PREGAME CHATTER: Neither team opened the conference season in a manner it envisioned last week. Northern Nash lost, 14-7, to defending conference champion Wilson Hunt, while Southern Nash lost its first game of the season to Wilson Fike, 33-27. There was enough to like about how both teams played in the losses. Northern Nash’s defense was solid, and Southern Nash’s rushing attack finished with more than 300 yards. But neither team made the important play down the stretch. The conference season comes and goes quickly, and neither team wants to fade away after just two weeks.
WHAT IT MEANS: One team will be 0-2 in the Big East after tonight, leaving a pressure-packed, three-week stretch that will decide its postseason fate.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Northern Nash’s Kendrick Richardson. Whether he is lined up on offense or defense, Southern Nash will have to account for Richardson’s whereabouts.
PREGAME CHATTER: In addition to the postgame handshakes, there likely will be hugs and promises to call each other soon. In a game that Tarboro coach Jeff Craddock has admitted he rather would not see play out, his Vikings face Rocky Mount Prep and their coach, Don Reams. Reams was a long-time Tarboro assistant who is in his second season of helping the Jaguars build a program. Reams is close with the entire Tarboro coaching staff, and his Jaguars come into the contest undermanned and in the midst of a six-game losing slide.
WHAT IT MEANS: Tarboro is the class of the conference, and Rocky Mount Prep is looking up at each of its Two Rivers opponents. This is about as much of a mismatch as one can find.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Tarboro’s reserves. The Vikings likely will score quickly and easily tonight, leaving the second half as a chance for the backup players to determine whether Tarboro keeps its momentum going for 48 minutes.
PREGAME CHATTER: All three Big East Conference games in the first week of the league schedule were decided by one score. With parity at an alltime high in the conference, every win will be key. One of these teams will be 2-0 after this week, and that’s a pretty pedestal to be sitting at this point.
WHAT IT MEANS: Rocky Mount hasn’t beaten Wilson Hunt in four years since the Warriors joined the Big East Conference. That’s always a good streak to end.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: The Gryphons have the top defense in the conference, allowing exactly 100 points – 7.4 points per game. The unit will have to be stout all season.
PREGAME CHATTER: Try and find a bigger regular season game for the Eagles in recent memory. There isn’t one. Rocky Mount Academy comes in on a five-game winning streak – posting at least 52 points per game and allowing only 19 points total. But this is the big test. Southampton Academy is the defending state champion and has lost just once during the regular season in the past two years.
WHAT IT MEANS: A win here would echo through the entire state that Rocky Mount Academy is a serious state championship contender – even more so than the Eagles already are.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: As fundamental as it sounds, tackling will be the key tonight. Everything the Eagles have done through the past five games is in the past, and one missed tackle could be the difference.
PREGAME CHATTER: Wilson Fike is proof that things change in the Big East Conference. Just a year removed from a 3-7 record and three years from finishing 2-9, the Golden Demons are undefeated and have their sights on the league’s regular-season crown. Nash Central continues through a groundhoggish season in which the Bulldogs have not found ways to score. Last week’s 10-3 defeat at Rocky Mount High showed that Nash Central is formidable but perhaps not equipped enough to complete a full game and earn a victory in a talented Big East Conference.
WHAT IT MEANS: Nash Central will play spoiler for the remainder of the season. Is this the night the Bulldogs pull through?
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Wilson Fike quarterback D.J. Daniels. The 6-foot-2, 185 pound sophomore is a game-changer who makes plays with his legs and arm, and there is no doubt, he soon will be on the radar of Division I coaches.
PREGAME CHATTER: The Warriors walk into the unknown tonight against Riverside-Martin. This is the first meeting between the two squads as conference opponents. North Edgecombe has won three straight games and seems to be finding its rhythm. Riverside-Martin has some lopsided, nonconference losses on its record, but it opened Two Rivers action last week by scoring 50 points on Northampton County.
WHAT IT MEANS: North Edgecombe has the talent to be one of the top two squads in the conference, but it has to take care of business in games like the one tonight.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: The Warriors’ defense. North Edgecombe has averaged 40 points in its past three games, but coach Keith Parisher still is in search of his defense reaching its potential. That starts by the Warriors playing their assignments and tackling well.
PREGAME CHATTER: The schedule is allowing SouthWest Edgecombe to quickly find out where it stands in the Eastern Plains Conference. The Cougars defeated conference favorite North Pitt, 36-22, last week. Tonight, coach Jonathan Cobb’s squad will face another of the league’s better teams in Washington. The Pam Pack has a win against Tarboro in its 2013 resume, and the team seems to have few weaknesses on either side of the ball.
WHAT IT MEANS: SouthWest Edgecombe can put itself in a solid, early position to finish as one of the top teams in the EPC if it can pull out a Homecoming victory.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: The SouthWest Edgecombe offensive line. Cobb said the unit played their best game last week, and if they can open up big-play possibilities for the team’s running backs, breakaway plays can occur.
- Jessie H. Nunery & Justin Hite