League play opens for six of the seven football programs in the Mideastern Conference on Friday night, while New Hanover looks to end a two-game skid with a road trip to Purnell Swett.
The latest of edition of Sports Round Table highlights the Ashley Screaming Eagles’ first win since 2013, a 26-24 victory over Westover. The weekly show, which airs at 8 p.m. on the Learning Network, also features interviews with the four head coaches across New Hanover County. Sports Round Table can be seen on Time Warner Cable Channel 5 and Charter Cable Channel 191.
This week’s Throwback Sunday showcase features the cross-town rivalry game between New Hanover and Laney in 2004. Throwback Sundays airs at 7 p.m. on Time Warner Cable Channel 5 and Charter Cable Channel 191.
Ashley (1-3) at West Brunswick (3-2)
Ashley quarterback Caleb Parker scored a couple of touchdowns from the goal line, including the game-winner late in the fourth quarter to give the Screaming Eagles their first win at home in nearly two years. Jacob Reed and Bradley Plyler have provided first-year coach Jeff Turner options in the ground game behind an offensive front that continues to develop a good push inside the trenches.
Qadhafi Turner has been steady in the secondary, while Russell Corbett and sophomore defensive end Joseph Barbera remain consistent in clogging up running holes.
West Brunswick enters league play following an impressive 34-7 victory at North Brunswick. The Trojans won the turnover battle and used three touchdowns from Shikeem Hill to snap a brief two-game skid.
Hill and Bubba McCray have big play potential on the ground. Hunter Ashburn also gives the Trojans a threat through the air, with DaQuan Burgess and Quinlyn Moore serving as the team’s top two receivers.
Topsail (3-2) at Laney (1-4)
Topsail and Laney both look to get back in the win column after setbacks the week prior as the Bucs return home for the first time in nearly one month.
Laney needs to get off to a fast start after going down 21-0 to East Bladen last week, while the defensive needs to do a better job getting off the field on third down, according to Bucs’ Coach Aashad Yeoman. East Bladen ran 48 offensive plays in the first half, but Laney responded after the break and pulled to within seven before stalling out in the fourth quarter.
Trevon Greene continues to make strides at quarterback, while Imeek Watkins and Jamius Beckett give the Bucs a healthy one-two punch in the backfield. Laney is averaging 150 yard rushing per game thanks. Watkins has over 100 carries on the season for 310 yards and four touchdowns. Beckett has over 150 yards on the ground on just seven carries.
Justin Billingslea and Ryan Williams are the team’s leading receivers, with five combined touchdown receptions.
Topsail had a tough time stopping the run against Jacksonville last week and has lost two straight. The Pirates continue to go to the ground behind D.J. Montano, who’s averaging 7.1 yards per carry. The freshman has eight touchdowns on the year, while classmates Drew Gaither, Grant McCoy and Justin Smith have shared the workload behind Montano.
South Brunswick (2-3) @ Hoggard (2-3)
While Friday’s 24-21 win over Clinton was not a must-win situation for Hoggard, Coach Craig Underwood said the Vikings needed the result after dropping three straight.
Tony Allen is a hard-running back and accounted for two scores against the Dark Horses, while Rashad Wallace completes a duel-threat with big play ability after finishing a 57-yard touchdown run. The junior tandem has combined for over 774 yards on the ground, with five trips to the end zone.
Bryant Sasser has started to work the passing game, while Mathew Eakins has a team-high 10 receptions. Fullback Tristan Kandare can also be a valuable asset in the flats and Evan Allegret has become a possession receiver along with Keon Bradley, Patrick Morrison and Hunter Louthan.
Will Dykes is coming off a big defensive game for the Vikings and Will Kandare has a team-high 28 tackles.
South Brunswick will have their work cut out for them at Scott Braswell Stadium on Friday, but the Cougars are a much improved program behind second-year coach Daniel Finn. Josh Carter provides big play ability in the running game and Robert Watkins has potential to make an impact through the air at quarterback.
New Hanover (2-2) @ Purnell Swett (1-4)
After dominating their first two opponents, New Hanover has gone up against Havelock and Scotland County, a pair of perennial favorites to represent the East Regional in this year’s state championship for their respective 3A-4A classifications.
Coach Earl Smith was proud of the way his guys continued to fight after going down to the Scots early in the last week’s game, ultimately falling 48-28 at Legion Stadium.
New Hanover has made some adjustments on the offensive side of the ball, inserting University of Georgia commit Garrett Walston in the short yardage Wildcat package as Walston punched in a one-yard score last week. Burke Estes continues to run a solid unit, with a plethora of talent at the skill positions including, Freddie Taylor, Tre Age and Wiz Vaughn.
The Wildcats struggles have come on defense, but Smith has been impressed with the development of sophomore Nas Brown at middle linebacker and senior safety Ronnie Beatty.
Look for New Hanover to get back on track this week against a Purnell Swett team that has been outscored 155-55 through five games this season.