PREGAME CHATTER: The Yellowjackets have rolled in their first two games but largely as a result of their competition. Roanoke Rapids’ two wins were against two 1-A schools, one of which, Rocky Mount Prep, was playing its first-ever varsity game, while the other, Weldon, went 1-7 in 2011. The Bulldogs will provide Roanoke Rapids’ first real test.
WHAT IT MEANS: For the Bulldogs, this is the end of a three-week road trip to start the season. It has been filled with mixed results so far for Nash Central, which has seen strong play from its defense and offensive line but hampered itself with penalties and miscues. Beating a traditionally solid Roanoke Rapids team would send the Bulldogs into a three-game homestand with confidence.
KEY MATCHUP: Nash Central’s passing game vs. Roanoke Rapids’ defense. The Bulldogs still are finding their way through the air but might need a few big completions to earn their talented runners some space. In what figures to be a low-scoring game, yardage will be at a premium.
PREGAME CHATTER: The feeble need not apply. Both teams can hit and play defense, and since Mickey Crouch took over at Northern Nash and Jeff Craddock at Tarboro, this has been a bluntly physical series of games. There is no reason to believe either side will buck the trend tonight.
WHAT IT MEANS: A potential season-altering game. It’s difficult to say what happens to each team’s season if Northern Nash had been able to escape Tarboro with a victory in 2011. The Knights were turned away inside the red zone three times, including inside the final minute, in a 12-7, gut-check win for Tarboro. Tonight’s game could have the same implications.
KEY MATCHUP: Tarboro fullback Travonne Marshall vs. Northern Nash’s front seven. The Knights know how powerful Marshall is – he was a member of their squad for three years before moving to Edgecombe County – but stopping him 10-plus times will be another story. The Knights allowed nearly 300 yards rushing last week but won. They won’t be as fortunate if they allow that many yards this week.
PREGAME CHATTER:Suddenly the Gryphons are undefeated again, although not really on the field. The Gryphons didn’t appear to be pumped up on the field before last week’s victory against Bertie, but they sure showed enough enthusiasm once the game kicked off. This week, they’ll play a tougher opponent, and one that can put points on the board.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Gryphons are staring three victories in the face. Why is that important? It’s the same number of games that Rocky Mount High won last season – although they did win their first three a year ago, too. Keep that in mind.
KEY MATCHUP: Gryphons’ defensive end Dante Battle vs. Hertford County running back Kenneth Sharpe. Sure, the game won’t come down to just these two players, but if Battle and his linemates can slow down Sharpe, who has a 10-yard average through two games, it’ll go a long way.
PREGAME CHATTER: The buzz in the air around the Rocky Mount Academy campus should be that the Eagles are back. After nearly pulling off an upset victory last week, Rocky Mount Academy has a great shot at victory tonight, which hasn’t happened in two years.
WHAT IT MEANS: Last week showed the Eagles that the hard work is worth it. Now, first-year coach B.W. Holt has to show them that it can translate into wins.
KEY MATCHUP: Adam Bayless vs. Southampton Academy. Bayless has the size, experience and the will to carry the Eagles to a win. He’ll need some help, but another three-score game from the fullback could ring the bells of victory.
PREGAME CHATTER: The Jaguars had all the hope in the world two weeks ago. Now, that has come crashing down. Coach Don Reams’ hopeful prediction of three victories is further away after last week’s loss, and the Jaguars have allowed 108 points in the first two weeks.
WHAT IT MEANS: For the rest of the season the Jaguars are looking for their first victory in the program’s history. That’s what every game means. Some just mean it a little more. This is one of those.
KEY MATCHUP: Rocky Mount Prep vs. itself. Last week, the Jaguars fumbled away the game, putting the ball on the ground 10 times. They’ll have to cut down on that number if they stand any chance at winning this season.
– Justin Hite & Nick Piotrowicz