10/04/13 — New Bern, Eastern Wayne renew football series

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New Bern, Eastern Wayne renew football series

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on October 4, 2013 1:48 PM

A defending state champion. A team with Division I prospects at numerous positions.

A measuring stick for Eastern Wayne.

All of those adjectives describe New Bern, the reigning N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 4-A (small-school) state champion -- and Eastern Wayne's opponent tonight.

The Warriors are 5-0 for the first time in program history and should have a better sense of where they are as a team after their game with the Bears.

The teams haven't met since 1992 when they were members of the Mideastern Conference. New Bern has won 12 straight in the series and 13 of 17 overall against Eastern Wayne. The Bears, according to Maxpreps.com, have won 16 straight road games since 2010.

Talented tailback Cody Purdie leads New Bern's ground attack. The East Carolina recruit has rushed for 640 yards and five touchdowns this season. Quarterback Mike Hughes, a heavily recruited junior, has accounted for 1,236 yards of total offense and 19 TDs.

"They've got athletes all over the field," Eastern Wayne head coach Bubba Williams said. "I think their offensive line has had some time to gel since the start of the season. Their quarterback can make plays with his legs and his feet. You have to be careful how you contain him."

New Bern averages 36 points a game. It set single-game school records for total points scored (72) and points in a quarter (42) in last week's victory over Charles B. Aycock. The Bears have reeled off four consecutive wins since back-to-back losses to state-ranked Durham Hillside and perennial 3-A power Havelock.

In those two losses, New Bern allowed an average of 367 yards of offense and 29 points, and committed seven turnovers. In the midst of winning four consecutive games, the Bears have held their opponents to an average of seven points.

Offensive balance has been a key ingredient to the Warriors' phenomenal start.

Eastern Wayne averages 203 yards on the ground per game and another 150 through the air. Quarterback Mitch Pike has thrown just one interception and the Warriors are averaging 38 points a game. Continuing those trends against a stingy New Bern defense and keeping the Bears' offense on the sidelines is critical for Eastern Wayne.

"We know we're going to have to throw the ball," Williams said. "They're going to load up the box to try to take away the run. At the same time, we're not going to change who we are and hopefully we're able to run the football.

"We're going to try to throw it some and what happens, happens."