Week seven of the high school football season will kick off tonight as athletics directors and coaches make scheduling changes due to concerns stemming from Hurricane Joaquin churning off the Atlantic coast. The North Brunswick versus Ashley game has moved to tonight at 7 p.m. in Leland, marking the second time the Screaming Eagles will have played over the course of four days. As of now, all other games in the area are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start on Friday.
If the games do get in tomorrow, it’ll also be a quick turnaround for a handful of teams across the Mideastern Conference, who also played earlier this week because of weather postponements.
Wednesday’s edition of Sports Round Table featured interviews with the four coaches from Ashley, Hoggard, Laney and New Hanover, with game highlights and previews leading up to the action.
Sports Round Table, which airs at 8 p.m. on the Learning Network, can be seen on Time Warner Cable Channel 5 and Charter Cable Channel 191. For the latest broadcast scroll down to the end of this story.
This week’s Throwback Sunday showcase features the cross-town rivalry game between New Hanover and Ashley in 2004. Throwback Sundays airs at 7 p.m. on Time Warner Cable Channel 5 and Charter Cable Channel 191.
Laney (1-0, 2-4) @ South Brunswick (0-1, 2-4)
Laney chewed up nearly 200 yards on the ground Monday night in a game marred by a melee that took place midway through the third quarter. The Bucs posted a 31-0 shutout over Topsail to move to 1-0 in conference.
Imeek Watkins rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns, while the Laney defense stood strong in eliminating big plays in the run game. Watkins has over 130 carries on the season for 455 yards and six touchdowns. Jamius Beckett is also a viable back for the Bucs, with five trips to the end zone and nearly 300 yards on the ground through six games.
South Brunswick has struggled since opening the season 2-1, with teams keying on sophomore running back Josh Carter. The Cougars have been outscored 133-23 during their current skid and started freshman quarterback Mason Phillips under center in Friday’s 52-7 setback at Hoggard.
Raymond Bowens and Michael Endicott are gaining traction at the receiver position, while Hunter Hemphill provides South Brunswick a steady leg in the kicking game.
North Brunswick (2-2) @ Ashley (0-1, 1-4)
It was going to be a special night in Leland on Thursday as North Brunswick High School planned to celebrate longtime coach Garry Bishop by naming the football and track complex in his honor, but school officials pushed the ceremony back to a later date because of the scheduling change. Bishop led the Scorpions for nearly three decades before announcing his retirement at the end of last season.
First-year coach Larry Brock has North Brunswick at 2-2 heading into their final non-conference game coming off their second bye week this season. The Scorpions took one on the chin, 34-7, against West Brunswick on September 18.
Tiger Bryant has big play ability at quarterback, while Jayhlen Washington, Shaq Graham and Latrell Hill round out a talented bunch at the skill positions.
Ashley struggled to move the football on Monday in a 25-0 setback in Shallotte and come into tonight’s contest with just one full day of practice after Coach Jeff Turner went through a light workout on Tuesday following the game at West Brunswick.
Turnovers plagued Ashley on the offensive end against West Brunswick, while the defense held strong until later in the game after spending a ton of time on the field because of the team’s inability to move the football.
Topsail (0-1, 3-3) vs. West Brunswick (1-0, 4-2)
West Brunswick has won back-to-back games in dominating fashion to move to 4-2 overall, but first-year coach Kelley Williamson spoke to the consistency of his team during preseason practices.
Hunter Ashburn accounted for two scores during Monday’s 25-0 win over Ashley, while Quinlyn Moore finished with a touchdown reception and two interceptions, one of which was returned 85 yards into the end zone to seal the Trojans result.
Bubba McCray, Shikeem Hill and Maliek King provided Williamson with a bevy of options in the run game and the West Brunswick defense continues to win the turnover battle after dropping a 26-22 game at Whiteville on September 11.
After opening the season 3-0, the Topsail Pirates have dropped three straight games to fall back to the .500 mark.
A bright spot during the Pirates’ win streak was the ability to run the football at will, but Topsail was held to just 160 yards of total offense in Monday’s loss to Laney. Freshman D.J. Montano made up a majority of the Pirates’ ground game, with 88 yards rushing on 22 carries.
New Hanover (0-0, 3-2) vs. Hoggard (1-0, 3-3)
The highly anticipated matchup between New Hanover and Hoggard returns to Legion Stadium this season as both teams try to get ahead in the division standings. Hoggard is coming off a dominating performance over South Brunswick, while the Wildcats snapped a brief two-game skid with a 30-20 victory at Purnell Swett.
Tony Allen and Rashad Wallace saw a healthy workload through the first half on Friday, while Bryant Sasser completed 5-of-7 pass attempts for 108 yards and one score. Through six games this season, Sasser has a 53 percent completion percentage and over 500 yards passing.
Allen and Wallace are a viable one-two punch in the backfield, having combined for nearly 1,000 yards rushing. Allen seems to be the go to guy in shortage situations, with seven touchdowns, while Wallace has big play ability.
Tristan Kandare has also become one of Sasser’s top receivers out of the backfield. The senior fullback has 10 receptions for 88 yards this season. 10 different players have at least one catch through six games as Collin Hair, Hunter Louthan and Mathew Eakins give the Vikings options in the passing game.
Will Dykes, William Kandare and Omar Jones have also started to get comfortable on the defensive side of the ball. Kandare and Jones each have four sacks, while Dykes has seven tackles for loss.
After going up against two of the top teams in the eastern part of the state, New Hanover got back in the win column on Monday. The Wildcats returned to their dominating form on the offensive end, with Burke Estes finding his skill position players, including Freddie Taylor, Wiz Vaughn and Tre Age.
New Hanover jumped out to a three-score lead early in the game and held off a second have surge to grab victory for the first time in one month. Vaughn had two big plays for touchdowns and Taylor made a 28 yard trip to the end zone.
While the Wildcats’ offense is filled with familiarity, with 10 starters returning this season, the defense has seen its fair share of struggles during the last few weeks due to youth and inexperience.
The matchup to watch for on Friday night is whether the Hoggard offense can remain consistent by moving the chains and finishing drives with touchdowns against a New Hanover defense that allowed 90 total points in their two losses this season.