PREGAME CHATTER: Although their record is .500, it seems as if only North Edgecombe can stop its momentum. A week after fumbling away a game against Southeast Halifax, the Warriors returned to dominate Weldon, 28-8. Tonight, the Warriors have a shot at a team that won its first game of the season last week. North Edgecombe seeks its first back-to-back victory stretch of the season, and it likely will do so if it can win the turnover margin.
WHAT IT MEANS: North Edgecombe will have its second bye of the season next week. A victory tonight will make the anticipated Two Rivers Conference opener Oct. 11 that much easier to wait anticipate.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER: Warriors quarterback Jacoby Bullock. Bullock will make his second start of the season, and if he can give coach Keith Parisher another good effort, North Edgecombe will feel even more confident in its quarterback switch moving forward.
PREGAME CHATTER: The Bulldogs have yet to score double-digit points in a game this season, and their schedule won’t do them any favors. Hillside has lost back-to-back games, but it still has tons of talent and figures to become a 4-A playoffs team. Nash Central will have a big talent disadvantage in its final nonconference game of the season.
WHAT IT MEANS: A win might be out of the question for Nash Central, but this still presents a chance to improve before the Big East schedule begins. The Bulldogs showed in a loss to Wilson Beddingfield – a game mired by foolish personal fouls in the second half – that they have maturing to do. Now would be a good time to start.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER: Nash Central’s senior class. The Bulldogs are in need of leadership. It has to come soon.
PREGAME CHATTER: The rivalries are finished, but the tough games haven’t stopped. Rocky Mount welcomes in an unbeaten 3-A squad that has scored 26 touchdowns and more than twice as many points as the Gryphons have put up. The Hawks are allowing less than 18 points per game as well.
WHAT IT MEANS: As the last game before the conference season, this is the Gryphons’ final chance to prepare themselves. After last week’s debacle, during which Rocky Mount nearly lost a 21-point, fourth-quarter lead, the Gryphons will need to right the ship on all fronts.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER: Deangelo Swift and Ryan Harper will lead a Gryphons’ linebacking unit that will be charged with slowing down the Triton rushing attack, which averages 239 yards per game.
PREGAME CHATTER: For the first time in three years, the Knights are on a winning streak. Back-to-back wins against Warren County and Southern Vance have Northern Nash in position to climb back to .500 heading into a bye next week. Northern Nash is playing with confidence, something the winless Spartans are hoping to find after a 38-0 loss to Wilson Fike last week.
WHAT IT MEANS: Most of Northern Nash’s players never have seen a three-game winning streak. It means something to them, and obtaining it is part of turning their program around.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER Northern Nash’s running game. Smithfield-Selma’s defense has struggled mightily this season, allowing 228 through five games, and the Knights can make this game much easier on themselves by establishing the run. If the Knights can build a quick lead, Smithfield-Selma might be headed for 0-6.
PREGAME CHATTER: The Firebirds will be heavily favored tonight against the Chargers, who are allowing more than 43 points per game. Southern Nash is coming off a much-needed bye last week, and with a highly physical game against Tarboro looming next week, Southern Nash can do itself a big favor by turning this into a blowout.
WHAT IT MEANS: Staying perfect. The Firebirds can start 5-0 for the third time in five years.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER: The Chargers’ defensive line. If Ayden-Gifton has any hopes of winning this game, it has to start with its front four. Southern Nash will run all night if Ayden-Grifton lets it.
PREGAME CHATTER: Everything appears to be going right for the Eagles. After back-to-back games where the offense scored 50-plus points and the defense allowed just one score, Rocky Mount Academy heads to winless Merry Hill Lawrence Academy. Behind a balanced running attack, the Eagles should be able to duplicate the 81 points they scored last year against Lawrence Academy.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Eagles have back-to-back road games before returning home against Kinston Parrott Academy in three weeks. They have a great chance to win both and enter the final three games of the season – against three teams that beat them last year – with plenty of momentum.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER: The Eagles’ defense, which has allowed 21 total points in its three victories. Last year, Rocky Mount Academy allowed 52 points. Granted, that’s fewer than the 81 it scored, but it’s probably a little high for coach B.W. Holt.
PREGAME CHATTER: Returning home will be a nice change of pace for the Jaguars, who have lost four straight road games after winning the first home game in school history to open the season. It’s just not very likely that the result will be the same. Southeast Halifax comes into tonight as one of the favorites in the Tar-Roanoke Conference with victories against North Edgecombe and Northampton County.
WHAT IT MEANS: Another building block will be placed tonight for Rocky Mount Prep. Tonight’s contest will be about keeping the game close after allowing 50-plus points in three road losses during its four-game road trip.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER: Quarterback Mark Tann might be behind center for the Jaguars’ first full game as a spread offense. If they are, his play-making ability will be tested all night.
– Jessie H. Nunery, Justin Hite & Nick Piotrowicz