PREGAME CHATTER: Which Two Rivers Conference team will be the first to knock off Tarboro? Riverside-Martin comes to town with a 2-0 conference record, but it is hard to tell which Knights team will take the field. Is Riverside-Martin the team that managed only 16 points least week in the first half against North Edgecombe or the squad that exploded for 30 points in the second half of the same game? Tarboro likely won’t score 78 points like it did last week against Rocky Mount Prep, but the Vikings seem to be gaining momentum at the right time of the season.
WHAT IT MEANS: There will be few separation games during the conference season for Tarboro, but this is one of them considering the league records.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Tarboro’s defense. Riverside-Martin has averaged 53 points in its past two games. Nobody scores 50 points on Tarboro, and the Vikings will like to prove that point tonight.
PREGAME CHATTER: The Eagles’ revenge tour continues tonight in the NCISAA regular-season finale. The playoffs begin next week, and momentum always is important this time of year. Gaining that momentum and rebounding from only the second loss of the season would also mean avenging last season’s one-point, season-opening defeat to Cary Christian.
WHAT IT MEANS: While the Eagles were beaten last week, all is not lost. Rocky Mount Academy still can secure a high seed in the playoffs and possibly a home game.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: The Eagles’ resolve failed them last week against Southampton Academy. They were scored on twice on fourth-down passing plays. Focus will be key, too. The Eagles can’t let Southampton beat them twice.
PREGAME CHATTER: Both sides are coming off tough losses, but both had something to like. Nash Central found some offense after moving Khalil Macklin to quarterback, where he will start again tonight, and the offensive line played its best game. Northern Nash played another gritty game against a Big East contender, and its toughness is proving its greatest asset.
WHAT IT MEANS: Northern Nash hasn’t won a Big East game since 2011. Nash Central hasn’t won a game this season. One of those things will change tonight, and the desperation from both sides should make for a tense game.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Points off turnovers. The two teams have scored a combined 31 offensive points in four Big East games, and with both sides relying on their defenses, one big defensive play could be the difference.
PREGAME CHATTER: The Gryphons sure had a wake-up call last week against Wilson Hunt, allowing a season-high 48 points and turning over the ball six times. Rocky Mount did have some pop to its offense, but it completely derailed itself by committing bad turnovers – both forced and unforced.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Gryphons have a chance to erase all of their problems from last week because a win this week puts them right back in Big East title contention.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Turnovers. Without giving the ball away, the Gryphons would have had a chance to win last Friday. They still did, but any team that turns over the ball six times won’t win.
PREGAME CHATTER: Hunt’s previous loss in the Big East? Oct. 22, 2010, when the Warriors lost to Southern Nash. Hunt has beaten 16 straight Big East teams since then, and the Warriors still have yet to lose a Big East game at home.
WHAT IT MEANS: Southern Nash’s Big East hopes either will live or die tonight. If the Firebirds are to win the conference, they’ll need to win tonight and hope Hunt can beat Wilson Fike, to which Southern Nash lost two weeks ago. It’s highly unlikely the conference winner will have two losses.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Mistakes. Southern Nash made plenty of them in last week’s game against Northern Nash, and even though it won, the coaching staff wasn’t happy with the effort. If Southern Nash has a repeat effort tonight, it’s difficult to see them leaving Hunt with a victory.
PREGAME CHATTER: The third conference game of the year usually is a big test, and this one will let both squads know where they stand. Both squads have win against the league’s bottom feeders (North Pitt, North Johnston), but neither team fared well against first-place Washington. The Cougars and Jaguars converge tonight in a meaningful game in which the loser will slip into fourth place in the Eastern Plains Conference.
WHAT IT MEANS: Fourth place is not what either team envisioned prior to the season, but that will be the standing of the losing squad.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: SouthWest Edgecombe’s offensive line. Facing a strong Washington team, the Cougars were not able to run between the tackles last week. That will have to change tonight, as it is SouthWest Edgecombe’s best chance to open up its passing game.
PREGAME CHATTER: Matching records and similar results against common opponent means just one thing: The Jaguars have a chance at victory tonight. Two Rivers Conference favorite Tarboro defeated both South Creek and Rocky Mount Prep by 40-plus points.
WHAT IT MEANS: A rare shot at victory. Rocky Mount Prep might not have another chance for a win this season, and it is important for the Jaguars to take forward steps when they are placed in front of them.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: The Jaguars themselves. Rocky Mount Prep has to avoid beating itself.
PREGAME CHATTER: North Edgecombe will prove whether it belongs in the top half of the league’s contenders with how well it plays tonight. The Warriors played a forgettable second half of football last week in a 56-14 loss to Riverside-Martin. Northampton County made a third-round state playoffs appearance last season, and it opened this season with five consecutive victories.
WHAT IT MEANS: A loss tonight and North Edgecombe will be in fourth place in the Two Rivers Conference. It just might be a hole the Warriors will be unable to dig out with only two games remaining, including one against Tarboro.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: When all else fails, North Edgecombe’s running game is strong, and if there were a night when the Warriors need to give brusing running back Antwoine Pittman the ball, this would be the evening.
– Jessie H. Nunery, Justin Hite & Nick Piotrowicz