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Teams ready for Round 2 of NCHSAA state football playoffs

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Nash Central quarterback Travis Griffin, center, scrambles through the Wilson Beddingfield defense Friday at Nash Central High School.

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By Sports Staff

Thursday, November 16, 2017

2-A

SouthWest Edgecombe (10-2) at Jacksonville Southwest Onslow (9-3)

The matchup: The second round 2-A matchup features a pair of old-school football teams that look to run first, and run some more. No. 6 SouthWest Edgecombe has been in position to win in every game but one this season, while No. 3 Southwest Onslow enters on an eight-game win streak. The Stallions have given up one touchdown or fewer in 10 of their 12 games.

The winner will face either second-seeded East Bladen or No. 10 Greene Central.

Scouting report: Southwest Onslow is a similar team to the Cougars in that it loves to run the football. The Stallions move the ball best with a rushing attack that features three players with more than 1,000 rushing yards. Jakoby Johnson leads the way with 1,472 yards, followed by Caleb Mahone (1,097) and Josh Soliz (1,089). The trio has combined for 45 rushing touchdowns.

The Stallions have proven they can play from behind despite their reliance on the run game. In last week’s playoff opener against Goldsboro, Southwest Onslow trailed 6-0 at halftime, before scoring 35 unanswered points to win 35-6. Johnson had the biggest game of the three-headed rushing attack, turning in two touchdowns with 169 yards.

2016 playoffs: SouthWest Edgecombe earned the No. 4 seed in the 2-AA playoffs last season after going 5-6 in the regular season. It was the Cougars’ first losing season since 2013. The Cougars went on to lose in the first round, a mild upset by fifth-seeded South Granville.

Southwest Onslow, meanwhile, advanced to the second round as a fifth seed last season, where it was knocked out by top-seeded Northeastern. The Stallions have won four state championships -- three coming in 2-A -- with the most recent title coming in 1-AA in 2012.

Telegram prediction: SouthWest Edgecombe 27, Southwest Onslow 24

3-A

Eastern Alamance (10-2) at Southern Nash (11-1)

The matchup: This second round 3-A matchup pits two double-digit win teams against each other, with Southern Nash, the bracket’s No. 3 seed, hosting No. 6 Eastern Alamance. The Firebirds waltzed to a 76-12 victory last week, scoring early and often against a Fayetteville-Westover that was overwhelmed by a potent and diverse run game. The Eagles, on the other hand, had a much closer encounter -- a 20-13 win over Northeast Guilford.

Scouting Report: While both teams have enjoyed successful seasons from the ground game, expect a balanced attack from only the Eagles offense: Southern Nash is a one-dimensional offense with just 56 pass attempts on the season compared to 476 rushes.

But with runners like Zonovan Knight (1,482 yards, 14.3 yards per rush) and Kendrick Bell (1,234 yards), a solid ground game is sufficient by itself. For Eastern Alamance, Hayden Mann leads the offense with 1,877 yards passing and 25 touchdowns through the air.

2016 playoffs: The Firebirds entered last year’s 3-A bracket as the east’s No. 1 seed, beating Northern Nash in the first round then bowing out to Rocky Mount by a 27-21 final. At the very least, Southern Nash won’t have to worry about the Gryphons -- their season ended last week with a first round loss.

Eastern Alamance was a No. 4 seed in 2016, beating Nash Central before a loss in the second round.

Telegram prediction: Southern Nash 42, Eastern Alamance 36

1-AA

No. 8 Williamston Riverside (7-5) at

No. 1 Tarboro (11-0)

The matchup: Conference foes meet for a second time when Williamston Riverside visits Tarboro. The Vikings shut out the Knights, 62-0, on Oct. 20 which was one of five such by the team’s defense. Williamston Riverside opened the playoffs last week with a 70-51 victory at Princeton. Tarboro enjoyed a first-round bye and has now been off two of the past three Fridays. The road to the NCHSAA 1-AA state championship will have to come through Tarboro as the Vikings will enjoy a homefield advantage throughout the postseason.

Scouting report: If Williamston Riverside couldn’t score on the Vikings a few weeks ago, there is little chance they will make tonight’s game much closer. Tarboro’s defense has had time to rest, and the Vikings are motivated to take nothing for granted as they begin a push to return to a state title game for the first time since 2012.

2016 playoffs: Williamston Riverside lost to Plymouth in the first round of the 1-A playoffs. Tarboro lost to Wallace Rose-Hill in the fourth round of the 1-AA playoffs.

Telegram prediction: Tarboro 68, Williamston Riverside 0

2-AA

No. 5 Nash Central (10-2) 

at No. 4 Randleman (10-1)

The matchup: Nash Central hopes the momentum of success continues into Week 2 of the playoffs. The Bulldogs’ 41-7 victory last week at home against High Point Andrews was the program’s first playoffs victory since 2011. Randleman is coming off another smooth victory, 43-7, against Roanoke Rapids, in the first round. Randleman’s record could be considered a little deceiving, with victories coming against six teams that finished the season with losing records.

Scouting report: Coach Chris Lee’s squad will stick to the formula of trying to get ahead in the game with its wealth of offensive options. Defense might have to be the focus as stopping Randleman sophomore running back Jaquan Snipes has 1,167 yards rushing this season. Randleman quarterback Tanner McGee is a run-pass threat. He ran for a touchdown last week and completed 17 of 23 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns.

2016 playoffs: Nash Central lost in the first round of the 3-A state playoffs. Randleman lost, 41-6, to Northside Jacksonville in the first round of the 2-AA playoffs.

Telegram prediction: Nash Central 42, Randleman 36

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