NORTHERN NASH AT ROCKY MOUNT HIGH
PREGAME CHATTER: It’s the end of the line for the regular season, highlighted by an intense rivalry game with not-so-distinct lines. Every year between these schools is a battle with serious implications, because more often than not a successful season is defined by which team beat the other. Last year’s 28-0 victory by Northern Nash was the only Big East Conference victory for both teams. That situation has changed for Rocky Mount High. It’s the same for the Knights.
WHAT IT MEANS: For Northern Nash, a win tonight could save its season from embarrassment. The Gryphons want to win their rivalry game, as well, but they have secured the No. 3 spot in the conference.
KEY MATCHUP: Rocky Mount High running back Mason Hines vs. Northern Nash’s front seven. Hines exploded for four touchdowns and nearly 300 yards on the ground alone last week. The Knights will have to slow that down tonight.
ROCKY MOUNT ACADEMY AT RALEIGH WORD OF GOD
PREGAME CHATTER: This wasn’t the matchup Rocky Mount Academy coach B.W. Holt thought he was going to be facing. When he thought the Eagles were going to play Hobgood Academy, he said it would take their best game. Now that they are opening the playoffs with two-time defending state champion, Raleigh Word of God, the Eagles might need a little better than their best game. Word of God defeated Rocky Mount Academy 54-0 four weeks ago.
WHAT IT MEANS: Another week to live on for both teams. But for Word of God, it means living up to what everyone expects. The Eagles are looking for the major upset.
KEY MATCHUP: The Eagles’ defense vs. the Word of God attack. Rocky Mount Academy has to slow down Word of God. That’s non-negotiable.
SOUTHERN NASH AT NASH CENTRAL
PREGAME CHATTER: Nash Central went into Bailey in 2011 and cemented second place in the Big East, and Southern Nash has a chance to do the same thing tonight. No matter what happens between Wilson Hunt and Wilson Fike, the Firebirds cannot surpass the Warriors because they lost the head-to-head matchup. What they can do is avoid a possible three-way tie for second by taking care of business against the Bulldogs.
WHAT IT MEANS: Nash Central has the slimmest of hopes of making the 3-A playoffs, but all of those are contingent on winning tonight. Because they lost to Fike and Rocky Mount High, the Bulldogs cannot earn one of the Big East Conference’s four guaranteed spots. With four wins, though, they’ll be eligible for an at-large bid. It’s a slim chance, but Nash Central can earn a spot with a win.
KEY MATCHUP: Nash’s Central’s front seven vs. Southern Nash’s offensive line. The Firebirds could be without as many as three starters on the offensive line, including their two best linemen. The position group is Southern Nash’s best and the biggest part of the Firebirds’ offense, and the Bulldogs will need to win up front to keep them at bay.
TARBORO AT WILSON BEDDINGFIELD
PREGAME CHATTER: Tarboro has been a program of small goals, big goals and even bigger goals. Tonight, it’ll earn a chance to mark off another accomplishment when it visits Wilson Beddingfield in the regular-season finale. Tarboro has blown through most of its EPC opponents, winning by an average margin of 19 points.
WHAT IT MEANS: A chance for Tarboro to claim the Eastern Plains Conference title and the program’s second perfect regular season in the past four years.
KEY MATCHUP: Tarboro secondary vs. Bruins wide receiver Terrence Peterson. Peterson hauled in 133 receiving yards and a touchdown last week against second-place North Pitt.
ROCKY MOUNT PREP AT WELDON
PREGAME CHATTER: The Jaguars have one final chance to pick up their first win, and although they’ve improved much of the season, it’ll be a tough task to accomplish. Rocky Mount Prep still can’t hold on to the ball and continues to make mental errors.
WHAT IT MEANS: Rocky Mount Prep’s first win. Plain and simple.
KEY MATCHUP: The Jaguars have to control what they can control: Themselves.
- Jessie H. Nunery, Justin Hite & Nick Piotrowicz