PREGAME CHATTER: The Cougars have won two straight games, and they are off to an excellent start in Eastern Plains Conference play. Wilson Beddingfield is playing some good ball, too. Something will have to give tonight as two of the better teams in the conference meet in an effort to separate themselves in the standings. Beddingfield has not defeated SouthWest Edgecombe since the formation of the current EPC in 2009.
WHAT IT MEANS: One of these two teams is going home with their first conference loss.
KEY MATCHUP: The Cougars’ secondary vs. the Bruins’ wide receivers. Beddingfield’s wideouts are a big reason why the squad is averaging 34.5 points in its two EPC games.
PREGAME CHATTER: Theout-of-conference slate certainly was different for these two teams, but it doesn’t matter now. The new (and more important) season begins tonight, and the first five weeks hold no merit. The Bulldogs won this contest, 24-16, a year ago, but both squads have changed drastically. Nash Central lost almost all of its powerful offense, and Rocky Mount High has improved.
WHAT IT MEANS: In the Big East, you never know where your next win will come from. With a conference this equal, each win is a massive step toward securing a top four spot in the league and a playoffs berth.
KEY MATCHUP: Nash Central’s passing game vs. Rocky Mount’s defense. Nash Central coach Kevin Crudup has said that the Bulldogs won’t start winning until they can make teams pay for cheating toward the run. The Gryphons are going to make the Bulldogs throw. Can they do enough to keep their offense on the field?
PREGAME CHATTER: The Warriors are the clear favorite to win the Big East, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be beaten by any of their conference opponents. The Knights aren’t nearly as deep as Hunt, though they have the playmakers to pull off the upset. Cornerback Quay Mann, quarterback Marquez Farmer and running back Quez Avent have to be dynamic for the Knights to start 1-0 in the conference.
WHAT IT MEANS: On paper, this is the Knights’ most difficult game. A Big East victory against the defending conference champs would be a big moment in Northern Nash’s resurgence.
KEY MATCHUP: Hunt running back Josh Joyner vs. Northern Nash’s run defense. Put simply, Northern Nash will win or lose based upon its ability to slow Joyner. The Knights’ run defense was porous in a loss to Tarboro and a win against South Central, but now would be a good time to correct that. If Joyner rushes freely, it will be a long night for Northern Nash.
PREGAME CHATTER: The Firebirds received a hit to their high-flying season in their Week 5 loss to South Granville. Southern Nash’s last-ditch Week 1 victory was followed by three blowout wins, but it all came unglued in their latest game. Coach Brian Foster and his staff adjust as well as anyone. The Firebirds rarely play poorly two games in a row.
WHAT IT MEANS: The difference between third and fourth place in the conference last season was decided by this game, which Southern Nash lost in overtime. As the conference picture becomes clearer in the next few weeks, this will be a key game for whichever squad leaves the field victorious tonight.
KEY MATCHUP: Southern Nash’s offensive line vs. Fike’s defensive line. The Firebirds’ best position group is their line, and as we found at against South Granville, it dictates how the Firebirds will fare. Southern Nash is usually in good shape if its linemen are playing well.
PREGAME CHATTER: Tarboro returns from a bye week to play a struggling Greene Central squad. The Vikings used the time off to improve on individual and team needs, and they also celebrated the commitment by defensive end Tyquan Lewis to Ohio State. Now, it’s back to business and a march toward a conference championship.
WHAT IT MEANS: Tarboro clearly is the more talented of the two teams, and it will be interesting to see how the Vikings turn it up a notch after the bye week.
KEY MATCHUP: Lewis vs. Greene Central offensive line. Now that Lewis has his commitment out of the way, he is free to play with less on his mind. Could we see an even better effort out of the future Big Ten player?
PREGAME CHATTER: Two wins in a row and what is the award for the Eagles? A road matchup with the back-to-back NCISAA state champion, Raleigh Word of God. But this is no usual matchup, because this isn’t the same Rocky Mount Academy team. The Eagles’ running attack is in full stride, and they even showed a little deception by throwing the ball last week.
WHAT IT MEANS: An upset solidifies one thing: The Eagles have a chance to contend for the state championship. A chance. More than anything it proves coach B.W. Holt has Rocky Mount Academy on the right track.
KEY MATCHUP: Rocky Mount Academy’s defense vs. the Word of God attack. The Eagles can score. There’s no doubting that. But they haven’t proven they can stop anyone in nearly three weeks. They’ll have to stop Word of God a few times to pull off an upset.
PREGAME CHATTER: The Warriors were able to stop a three-game slide Monday night with a win against first-year squad Rocky Mount Prep. The good news was that North Edgecombe moved the ball well and gained some confidence after failing to score in its previous two games. The competition improves tonight against Northampton County, which is in its first year after the East and West schools merged.
WHAT IT MEANS: If North Edgecombe falls into an 0-2 hole in the Tar-Roanoke Conference, it can kiss goodbye its chances at a league title.
KEY MATCHUP: Warriors quarterback Travonte Collins vs. Northampton County’s defense. When Collins is in a groove, he settles down the offense, and North Edgecombe will need to put up some points tonight to earn the win.
PREGAME CHATTER: This week the Jaguars will play likely their toughest opponent to date. The task looks tough especially since Rocky Mount Prep is allowing more than 50 points per game, while scoring barely more than 10. In five games this season, the Jaguars have scored nine times.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Jaguars still are looking for their first varsity win. They just might have to look a little further than tonight.
KEY MATCHUP: Rocky Mount Prep vs. itself. The Jaguars have been plagued by fumbles and inconsistency all year, and although tonight might not put an end to the trend, it’ll be good for Rocky Mount Prep to try and make strides in adjusting its poor play.
– Jessie H. Nunery, Justin Hite & Nick Piotrowicz