Round two of the state playoffs in high school football gets underway on Friday night as New Hanover and Hoggard look to keep their seasons alive in the 4A tournament.
On the latest edition of Sports Round Table, which airs at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, Joe Catenacci caught up with Coaches Earl Smith, Craig Underwood and Aashad Yeoman to showcase week one of the postseason. The entire broadcast can be seen, with game highlights and analysis, by scrolling to the bottom of this story.
This week’s Throwback Sunday game is the 2001 State Championship contest between Laney and Independence. Throwback Sundays air at 7 p.m. on Time Warner Cable Channel 5/Charter Cable Channel 191.
No. 2 New Hanover (10-2) vs. No. 7 West Johnston (7-5)
Coming off an emphatic 47-9 victory over Knightdale in round one of the playoffs, New Hanover entertains West Johnston as the seven-seed in the 16-team east regional bracket.
The Wildcats take an eight-game winning streak into the matchup at Jurgenson-Gabriel Field, with its high octane passing game leading the way after 356 yards of total offense last week. While Burke Estes continues to spread the wealth to a handful of skill position players, it’s the defense that has come alive over the last few games thanks to a good push up front, strong linebacker play and ball hawks in the secondary.
Isiah Crawford and Ka’Twon Hill have done a better job containing the edge at defensive end, while Jamious Williams continues to clog up the running lanes at tackle. Nigel Hines and Nas Brown have been big playmakers off the blitz at linebacker, with Ronnie Beatty navigating the secondary. The senior safety has six interceptions in as many games leading into Friday’s contest.
Offensively, Estes has thrown for over 2,600 yards this season, connecting with University of North Carolina commit Garrett Walston on nine touchdown passes. Down the stretch, New Hanover has done a great job getting the ball to its running backs in the screen game, with Tre Age and Wiz Vaughn in the flats. Keegan Santos continues to serve as the team’s leading back between the tackles. Lamont Howard can also stretch the field with his athleticism and playmaking ability, while Carl Scott has emerged as another threat at wide out.
Among common opponents, West Johnston defeated Knightdale 19-14 in its regular season finale and defeated Cardinal Gibbons 34-16 in the opening round of the playoffs.
New Hanover Head Coach Earl Smith will also be back on the opposing sideline from West Johnston Head Coach Jimmie Williams after competing against each other during Smith’s time at Raleigh-Millbrook and Wake Forest.
The Wildcats went 5-2 in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference, with a 3-2 mark on the road. West Johnston has won six of its last seven heading into Friday’s matchup.
No. 3 Durham-Hillside (9-2) vs. No. 6 Hoggard (8-4)
Hoggard heads to Durham for round two of the tournament as the Vikings take on No. 3 Hillside. The Hornets are 5-0 on their home turf this season and captured the PAC-6 4A Conference Title.
Following a 26-22 victory over E.E. Smith, Hoggard is healthy and riding a five-game winning streak. Tony Allen continues to serve as the short yardage back in the red zone coming off a three-touchdown performance against the Golden Bulls. Rashod Wallace is an explosive back as the juniors have rushed for over a combined 1,800 yards this season. Allen has 14 trips to the end zone, while Coach Underwood has tried to ride the hot hand at quarterback, splitting time between Bryant Sasser and Josh Jones.
Sasser came up big late in the game last week as the junior hit Hunter Louthan a pair of key passes in the fourth quarter. Jones has also been effective through the air and on the ground. The two have 14 total touchdowns and just six interceptions.
While Louthan was held to just a pair of receptions in round one of the tournament, the big tight end still has a team-high 375 yards receiving. Collin Hairr leads the team in catches (23), while Evan Allegret, Mathew Eakins and Tristan Kandare remain viable options in the passing game.
Defensively, Omar Jones is coming off a huge game with four tackles for loss. Tony Moore, Will Dykes and Will Kandare provide a ton of experience on the line of scrimmage, with the secondary coming into shape behind Brandon Ray, Carson Whitaker and Ricardo Bennett.
Durham-Hillside has outscored its 11 opponents this season 414-129, with eight wins in a row. The Hornets have won conference in six straight seasons and reached the third round of the 4A state playoffs last year, ultimately falling to the defending 4A Champion New Bern Bears.
Hillside has enjoyed nine consecutive winning seasons under Coach Antonio King.
The winner of the No. 2 New Hanover/No. 7 West Johnston and No. 3 Hillside/No. 6 Hoggard contests will face off in round three of the playoffs on Friday, November 27.
|New Hanover Offense
|New Hanover Defense
Special Teams: Punter- No. 80 Harrison Hardy; Kicker- No. 32 Josiah Eason; Holder- No. 28 Caleb Bishop; Snap- No. 99 Grant Szaloky
Special Teams: Punter- Justin Burger; Kicker- Nick Orsa; Holder- Bryant Sasser; Snap- Matt Scymeczek