11/11/04 — Prep football -- Area playoff match-ups

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Prep football -- Area playoff match-ups

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on November 11, 2004 1:55 PM

Class 3-AA

No. 13 Eastern Wayne at No. 4 Eastern Randolph

The opponent: The Warriors make a long drive to face a Wildcat team that played in the 3-A state title game just last year. Eastern Randolph, which finished second in the Tri-County Conference after losses to Durham Jordan and High Point Central, is the top-seeded second-place team in the state for this year's playoffs. The Wildcats feature a balanced attack led by R.J. Lassiter, who has been nursing an injury. Sophomore quarterback Scott Riddle has a lot of beef to hide behind -- linemen like Isaac Spencer (264 pounds), Cory Dowless (291), Zeb Todd (308) and Jason Headen (406). Riddle throws to a deep receiver corps, led by Omar Butler, Recardo Garner and Zach Strickland. Senior linebacker Val Moser anchors the defense, along with Lassiter. The Wildcats' biggest compliment is the company they keep -- most compare them favorably with Jamestown Ragsdale and High Point Central. Coach Burton Cates has been around Eastern Randolph for 19 years.

The game plan: Play the West Craven game tape and coach Jeff Price will know what he has to do. A huge size differential will make it tough for his team to slow down the Wildcats, but that's exactly what they must do to keep the game score low and manageable. With the run game slowed by Al Graham's injury, quarterbacks Zach Williams and Tyler Ham have to be quick and accurate, getting quick short gainers to receivers like Riley Wilkins, Clint Rouse and Chris Campbell. Grounding the Eastern Randolph offense is the key.

Class 2-A

No. 14 Greene Central at No. 3 Southwest Onslow

The opponent: The Stallions are the defending N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2-A (small-school) champions. That says it all. Southwest's only loss of the year came at the hands of cross-town rival Jacksonville, a double-overtime 16-10 defeat. Since then, the Stallions have won seven straight games and swept to the East Central Conference championship. The versatile Kendric Burney runs the offense, passing for 459 yards and running for 420 yards with eight touchdowns. T.Q. Hardison is the leading rusher with 970 yards and 16 touchdowns -- he averages eight yards a carry. LaMark Williams (695 yards, six touchdowns) is another regular ball carrier. The defense is strong and stingy, allowing just over seven points a game. D'Andre Baxter is a Shrine Bowl selection at 6-foot-3 and 275 pounds, and he plays with defensive specialist Gary Middlebrooks (6-1, 183), who was the most valuable player of the 2003 state championship game. The biggest threat the Stallions pose is speed -- all over the field. Hardison and Burney are in the secondary, and are tough to throw against.

The game plan: Greene Central is a throwing team, but is going to need a lot of heady play from quarterback Travis Rouse. He has to know when to pull the ball down and run against the Stallion defense. With the experienced secondary, unorthodox plays may be all over the playbook to counter Southwest's obvious personnel advantage. The defense may need to stack the line of scrimmage and force Burney to make throws, playing into a Rams strength. Turnovers against a team this capable is equal to suicide, so a perfect game on execution is absolutely necessary.

Class 2-AA

No. 13 Randleman at No. 4 North Lenoir

The opponent: The Tigers (6-5) finished third in the Mid-State 2-A conference after a 16-13 loss to High Point Andrews, but have enjoyed their first winning season since 1998 and the school's first playoff appearance since 1997. Coach Eddie Williamson was lured over to Randleman this past season after spending many years as the head football coach at East Davidson. Quarterback Lee Covington won a quarterback battle with Jared Poe early in the season, with Poe now at tight end. Charlie Bailey is the top back, taking the job from Asheboro transfer Dion McNair after McNair was injured three games into the season. Receivers include Robbie Austin and Brandon Knox. The lines on both sides of the ball are reliable, anchored by Dustin Lamb and Jacob Queen.

The game plan: The Hawks like to run, and need to establish themselves early on offense to put doubts into the heads of the Randleman players. Offensively, the Rams do not do anything fancy and have no real big-play threat, so a conventional attacking scheme should give the visitors a lot to handle. Antonio Hamilton and E.J. Brown need to set the tone early on, with Andrew Manning giving enough notion of his capability to throw that Randleman is wary to stack the line. The fumble problems North Lenoir had in the last few games need to be gone, since turnovers in the playoffs is tantamount to suicide.

Class 1-A

No. 12 Lejeune at No. 5 Rosewood

The opponent: The Devilpups (4-6) were fourth in the Coastal Plains Conference. Lejeune does not dazzle -- the Pups scored 234 points total this season while giving up a stingy 214. The best overall player is senior Joseph Harris, a receiver that plays some tight end with 12 catches, 264 yards in receiving and six touchdowns. The leading rusher is Brandon Herd with 1,426 yards and 10 touchdowns. Quarterback Scott Mahaffey has a two top targets in passing -- Antwan Mullins has 14 catches for 152 yards and two touchdowns, and he has returned two kicks for scores. Justin Gordan has 12 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown. Coach Tom Childs is in his seventh season.

