PREGAME CHATTER: The beauty in this matchup is that it takes on great importance for a few hours, then the two squads and coaching staff wish each other well for the remainder of the season. Neither team is an obstacle for the other except for tonight, when the Warriors try to end a losing streak to the Cougars that dates back a decade. North Edgecombe opened the season with a convincing 40-6 victory last week at Northwest Halifax, while SouthWest Edgecombe had an up-and-down performance in losing 27-14 to Southern Nash. Cougars coach Jonathan Cobb returns to the site of many of his favorite childhood memories, the same place where his father, Raymond, led the Warriors to a pair of state titles in the 1990s.
WHAT IT MEANS: It’s an all-Edgecombe County matchup. Need we say more?
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER: SouthWest Edgecombe’s Devontrell Hyman. Hyman rushed for 143 yards on just 13 carries last week, and it will be of the greatest importance for North Edgecombe to slow down the Cougars’ top rusher.
PREGAME CHATTER: If this matchup sounds a little familiar, it’s because it should. These same schools faced off in the NCHSAA 3-A boys’ basketball eastern regional championship early this year. Granted, there aren’t too many holdovers – other than Gryphons running back Broderick Caudle and quarterback J.T. Smith – and Oxford Webb probably doesn’t have another All-American – forward Isaiah Hicks will play for North Carolina this year. So there’s not much to compare other than the fact that these two schools have some sort of history and maybe a little bad blood.
WHAT IT MEANS: Both teams started off the season with almost identical victories. The Gryphons beat South Granville, 27-14, and Oxford Webb knocked off Granville Central, 28-14. So both are looking to start the season off with two victories. That might mean more for Oxford Webb, which won just three games in each of the past two seasons.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER: Rashawn Harris. He was the difference in Week 1 and has a chance to follow up that two-touchdown performance in Week 2. He likely will be the best player on the field tonight.
PREGAME CHATTER: Washington opened the season with a 28-6 loss to Havelock, which is the top 3-A team in the latest ncpreps.com poll. The Pam Pack stopped a four-game streak of extreme blowout defeats to Tarboro last season, losing only by 13 points. Tarboro expects tonight’s game to be tougher as it moves through a challenging nonconference schedule.
WHAT IT MEANS: Tarboro’s resume shows that it wins a whole lot more than it loses. However, each week of the year is about establishing an identity, and the 2013 squad is only in the early stages of that process. Nash Central did a pretty good job of slowing the Vikings’ big-play ability in Week 1, and the Vikings don’t plan on being a mediocre offense.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER: Washington running back Markel Spencer, who rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown against a strong Havelock team last week. Tarboro’s defense held Nash Central to 46 yards and no points last week, so something will give tonight.
PREGAME CHATTER: Another week means another powerful opponent for the Bulldogs. Kinston, the 2011 2-A runner-up, consistently has been scoring in the 30s and 40s during the past three seasons, and a 41-point showing in a Week 1 victory against Trenton Jones indicates more of the same. Nash Central’s defense played well last week against Tarboro given it was on the field nearly all night, but Kinston’s aerial prowess presents a new test.
WHAT IT MEANS: A chance to improve for Nash Central. The Bulldogs’ schedule is tough and becoming tougher, but nonconference games aren’t Nash Central’s focus. The Bulldogs want to challenge for a playoffs spot in the Big East Conference, and doing so means making strides against a good team. The offense managed only 46 yards last week. This is a chance for the Bulldogs to make major strides.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER: Nash Central’s offense. If the unit is in disarray like it was in Week 1 against Tarboro, a similarly lopsided result is to follow. Against a powerful Kinston offense, Nash Central will have to keep the chains moving.
PREGAME CHATTER: The Knights’ first chance at a win under new coach Randy Raper was a near miss. Northern Nash fell, 32-36, in overtime against Wendell Corinth-Holders, but as Raper has said all along, this season isn’t about wins and losses for Northern Nash. He wants to see consistent improvement every week, and Northeastern, a third-round 2-A finisher last year, provides an opportunity to play with another good team.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Knights are learning how to win games, and this contest should provide another lesson in how to play in a close game. Raper said he thought the Knights became passive with the game on the line in Week 1, and that the team will have to overcome the desire to play safe. The Eagles provide another stiff test for the Knights.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER: The first quarter. Northeastern hammered Southern Vance, 43-0, on the road to open the season. The Eagles can be a frightening team if they are allowed to establish a rhythm, something the Knights must work to prevent. The first couple of possessions for either team will say a lot about the rest of the night. Northern Nash has to make its chances count.
PREGAME CHATTER: How good it must feel. The Jaguars have spent the week, although likely just the first day of it, celebrating the school’s first victory. The big test is how will Rocky Mount Prep respond. Is there a hangover or a desire to put up another W? They’ll play a team that lost in Week 1, and the Jaguars will return to a familiar place – the road.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Jaguars have a chance at something special again: The school’s first winning streak. Plus, it’s the start of a four-game road trip for Rocky Mount Prep, but that’s not something the Jaguars are unaccustomed to doing.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER: Mark Tann showed in Week 1 that he can be an elite playmaker. He laid a big hit in the first quarter from his position at safety, setting the tone, and then he scored in the final minutes to give the Jaguars their first win.
PREGAME CHATTER: A new year has dawned on the Eagles, and it’s one with a lot of promise and quite a few expectations as well. Last year, the Eagles made the playoffs only to fall to the eventual state champion in the first round. They’ll start the regular season the same way they finished the last one. Rocky Mount Academy is hoping the result is the same as well: A victory against Halifax Academy.
WHAT IT MEANS: If Rocky Mount Academy wants to compete for a state title or even compete for a home playoffs game, it’ll have to win the games it should. After winning by 41 last year, this is a game the Eagles should win again.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER: Rocky Mount Academy will run something most eight-man teams won’t see much of this year. Coach B.W. Holt wants to run a double wing, and right now, he has the speed to do it – even in eight-man football.
– Jessie H. Nunery, Justin Hite & Nick Piotrowicz