10/17/13 — Tigers, Leopards duel for 1st place in Carolina 1A football race

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Tigers, Leopards duel for 1st place in Carolina 1A football race

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on October 17, 2013 1:48 PM


WARSAW -- It all comes down to this.

Well, sort of.

When James Kenan and Lakewood meet at Bill Taylor Field on Friday evening, the Carolina 1-A Conference championship will not officially be on the line. After all, both teams will still have two league games to play.

The winner will not capture the title mathematically, but will certainly be in the driver's seat the rest of the season.

"Our guys know how big the game (against Lakewood) is if we want to win a conference championship," James Kenan head coach Ken Avent Jr. said. "There is a lot of football left to be played, but right now we are both 3-0 in the league and the winner on Friday is going to have a clear advantage."

Each team has seen this scenario play out before. As former members of the Tri-County 1-A Conference, the Tigers and Leopards have played multiple games with league title implications.

One year ago, James Kenan defeated Lakewood 26-0 and went on to win the TCC crown. The Tigers have won the past 10 meetings in the series and Avent Jr. has never lost to the Leopards as a head coach.

"Every team is different and every season is different," Avent Jr. said. "We know Lakewood is going to have athletes and they are going to be well coached. It is going to take our best game to beat them on Friday."

One thing that should bolster the Tigers' chances is the return of tailback Marcelias Sutton. The N.C. State commit saw limited action in last week's win over North Duplin and appeared to be full speed after a deep thigh bruise kept him on the sidelines for the better part of two games.

Sutton's speed is a perfect compliment to fullback Al Owens hard-running style. The duo combined for 136 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries against the Rebels.

"Marcelias looked quick laterally and he looked like he was able to accelerate normally," Avent Jr. said. "Having him back is big because it takes some pressure off our other guys in the backfield and allows us to spread the carries around."

James Kenan averages 37.2 points per game on offense and allows 11.3 points defensively. Lakewood scores 30.6 points a game and surrenders around 15 points a game.