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Nash Central runs to Week 1 win over Southeast Halifax

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Nash Central’s Shemar Henderson, left, pushes away Southeast Halifax Friday at Nash Cental High School.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Friday, August 23, 2019

Shemar Henderson was one of many around the state who kept an eye on the weather for Friday, the opening night of high school football.

The Nash Central junior running back recently went through his first training camp on varsity and he was ready for the real thing. Henderson didn’t want anything messing with his big day. The rain held off and Henderson shined as Nash Central picked up a Week 1 win over visiting Southeast Halifax, 26-0.

“It was a good feeling to play the first game,” Henderson said. “And thank goodness it didn't thunder or start raining. This is my first year on varsity and I was ready to play.”

Henderson rushed for a game-high 142 yards and scored a third-quarter touchdown that capped the scoring at 26. On Henderson’s 12-yard scoring run he raced around the edge and outran the Trojans’ defense to finish a 98-yard, 15-play drive that drained 6:24 off the clock.

The drive was important because Southeast Halifax (0-1) had possession just once in the quarter and was forced to punt.

Nash Central (1-0) started quick and put its brand new offensive line (with just one returning starter) to the test with a mix of sweep runs, dives and passing plays. Speedy running backs like Henderson and Deante Watson enjoyed the fine blocking, and quarterback Jaylan Williams had time to let plays develop. The Bulldogs took advantage scored touchdowns on their first three drives.

Williams tossed the first touchdown pass of the season on the game’s first drive, a 5-yard strike to tight end Brandyn Petteway who was all alone in the corner of the end zone on a naked bootleg. It was the linebacker Petteway’s first snaps playing tight end for the Bulldogs, and coach Chris Lee plans to study the film to see if his star tackler lost any energy playing both ways.

“We’ll have to look at the film to see if it affected him on defense, and if so we’ll have to spell him on offense,” Lee said. “If anything, he’s going to rest on offense and not rest on defense at all. So good to see him on a hot, humid day only ask to come out one time and it was on offense. He knows not to ask to come out on defense.”

Later, Watson and the Bulldogs took advantage of prime field position after defensive tackle Anthony Robinson recovered a fumble, and punched in a 3-yard rushing score for a 13-0 lead. Later in the opening quarter, Williams raced in from 7 yards out to take a 19-0 lead.

“I was very excited,” Petteway said of his first career touchdown reception. “I saw the corner come up and knew I'd be open and I knew I would catch the ball. It worked perfect. I knew when I lined up to look at the safety and if I see him come up I knew to just go behind him and, bam. Touchdown.”

The Bulldogs will travel to Southern Nash next Thursday.

Three things

1. The Nash Central defense was stifling on Friday, specifically against the running game. Southeast Halifax had five players run the football, and four were stopped for either zero or negative yards on their first rushing attempt of the game. Also, only two of the Trojans runners finished with positive yards in the game.

2. Brandyn Petteway, the senior linebacker and Bulldogs leading tackler the past two seasons, guided the defense in an inspired performance. The Nash Central defense held Southeast Halifax to 55 total yards (20 rushing and 35 through the air), and four first downs. The Bulldogs also forced three fumbles and recovered two.

3. Call it first-game jitters or rust, but Nash Central would like to clean up its penalties. The Bulldogs committed 12 in all for 86 yards.

He said it

Nash Central coach Chris Lee on quarterback Jaylan Williams: “He did a good job running the offense. Running, he had a couple chances to lower his shoulder and run over a guy. I’d rather see him drop his shoulder, especially around the goal line. The one touchdown he scored he danced around the kid and got inside the pylon, but, ‘Hey, run over that kid and take it in there.’”

Scoring plays

First quarter

NC — Brandyn Petteway 5 pass from Jaylan Williams (Landon Alford kick), 9:55

NC — Deante Watson 3 run (kick failed), 7:23

NC — Williams 7 run (kick failed), 1:23

Third quarter

NC — Shemar Henderson 12 run (Alford kick), 2.7

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