With two weeks to go in the regular season, three high school football teams across the area will honor their seniors, who are set to play in their final home game on Friday night.
A new edition of Sports Round Table aired at 8 p.m. on Wednesday on the Learning Network as Joe Catenacci caught up with the four coaches across New Hanover County along with Laney seniors John Speight and Jaquevon Rogers. The New Hanover County Schools TV-produced show 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.
Looking ahead to Friday’s matchups, Laney is coming off their bye week and faces West Brunswick in only their third home game this season. New Hanover looks to build off their record-setting offensive performance at home against Topsail. Ashley first-year Coach Jeff Turner returns to the sidelines at Scott Braswell Stadium as the Screaming Eagles take on Hoggard. North Brunswick also plays a key conference game at home against Jacksonville-Northside.
Ashley (2-2, 3-6) at Hoggard (3-1, 5-4)
Friday night will mark a special occasion for Turner as the former longtime defensive coordinator for Hoggard returns to Shipyard Boulevard for the first time as head coach of the Screaming Eagles.
While Ashley has shown a ton of improvement from one season ago, the Screaming Eagles will have their hands full against a Vikings team that has put up a combined 75 points over its last two victories.
Bryant Sasser and Josh Jones have both split time at quarterback for Coach Craig Underwood this season. Sasser threw a touchdown pass in last week’s win over West Brunswick, while Jones has completed 60 percent of his passes, with eight combined touchdowns.
Rashad Wallace and Tony Allen continue to churn up yards on the ground for Hoggard, with a combined 1,385 yards. Wallace has three 100-plus yard games and Allen has 10 touchdowns.
Collin Hairr is the team’s leading receiver. The junior has 15 catches for 263 yards. The Vikings have five players with 10 or more receptions, including Hunter Louthan (17), Tristan Kandare (11), Mathew Eakins (13) and Evan Allegret (12).
The Vikings have more than two dozen seniors on their roster and will honor those players during their final home game. Defensive players Omar Jones, William Kandare, Will Dykes, Brandon Ray, Carson Whitaker are just a few, along with fullback Tristan Kandare, center Kris Sciales and kicker Caleb Kuhne.
Ashley was shut out last week, but trailed New Hanover 7-0 at halftime before the Wildcats broke things open in the second half. The Screaming Eagles have been facing a handful of injuries at key positions as quarterback Caleb Parker looks to get the offense moving at a more consistent basis to help a defense that has kept Ashley in most of their games this season.
Sophomore Joseph Barbera has emerged as a top run stuffer in the county at defensive tackle, while senior D.C. Russ continues to cause havoc at defensive end.
New Hanover (4-0, 7-2) vs. Topsail (2-2, 5-4)
Coming off a record-breaking performance by quarterback Burke Estes last week, New Hanover will honor the senior along with nearly two dozen others who will play in their final regular season home game on Friday night.
While the Wildcats are poised to earn a home game for at least the first round of the upcoming state playoffs, some of those to be honored include: Ronnie Beatty (safety), Garrett Walston (tight end), Josiah Eason (kicker), in addition to offensive linemen, Trequan Wesley, Tyreke Speller and Sonne Gus.
Estes had 407 yards passing to break a school record set by Ward Coleman in the 34-0 shutout against Ashley. Junior wide out Lamont Howard had a game to remember last Friday, with 9 catches for a total of 208 yards and 3 touchdowns. Walston also had over 100 yards receiving, while Keegan Santos continues to get a bulk load of carries since returning from injury a few weeks back.
Beatty has interceptions in consecutive games and Nigel Hines continues to show improvement at the middle linebacker position.
New Hanover has outscored its opponents 173-61 during its current five game winning streak.
Topsail enters Friday’s contest at Legion Stadium following a 52-25 win over South Brunswick. The Pirates have been overmatched against most of their 4A opponents this season, but bring some talented players to the field each week as N.C. State commit Joseph Sculthorpe continues to guide the offensive line as a North Carolina-South Carolina Shrine Bowl selectee. Freshman D.J. Montano will also be a name to keep an eye on as the years progress. Montano has nearly 1,000 yards rushing on the year, with five 100-plus yard games and nine touchdowns. Senior Drew Gaither is the short yardage back with seven trips to the end zone and 490 rushing yards.
Laney (2-2, 3-6) vs. West Brunswick (2-3, 5-5)
Laney is coming off their bye and looking to snap a two-game skid after playing New Hanover and Hoggard in consecutive weeks. The Bucs go up against a West Brunswick team that has struggled over the last month, having dropped three of their last four games.
17 seniors will be honored during Friday’s contest as Laney plays in their final home game. Jamius Beckett will be one of those players celebrated as the senior has done it all for the Bucs this season. He’s covered some of the top receivers in the area at defensive back, while providing a spark in the run game and on kickoffs.
Defensive end Ryan Daborowski and offensive lineman Troy Bowman have also been key contributors for Coach Aashad Yeoman over the past few years. Daborowski has been relentless on opposing quarterbacks, with his ability to rush the passer, while Bowman provides plenty of size up front with his 6-foot, 3-inche, 290 pound frame.
West Brunswick struggled to get their bread and butter going until late in the game last Friday as the Trojans fell 30-13 against Hoggard. The Trojans have been out of sorts as of late, but still have plenty of playmaking ability behind running backs Shikeem Hill, Anthony McCray and Maliek King.
North Brunswick (2-1, 5-3) vs. Jacksonville-Northside (2-1, 2-7)
North Brunswick walloped Dixon on the road last week 42-7 and look to stay towards the top of the East Central Conference as the Scorpions entertain Northside at the newly name Garry Bishop Stadium on Friday night.
Northside has just two wins all season, while North Brunswick needs to keep their focus on the task at hand with a matchup against unbeaten East Duplin looming in two weeks.