SWE (4-4, 3-1 EPC) AT T’BORO (7-0, 4-0)
PREGAME CHATTER: This is the big one. Every year, it’s the biggest game in Edgecombe County, and don’t expect that to change this year – especially since the Eastern Plains Conference title could be decided tonight. Tarboro comes in unbeaten, while SouthWest Edgecombe is licking its wounds after its first conference loss.
WHAT IT MEANS: Along with the conference title, playoffs seeding is on the line. The key to a deep run in the playoffs is home-field advantage, and only a high seed earns that.
KEY MATCHUP: SouthWest Edgecombe’s running attack vs. Tarboro’s defensive front. Not only does it pit two of the better players in the Twin Counties, SouthWest Edgecombe running back Gerald Hinton and Tarboro defensive end Tyquan Lewis, but it’s also the bread and butter of both teams.
W. FIKE (2-5, 1-1 BE) AT RM HIGH (6-1, 1-1)
PREGAME CHATTER: Last year, this game was a laugher, and it started the Gryphons’ downward spiral to end the season. But so much has changed. The Gryphons are a contender for the playoffs and could be one slip away from contending for the conference title, but they’ll need some help.
WHAT IT MEANS: Rocky Mount has a chance to show how it rebounds from a loss. That’ll be important because the No. 2 seed in the Big East Conference wide open.
KEY MATCHUP: Rocky Mount High’s defensive line vs. Wilson Fike’s running attack. The Gryphons will have to slow down Wilson Fike fullback Jorelle Farmer and quarterback Sam Ellis.
W. HUNT (6-0, 2-0 BE) AT SO. NASH (5-1, 2-0)
PREGAME CHATTER: The game of the night in the Big East likely will decide who wins the conference. The Warriors, with a victory, would stand at 3-0 having beaten their two biggest threats in the Big East. Southern Nash will learn a lot about itself in the next eight days: Rocky Mount awaits in Week 9.
WHAT IT MEANS: Taking control. The winner of this game will control its own destiny the remainder of the way.
KEY MATCHUP: Hunt running back Josh Joyner vs. Southern Nash’s linebackers. The Firebirds are without their two top linebackers, though their backups must play well to stop the best back in the Big East. If the Firebirds can contain Joyner, they’ll have an excellent shot at sole possession of first place.
N. CENTRAL (2-5, 0-2 BE) AT NO. NASH (2-5, 0-2)
PREGAME CHATTER: This games oozes with desperation. Nash Central hasn’t won a game since August, while Northern Nash has dropped their past three, two of them blowouts. Both teams need this win.
WHAT IT MEANS: Four teams from the Big East will make the playoffs. These two schools are the only two winless teams in the conference. Earning that fourth spot means winning this game, especially for the Bulldogs, who have yet to face Wilson Hunt and Southern Nash.
KEY MATCHUP: Northern Nash’s defense vs. Nash Central’s offense. The Knights have allowed 35 or more points four times in their past five games, while Nash Central has not scored more than 12 points since Aug. 24. One side will win the game for their squad.
WELDON (3-4, 1-2 T-RC) AT N. EDGECOMBE (2-4, 1-2)
PREGAME CHATTER: The Warriors barely earned their first conference victory last week against a winless team, but nonetheless, North Edgecombe remained afloat in the Tar-Roanoke Conference. Tonight’s game is huge. It comes against a Weldon squad that often is the difference between North Edgecombe winning or competing for a league crown.
This year is different. The Warriors need to win if they don’t plan on playing their final game of the season next week. Weldon lost by only two points last week to Northampton County, which is undefeated in league play.
WHAT IT MEANS: North Edgecombe can kiss goodbye a playoffs berth if it loses tonight.
KEY MATCHUP: Warriors backfield vs. Weldon defense. Darius Phillips and Antoine Pittman will have to perform well and take care of the ball if North Edgecombe is to have any chance tonight.
HOBGOOD ACAD. (5-2, 2-0) AT RM ACAD. (3-4, 1-2)
PREGAME CHATTER: The Eagles are back on the winning track after picking up their first road win of the season. But the schedule doesn’t ease up. Rocky Mount Academy faces a Hobgood Academy team that has won four of its past five games.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Eagles still have their sights on a .500 season. Right now, that means two wins to end the year. Hobgood Academy just happens to be first.
KEY MATCHUP: Rocky Mount Academy’s offense vs. Hobgood Academy’s. This was a shootout last year, and both defense’s have allowed 40 or more points in nine of their combined 14 games.
– Jessie H. Nunery, Justin Hite & Nick Piotrowicz