Friday Forecast - Football officially here
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on August 25, 2006 2:37 PM
Last week officially kicked off the 2006 high school football season, but it just didn't quite feel like the regular season -- yet.
Perhaps it was the lack of a legitimate rivalry game in the area. Perhaps it was the fact that the athletes and coaches weren't even in school yet.
Or maybe it was that term -- "endowment" -- that the N.C. High School Athletic Association puts on these games.
In the press box at Goldsboro, I felt like I was wedged somewhere in the middle of a scrimmage and non-conference play ... wherever that is.
Regardless, those games indeed counted and several area teams came out of the first week with impressive showings.
Charles B. Aycock, Rosewood and Southern Wayne combined for 143 points in their season openers and all looked to be in midseason form -- especially on the offensive side of the ball as two teams had a 200-plus yard rusher.
James Kenan took down county rival and Class 2-A stalwart East Duplin 22-7 in Ken Avent Jr.'s first game at the helm. The Panthers had outscored the Tigers by a combined score of 157-13 in the previous five seasons. Now, that's revenge.
Greene Central looked primed to defend its Eastern Plains 2-A Conference crown in a 30-6 rout over D.H. Conley.
Week one wasn't as kind to Goldsboro, Spring Creek and Princeton. But in all fairness, all three were going up against opponents from larger schools. When the playing field evens over the coming weeks, I expect all three to be much more competitive.
As the season progresses and the humid conditions change to "football weather," I'm sure I will get more and more into the groove of the gridiron. I've got a real good feeling I'll pick up some football fever this weekend when I head home for my 10th year high school reunion (that looks even harder to believe on paper).
Part of the festivities include taking in Friday night's matchup between my alma mater, Crest, and one of our county rivals, Burns. Y'all don't need a preview of that clash, but it should be a good one.
But before I go west, here's the first installment of my Friday night forecast for the area.
Rivalry of the Week -- Eastern Wayne (0-0) at Goldsboro (0-1)
One of the two teams has been held to 13 points or less in each of the last five meetings, but I think both offenses should be able to do produce in this one. Both quarterbacks are nimble -- Eastern Wayne's David White and Goldsboro's Tim Kornegay -- and both have backs that are capable of breaking the big one. Get ready for the biggest cliché in football ... this one will be won in the trenches.
My pick -- Cougars in a nail-biter on their home field.
Carolina at Super Six of the Week -- Spring Creek (0-1) at Hobbton (0-1)
There's at least one matchup between teams in these two venerable conferences during all seven weeks of non-conference play. It makes sense as all the schools are fairly close in proximity and size ... they ought to combine and form a mega-conference. Both teams put up just one touchdown against bigger, 2-A schools last Friday, but the Gators speed will be tough for the Wildcats to match.
My pick -- Gators by a touchdown.
All-States of the Week -- Wallace-Rose Hill (0-0) at Southern Wayne (1-0)
Both teams feature a performer on the ncpreps.com preseason all-state team in their respective classification ... the 1-A Bulldogs have quarterback Andrew Bowden, while the 3-A Saints have running back Anthony Council. The two players combined for over 40 touchdowns in 2005, so I'd say they are worth the hype. Wallace is untested this year and on the road, but it's hard to pick against a team that doesn't ever seem to lose until they get to the state championship.
My pick -- Bulldogs by a couple of scores.
Former Cohorts of the Week -- Clayton (0-1) at C.B. Aycock (1-0)
Aycock's Randy Pinkowski has yet to beat Clayton's Gary Fowler, who he used to coach under, in three meetings. The Comets (one of the best mascot names in the east) are coming off a disappointing loss to Raleigh Sanderson where they lost a late lead. The Golden Falcons throttled West Carteret again on the coast heading into the matchup with Clayton, which beat Aycock 42-14 last year.
My pick -- It shouldn't be by 28, but the 4-A Comets will win.
Season Opener of the Week -- Chatham Central (0-1) at North Duplin (0-0)
With 23 players back that started in some capacity last year, there's no reason to believe the Rebels can't avenge a tough, 12-6 loss to the Bears in their 2005 opener. Out of the Yadkin Valley 1-A Conference, Chatham Central lost 24-14 in their endowment game last week. If North Duplin's Brad Lloyd is firing on all cylinders and the defense digs in to stop Chatham's multiple-I, Hugh Martin will be a winner in his first game at the helm for the Rebels.
My pick -- Rebels by 12.
Rest of the Week
Rosewood (1-0) at Chocowinity Southside (0-0)
Rosewood's Devon Bennett racked up a ton of yards against Mattamuskeet in the opener, but suffered a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter. He appears to be fine, according to coach Daniel Barrow, heading into the contest at perennial eastern power, Southside. The Seahawks aren't as experienced this year, but they'll still be tough at home.
My pick -- Seahawks.
Princeton (0-1) at North Moore (0-0)
The Bulldogs are still battling and searching for that elusive win, and this Friday will be a good chance to break one of the state's longest losing streaks. The 2005 meeting was one of Princeton's closest games -- a 21-9 loss to the Mustangs. Both teams have about the same amount of returning players and feature the similar offensive (I-formation) and defensive (4-4) packages.
My pick -- Bulldogs (this is the week).
Jacksonville Northside (1-0) at James Kenan (1-0)
Both teams had impressive showings in week one against larger schools as the Monarchs pounded 3-A White Oak, 42-0, while the Tigers toppled 2-A East Duplin, 22-7. Kenan passed its first tough test under new coach Ken Avent Jr., and there is no reason to believe they can't rise to another one -- especially at home.
My pick -- Tigers.
Wilson Beddingfield (1-0) at Greene Central (1-0)
Both teams were impressive in their openers, but this will be a much tougher test for a pair of squads picked to finish at or near the top of their respective leagues. The Bruins and Rams both feature diverse offensive attacks, so the defense that can get a few stops will come out unbeaten.
My pick -- Bruins.
North Lenoir (0-0) at East Duplin (0-1)
The Hawks should be rested and ready to go after an off week, but they will catch a tough Panther team looking to bounce back after a rare, season-opening loss to James Kenan. North Lenoir has to control the clock and limit their mistakes to keep this one close in Beulaville.
My pick -- Panthers.
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