins by a combined score of 74-24.

The bracket: The winner will face third-seeded South Robeson (3-8) in the second round. South Robeson lost its final three games of the season. The only undefeated team in the bracket is 11-0 North Duplin.

Key players: North Edgecombe has a stout front on both sides of the ball and use a number of backs to move the ball. Plymouth senior quarterback Aryn Gibson has thrown for 866 yards and nine touchdowns with one interception. The Vikings’ run game is led by Aaron Wilkins’ 634 yards.


No. 1 Tarboro (11-0), BYE

How they got here: The Vikings haven’t allowed a point in the last three games. Well, at least the defense hasn’t. A safety returned to the wrong end zone aside, Tarboro football has played flawless football as of late, outscoring opponents over the past three games by a combined score of 171-2. On their way to a perfect regular season and a No. 1 seed in the 1-AA East bracket, the Vikings have eclipsed the 60-point mark five times.

The opponent: Tarboro will have to wait a week to find out its next opponent. The Vikings get a bye to start the playoffs, then square off with the winner of No. 8 Riverside Martin (6-5) and No. 12 Rosewood.

The bracket: The only other undefeated team in 1-AA is Mount Airy (11-0), which is lurking on the other side in the West Bracket.

Key players: The Vikings like to run the ball, and they do it really well. Jaquez Edge leads the team with 612 yards on the ground and 12 touchdowns, while three others (Clifton Joyner, Jr., Malik Dickens, Deontae Williams) are in the 500s.


No. 6 SouthWest Edgecombe (9-2) vs. No. 11 Hertford County (6-5)

How they got here: SouthWest Edgecombe turned in a dominant regular season, a turnaround after a losing season last year. SWE had a clear path to an Eastern Plains outright title, but lost on Friday to Wilson Beddingfield. The Cougars have one of their stronger rushing attacks in recent memory. Hertford County won three straight games to get in, and finished third in the Northeastern Conference.

The opponent: Hertford County withstood a 1-5 stretch in the middle of the season, before closing with three straight wins. The Bears posted wins over area teams Wilson Hunt and Rocky Mount High. The Bears are balanced on offense with quarterback Lance Hunter throwing for 1,830 yard, and running back Kyeem Perry rushing for 1,562.

The bracket: Next up will be the winner of No. 3 Southwest Onslow and No. 14 Goldsboro. SWE avoids facing top-seeded Northeastern (11-0) until the later rounds.

Key players: Hertford County’s two-headed monster of Hunter and Perry will be tough to slow down. SWE has a talented run game with six players over 100 yards, led by 1,265-yard rusher Alex Foster. Also watch for defensive back Dashon Bandy, who has made huge plays for the Cougars this season.