Rocky Mount High
While everyone in the crowd, on the field and on the sidelines expects Rocky Mount High running back Mason Hines to dominate, it was the Gryphons’ other running backs who made the bigger plays Friday night to keep Rocky Mount (4-0) undefeated.
Hines did run a career-high 27 times, but it was Ahmad Harrell who broke a 34-yard touchdown run on only his second carry.
Broderick Caudle spent most of the second half on the bench and had only two touches before the final drive. But he broke free for 16-yard and 14-yard carries that kept the final drive alive after Rocky Mount High lost yardage.
“We felt like, offensively (Friday), the big players were Broderick Caudle and Ahmad Harrell,” coach Jason Battle said. “What Mason Hines does, that’s what we expect from him anyway.”
Tyrell Williams carried the ball 16 times for 59 yards, and Rashawn Harris turned six carries into 38 yards. Joseph Cooper’s first appearance even turned in 24 yards as the Gryphons have found more than just one running back to carry the ball.
Onside kicks, hook-and-laterals, play-action passes – it all worked for the Firebirds in a 42-14 victory against Roanoke Rapids on Friday.
Southern Nash’s double-wing, double-tight system is so unique that it even creates a bit of a surprise for the Firebirds come game nights.
With nearly 400 yards rushing against the Yellowjackets, the surprise was a good one.
“It helps to see film on people just to see personnel, but really, as far as how they’re going to line up, we never know until the game starts,” Southern Nash coach Brian Foster said. “Then we just make our calls, and hopefully, we can block ’em. If we do, we look good. If we don’t, we look bad.”
Through four games, it’s looking more like there isn’t anyone whom the Firebirds can’t block. Southern Nash’s offensive line has dominated the opposing front seven in every game thus far.
“They’ve done a good job all year,” Foster said. “Those guys have done work, and that’s what should happen. That’s where our experience is. They’re some good kids up there.”
With a 49-0 victory against North Edgecombe, Tarboro earned its fourth double-digit victory in four weeks, and will open Eastern Plains Conference play this week at home against North Pitt.
Coach Jeff Craddock’s message to his team? Forget about it.
All of it.
“Like I told the guys, the good news is that you’re 4-0. That bad news is that nobody cares now,” Craddock said. “We have to completely re-focus for a very good North Pitt team.”
Travonne Marshall, whom the Vikings converted from safety to defensive end and now to linebacker, showed skill for the new spot. He made 13 tackles, forced a fumble and added his normal big rushing effort on the other side of the ball.
Craddock said he saw more consistency out of his team this week, which was exactly what he wanted heading into the most important part of the schedule.
“We played hard, but we played with a little more consistency, which had been lacking at times,” he said. “There was improvement, and as a coach, that’s what you hope for.”
The Knights improved to 2-2 in dramatic fashion. Tied at 14, Northern Nash quarterback Marquez Farmer completed a pass to Kendrick Richardson, who was able to sneak inside Winterville South Central’s 5-yard line.
Kicker Dylan Hodges made a short field goal as time expired to give the Knights a win.
But after leading, 14-0, at half, the Knights let a team back into the game for the third time in four weeks.
“We still have a bunch of young kids, and we’re going to get better,” Northern Nash coach Mickey Crouch said. “We’ll make some personnel changes this week and see if that helps.”
Northern Nash everyman and Duke recruit Quay Mann did not play because of an infection, though Crouch said Mann has been cleared to play next week against Wilmington Laney.
The Knights made a slight scheme change before the South Central game, and Crouch said he expects it to help with the squad’s troublesome run defense.
“We went back to what we had been doing last year, and the kids did pretty good with it for only practicing it a few days,” Crouch said. “We should be better with more time.”
The Bulldogs know they have the personnel to be a winning football team.
They also know that they can’t be a winning team until they stop making it difficult on themselves.
Penalties and turnovers cost the Bulldogs in a 13-8 loss against Hertford County.
“We’d make a couple of good plays, then we’d have breakdowns with turnovers and penalties, and we can’t afford to have those,” Nash Central coach Kevin Crudup said. “They’re not just drive killers, but they’re momentum changers.”
The Bulldogs also will have to address the way teams approach them.
The Bears used most of their resources to stop the run, and Nash Central couldn’t make them pay for it with their passing game. Nash Central completed one of its nine passes for five yards.
“They dared us to pass, and we couldn’t,” Crudup said. “Once our passing game gets figured out, we’ll be dangerous. It’s the only piece of the puzzle missing right now, but we’ll be ready for the next team that dares us to pass.”
After a nonconference schedule that included the top three teams in the Big East Conference, things won’t ease up for the Cougars next week.
To start the conference season, SouthWest Edgecombe (1-3) travels to Kinston, which is ranked No. 1 in the state.
So far things haven’t gone well for the Cougars. SouthWest Edgecombe lost in the final seconds against Southern Nash, on two late touchdowns to Wilson Hunt and because of an unlucky bounce against Rocky Mount High.
But it’s nothing they haven’t been through before. Last year was just as hard.
“This team stuck together, and I know they’ll stick together here,” said coach Raymond Cobb, who asked his 24 seniors to hold the team together after Friday’s loss. “We’ll come back, and we are going to work our tails off next week. We are going to Kinston, and we are going to see what happens.”
Rocky Mount Academy
On the cusp of its first victory in more than two years, Rocky Mount Academy still could not play a solid enough second half to end its losing streak.
But this time, after the Eagles (0-3) trailed by just two points at the half, injuries caught up with them. Starting running back Linwood Jones and starting linebacker Kasey Royster both missed the second half with injuries. Backup running back Chris Jenkins played the second half injured.
“We were down pretty thin, but our kids played hard,” coach B.W. Holt said.
Rocky Mount Academy fumbled twice and was the victim of an alleged extra down given to Kinston Parrott Academy in the second half.
Still, Holt said this was the most complete game he had seen out of the Eagles.
“That’s the first time we’ve come close to playing four quarters,” Holt said. “I thought we played it harder and longer.”
Despite a 49-point loss to cross-county rival Tarboro, North Edgecombe coach Keith Parrisher found some positive things to take away from the game.
More specifically, he found some new places for his players to make a positive impact.
“We moved some people around on defense that we think are better fitted in the positions we now have them in than where we had them before,” Parrisher said. “We had some younger guys that stepped up.”
Trequez Johnson played outside linebacker, where he previously had never played, and Kahill Deloach moved down to defensive end from linebacker.
“Those little things like that, we try to make some things happen,” Parrisher said.
But the Warriors (1-2) still are waiting on their biggest change. Senior running back Darius Phillips was cleared to play by doctors Friday night against Tarboro, but Phillips and Parrisher decided it would be best to hold the Warriors’ top running back out one more week for safety precautions.
Parrisher expects Phillips back on the field next Friday.
Rocky Mount Prep
First-year coach Don Reams loves the Tarboro-T. He grew up with it while he was an assistant coach at multiple schools in Edgecombe County.
But he knows his team doesn’t have the strength to run it. So on Friday night, Reams started to unveil the “Prep Spread.”
While Rocky Mount Prep (0-4) lost 51-12 to Plymouth, the spread offense started to make some strides.
Mark Tann threw a touchdown pass and ran for another, but the Jaguars went 9-for-12 in the air.
“As much as I love the T, our spread offense has been more productive,” said Reams, who has 15 freshmen and sophomores on a roster of less than 30.