The game plan: The Eagles will have to push their backs through the holes quickly to negate the Devilpups' six-man front defensive scheme. Rosewood has a capable offense, sound on the ground and devastating through the air, so expect Danny Langston to find favorite receiver Dustin Overman frequently if the play is there. Defensively, everybody is as healthy as they have been at any point in the season, and putting up some stifling numbers could spell trouble for future opponents. The Eagles have had to score enough to beat people; the only thing they have to prove is that the defense can get a stop consistently. One big factor in Rosewood's favor is chemistry -- the Eagles have been playing together since middle school. Lejeune is a Department of Defense school where military-family students rotate in and out frequently.

Class 1-A

No. 12 North Duplin at No. 5 East Wilkes

The opponent: The Cardinals are a turnaround story under second year coach Monty Chipman. After going 2-9 two seasons ago, Chipman was promoted from assistant coach and took East Wilkes to a 4-7 mark last season, then the school's best finish in 15 years at 8-3 this season. East Wilkes won its last five games to finish in fourth place in the Northwest Conference. While the secondary is suspect, the heart of the team is a bend-but-don't-break defense spearheaded by senior linebackers Robbie Mundy and Ryan Hayes and defensive end James Roberts. On offense, senior Ricky Harris has over 2,300 yards rushing -- third-best in the state. Mundy, also the quarterback, has over 900 yards in completions.

The game plan: The Rebels have to get the passing game cranked up, which is where quarterback Brad Lloyd can operate well and mix in the option. The versatile signal-caller can loosen up the Cardinal front seven with timely passes, breaking the North Duplin run game free. Obviously, the defense has a great chore in stopping Harris, but the Rebel defense has to stay awake and not think East Wilkes is a one-card offensive hand.

Class 1-AA

No. 13 Williamston at No. 4 James Kenan

The opponent: Williamston ended the season at 4-7 and claimed the sixth-place spot in the seven-team Four Rivers Conference. After winning three straight to open the year, the Tigers lost seven of their last eight games. Sophomore quarterback Matt Howell throws for more than 200 yards a game, and his usual targets are Eric Goss and Javion Andrews. Williamston is coached by former assistant coach Hank Tice.

The game plan: Kenan has to first get over the embarrassing loss to Wallace-Rose Hill last week. With that dispatched, coach Kevin Motsinger's team will know what to expect -- a game plan much like that of long-time Williamston coach Harold Robinson. Tice -- and Greene Central's Jim Bob Bryant -- were asistants under Robinson and keep their coaching models much as he did, so Kenan can expect a throwing opponent that will be tough up front. Look for the defense, with three shutouts on the season already, to patch its wounded pride against a Williamston squad that should be powerless to stop it. Kenan's offense is big and fast, and has been chewing up teams as long as it doesn't wear black and orange uniforms and know where Teachey is. The goal is survive and advance -- and Kenan knows that goal to the last man.

Class 1-AA

No. 10 North Johnston at No. 7 Northampton-East

The opponent: The Rams (6-5) were the Tar-Roanoke Conference co-champions with Weldon. Spring Creek fans will remember Melvin Rogers, the 347-pound lineman that figures extensively in the Rams running game. Rogers -- whom Panthers coach Ken Avent termed "a monster" -- cleared the field of defenders in Northampton-East's 30-9 win over Spring Creek on Oct. 28. That win was one of four straight the Rams have reeled off. The Rams run a lot of pro-I offense right behind Rogers, mixing in some sweep and option. Adam Shoulars and Aaron Mitchell are also strong linemen for Northampton-East.

The game plan: The Panthers cannot afford to become bowling pins in front of this beefy, massive line. The defense has to shoot gaps, find holes and come up with ways to take these linemen on without going head-on at them. North Johnston knows a little about running the ball, led by Adrian Briscoe, but it is essential that turnovers are done away with. Northampton-East does a good job defending the pass, so the game should become one of drive after drive, with very little happening through the air.

Class 1-AA

No. 16 Spring Creek at No. 1 North Brunswick

The opponent: North Brunswick (9-1) is the top-seeded 1-AA team in the east. The Coastal Plains Conference champions were beaten only by Jacksonville Northside 14-8 in the third game of the year. In the last six games, the Scorpions have scored 343 points -- the fewest being 49 in one game. In that same six-game span, North Brunswick has given up only 66 points. Leading rusher Antwan Campbell, a senior, has over 1,200 yards and 18 touchdowns. Quarterback Brandon Savoca has 1,145 yards through the air with 20 touchdown strikes. Defensively, sophomore defensive tackle Darryl Rattley has 86 tackles, while junior defensive end Anthony Bryant has 84 and senior linebacker Wayne Robbins has 77.

The game plan: Spring Creek has certainly had playoff experience against a top seed after playing Wallace-Rose Hill two of the past three seasons. Defense has to come to the fore, a huge task considering the size advantage North Brunswick will enjoy. The Scorpions have a daunting offense capable either through the air or on the ground, so Spring Creek needs to get North Brunswick throwing to get Lelo Burt in the game as a secondary player. Burt has big-play ability, and the special teams will need to come through for the Gators to stay around in this one.,