11/09/10 — Southern Wayne playoff preview

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Southern Wayne playoff preview

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on November 9, 2010 1:47 PM

Bob Warren has been around the block a few times as the head football coach at Southern Wayne. He knows exactly what to expect when the Saints' bus crosses the Hertford County line this week.

"I think our guys understand what caliber team Hertford County is," said Warren. "We saw them in a preseason scrimmage and we are aware of their athleticism."

Coming off two impressive victories over county rivals Eastern Wayne and C.B. Aycock, the Saints (5-6 overall) are riding a wave of momentum into their showdown in the opening round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A eastern playoffs on Friday evening.

With their season teetering on the brink of disaster, the Saints put their 3-6 record in the rearview mirror and hammered the Warriors 48-35 at home and went on the road for a 49-18 thrashing of the Golden Falcons.

"I think we have shown that when we play our game and we execute, we can play with anybody," said Warren. "We have had some games where we did what we wanted and we won those games. On the other hand, we had some bad games where we got beat badly by not executing."

Looking ahead to Friday's affair, the Saints need to look no further than the quarterback position.

Hertford County (8-3) will attack the Saints' defense with a triple-option offense led by signal caller Petey Boone. In the Bears' last game of the regular season, a 56-19 win over Bertie, Boone ignited the offense with a 42-yard rushing touchdown in the opening minutes.

Junior running back Aaron Thomas added a pair of rushing touchdowns in the victory. Hertford County rushed for 319 yards against their archrival and finished with 373 total yards.

"Their quarterback really makes their offense go with his ability to throw as well as run," said Warren. "They like to spread defenses out and work into the gaps that they create."

When the Saints have the ball, it will be critical to avoid third-and-long situations in order to sustain drives and manage the clock. The three-headed running back group -- JaQuan Cobb, Quintae Bradshaw and Andrew Matthews -- have combined to rush for 2,173 yards and 22 touchdowns this season.

If there is one flaw in the Hertford County juggernaut, it's in the run defense. Bertie rushed for 343 yards against the Bears and had two backs eclipse the 100-yard mark.

"This time of year we have to stick to our strengths and that is running the ball and sustaining drives," said Warren. "We will need to protect the ball and get points every time we have the opportunity."

Southern Wayne and Hertford County met in the opening round of the playoffs in 2006, a game won by the Bears 42-0.

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.