Nash Central broke through in many ways Friday night against Northern Nash.
The Bulldogs (3-5, 1-2 Big East) ended a four-game losing streak, won their first conference game, and most importantly, stayed alive for one of the Big East’s four playoffs berths.
“It’s huge because we’ve come up short the last two weeks in games we felt like a play here and a play there, and we are in a position to win the game,” Nash Central coach Kevin Crudup said. “To come up short is discouraging when you prepare all week. The kids and assistant coaches kept focus on what our objectives were.”
Nash Central’s offense tied its season-high mark in points (33).
Crudup said his team was aware that a loss would likely have put them out of the picture, but things remain in the Bulldogs’ hands, even if their next two games come against league leader Wilson Hunt and Southern Nash (tied for second place).
“We have some control over our own desitny,” Crudup said.
The final score might not have agreed with Southern Nash, but the Firebirds and coach Brian Foster earned a kind of win against Wilson Hunt on Friday night.
The Warriors won, 30-21, though the game was tied at 21 in the fourth quarter.
Southern Nash was without almost half their starting unit by the game’s end.
“I couldn’t be prouder – you just had to see our sideline,” Foster said. “... But I have no doubt we won (Friday). I know the scoreboard, but people come to the game not knowing what we’ve been through. If they knew, they’d be amazed.”
Southern Nash will travel to Rocky Mount High this week, with the winner taking sole possession of second place in the Big East.
And no matter the circumstances, Foster said it’s no time to reflect.
“One thing I learned a long time ago in coaching is that no one is going to feel sorry for you,” Foster said. “They only care if you win or lose.”
Sometimes one play can change a game, whether it’s a made play or a missed one.
SouthWest Edgecombe missed a big opportunity early in its loss to Tarboro on Friday night, and coach Raymond Cobb would have loved to see how his team responded if it made the play.
Designed to be a halfback pass to quarterback Quay Wooten, running back Gerald Hinton took a toss to his right. Wooten was wide open, but Hinton decided to run.
“I’d have loved to see us throw that football,” Cobb said. “We had what we dialed up. ... If we had executed that play the way it was dialed up, I would have loved to see how we respond.”
The play was designed to look pass then run. But Hinton was brought down for a gain of one yard. SouthWest Edgecombe’s first drive stalled shortly afterward.
“For the most part, the effort was there,” Cobb said. “We missed some things early that we were trying to do.”
The Cougars (4-5, 3-2 Eastern Plains) will play in their final game Friday against Greene Central.
Rocky Mount High
The Gryphons continue to put faith in their passing game.
Rocky Mount coach Jason Battle put the ball in the hands of quarterback J.T. Smith during some crucial drives in the second half of Friday’s 28-14 victory against Wilson Fike.
Although Smith completed only one of his four attempts in the second half, the big one was an 11-yard completion to Mason Hines, which converted a third down and led to the game-clinching touchdown. Smith faced pressure on the throw, but made the correct read to complete the pass.
Prior to the drive and the completion, the Gryphons (7-1, 2-1 Big East) were stalling on offense.
“J.T. is growing up as a quarterback, as a leader,” Battle said. “There’s growth in him every week.
His decision making is getting better, and he is gaining confidence.”
Vikings’ coach Jeff Craddock said that Friday night’s 43-22 victory against SouthWest Edgecombe was probably the best game his team has played all year.
That doesn’t mean that he was completely satisfied with his team’s performance.
“As a coach, you’re always pushing for perfection,” Craddock said. “I don’t like giving up a drive at the end. If you look at the game from top to bottom, we played hard. ... SouthWest is a good football team. To come out of here with a 20-point victory says a lot about our team.”
Tarboro (8-0, 4-0 Eastern Plains) allowed SouthWest Edgecombe to score in the final 2:30 of both the first and second halves.
But there were times when both the offense and defense looked near perfect. Tarboro scored on five of its first six possessions before its defense held the Cougars to just one first down on four straight possessions.
“We’re getting better,” Craddock said. “Our football team is coming together, we still have things to clean up, like always.”
The Warriors earned a big win Friday when they knocked off Tar-Roanoke Conference foe Weldon, 14-8.
North Edgecombe (4-4, 2-2 T-RC) currently holds fourth place in the league and its final playoffs spot heading into Friday’s season-finale at Gates County.
The victory was especially impressive considering the team practiced without its head coach all week. Keith Parisher had gallbladder surgery earlier in the week after suffering with pain for the past three weeks.
Parisher returned to the sidelines Friday night, where he often was shielded by his players and assistants any time a play came near him.
“We’ve got a great coaching staff and a great group of kids,” said Parisher, who said he is feeling better aside from some fatigue. “They worked hard all week and responded with me not being there. My assistants have done a great job.”