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Football, finally: Week 6 a return to the norm for local teams

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Rocky Mount High’s Matthew Cherry, right, avoids Hertford County’s tackle at Rocky Mount High.

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By SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Thursday, September 20, 2018

After a week of unpredictable weather and rescheduling — and rescheduling of the rescheduling — the Twin Counties finally returns to a normal Friday night of high school football. Week 6 has a couple of intriguing cross-county matchups, plus plenty of other contests to get excited about. Six games in all dot Nash and Edgecombe Counties, while Faith Christian and Southern Nash, for various reasons, take the night off.

Rocky Mount High (3-0) at Nash Central (2-2)

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Neither team played due to Hurricane Florence.

Numbers game

Rocky Mount High: Locally and statewide, a lot has happened over the last 22 days, none of which have included a Rocky Mount High School football game. The cancelling of its matchup with Havelock last week was par for the circumstances, but the Gryphons had a scheduled bye the week before that, too, so the last time they took the field was on Aug. 30 against Hertford County.

Nash Central: Perhaps it’s convenience. Perhaps Nash Central just really misses the Big East. (It’s probably a little bit of both.) The Bulldogs, in their second season as a 2-A program, will face Big East program No. 3 today, having dropped games so far to former conference mates Northern Nash and Southern Nash.

Outlook: If nothing else, the Gryphons, who were rolling in August with a balanced offense and a stingy defense, will be well-rested for tonight’s rivalry matchup. On the other sideline, it’s been an up-and-down season for the host Bulldogs, who have potential to emerge as a 2-A contender if they figure out some issues on offense.

Tarboro (4-0) at South Creek (3-1)

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Neither team played due to Hurricane Florence.

Numbers game

Tarboro: The elite defense — and offense — continues for the Vikings. Defensive coordinator Andrew Harding’s unit has posted two shutouts in its four wins, and allowed only a touchdown in the other two. Tarboro’s average of three points allowed per game is making its average last year — about six per game — look like fool’s work.

South Creek: The Cougars have been playing some solid football to start the 2018 season, their lone blemish a 36-14 defeat to Riverside earlier this month. The man Tarboro will have to stop is Jaylen Short, who enters Friday with a team-high 537 yards on 67 carries.

Outlook: Tonight’s conference matchup on the road starts a stretch where six of seven games for the Vikings are against Coastal Plains teams. The only non-conference game is nestled on Oct. 1 against county rival SouthWest Edgecombe — a makeup from Florence — which might serve as their hardest roadblock ahead of playoff time. But if you’re a non-partial observer for tonight looking for a close one, this matchup last year produced a 49-2 win for Tarboro.

North Edgecombe (0-3) at Gaston KIPP (0-4)

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Neither team played due to Hurricane Florence.

Numbers game

North Edgecombe: It’s a simple problem that’s held the Warriors back this year, but the solution is much easier to discuss than execute. So, let’s indulge: They need to score more. North Edgecombe’s lone touchdown in its opener against Nash Central remains its only six points of the season. They’ve been shutout in the previous two, the last a 62-0 shutout loss to Tarboro, which, to be fair, has asserted its fair share of shutouts.

KIPP Pride: The Pride have dropped back to pass a decent number of times — they’re 20-of-58 passing — but have only one touchdown through the air compared to six interceptions.

Outlook: A win to start their conference schedule in the Tar-Roanoke could certainly turn the Warriors’ season around, and a jumpstart to first-year head coach Jason Miller’s offense could be the way to do so.

Rocky Mount Prep (2-1) at Northampton County (3-1)

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Neither team played due to Hurricane Florence.

Numbers game

Rocky Mount Prep: The Jaguars can be grouped into the same category as Rocky Mount High. Neither has played since August, the last contest for Rocky Mount Prep being a 61-8 loss to Harrells Christian Academy on Aug. 31, 21 days ago.

Northampton County: Balance in the rushing attack has been the calling card for NCHS, which has five players with at least 93 yards gained, led by Zion Kendall’s 279 yards on the ground.

Outlook: Friday’s away matchup is just the start of a hectic calendar week for Rocky Mount Prep, which has a quick turnaround in the form of an away game on Sept. 24, a Monday, against Louisburg. They’ll play for the third time in seven days next Friday, at home against Northwest Halifax.

Rocky Mount Academy (2-1, 1-1) at Raleigh St. David’s (3-0, 2-0)

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

Last week: The Eagles snuck in their rivalry game on Sept. 12 against Faith Christian, a 60-30 loss. St. David’s did the same, beating Cary Christian convincingly, 85-14.

Numbers game

Rocky Mount Academy: When Rocky Mount Academy dropped its game to Faith Christian two Wednesdays ago, it ended a streak of 677 days without a loss.

Raleigh St. David’s: With some talented players in an eight-man format that favors offense, the Warriors are averaging 67 points per game through three contests.

Outlook: Conference play continues on Friday for the Eagles, who will have their hands full in Raleigh after losing to the Patriots for the first time in three tries. And, if the transitive property means anything to Rocky Mount Academy, St. David’s beat Faith Christian on Sept. 7, 65-14.

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