Ashley (0-1, 2-3) at Topsail (0-2, 2-5)
After a promising 2-0 start the Ashley football team has dropped three straight. Injuries and a lack of depth have decimated the Screaming Eagles confidence over the past few weeks.
The return of senior Caleb Parker has helped take some of the pressure of an Ashley offense that has struggled to find its identity since losing star running back Bradley Plyler to injury for the season. Parker looked much more comfortable in his second game back during the Screaming Eagles 24-6 setback against North Brunswick last Friday, but a depleted offensive line hasn’t helped quarterback Jacob Reed and company.
Corey Whaley, Freddie Thames and Sean Ross need to play a bigger part if Ashley hopes to turn the ship around. The Screaming Eagles were also without defensive standout Joe Barbera last week because of injury. As much as Plyler meant to Ashley’s offense, Barbera has been important on defense for the Screaming Eagles over the past two seasons.
Topsail has dropped four straight games, but had bright spots along the way with freshman Noah Lavalle rushing for 833 yards and seven touchdowns this year. Hayden Walsh and Joshua Smith continue to get carries in the Pirates offense, while senior Chris Nixon leads the team with 38 tackles.
The Pirates 0-3 on their home field this season. Allowing big plays on special teams has been an issue at times and will be a pivotal part once again this week. Winning the turnover battle, getting off the field on third down and scoring points in the red zone are keys to success for both teams heading into Thursday’s game in Hampstead.