Tropical weather expected to begin impacting the area on Friday has given local football programs one less day to prepare for week eight of the schedule, which is set to kick off at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Laney (2-0, 5-2) at New Hanover (1-0, 3-3)
Over the last eight years the New Hanover Wildcats have had Laney’s number with the Bucs’ last win against their counterparts from Market Street coming in 2008. But this season, Laney believes they have the right recipe to make a run at a conference title and the road to a league championship begins Thursday night at Legion Stadium.
Laney brings a four-game winning streak into the Wilmington rivalry game coming off back-to-back shutouts. Conversely, New Hanover should have a ton of confidence this week following its 34-21 victory against Hoggard.
New Hanover Player to Watch: Jomaious Williams, senior, defensive tackle: Williams was recently named to the Shrine Bowl and followed up the selection with a pair of fumble recoveries in last week’s result. The 6-foot, 2-inch, 285-pound defensive lineman boasts 26 total tackles in six games, with six tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. His presence up front, along with Khalil Toney, will be crucial in stopping Laney’s wing T-option offense.
Their ability to control the line of scrimmage could give a talented group of linebackers a chance to make plays against a Laney offense that has put up some gaudy numbers during its current stretch of success. Nas Brown has a team-high 65 tackles, while Grant Daley remains a under looked but big part of New Hanover’s defensive scheme. Jahann Simmons and Troy McCaskill have emerged as a vital asset on defense and special teams with a blocked punt against Hoggard.
Laney Player to Watch: Sherod Sidbury, sophomore, quarterback: Sidbury is an incredible athlete and looks to be gaining confidence in the option offense. His arm strength makes him a growing threat through the air, with a strong running back in Imeek Watkins aiding the run game.
Watkins has gone off over the last month, rushing for over 100 yards in each of Laney’s five wins this season. His ability to move the chains and make big plays will be instrumental in the Bucs ability to get into the end zone.
The Bucs defense has been just as good if not better through seven weeks, allowing 11 points per game. However, Laney has yet to go up against an opponent with a down field threat in addition to the athleticism New Hanover brings to the open space.
Inside linebacker Cayman Czesak will try to key on play maker Wiz Vaughn, who amassed nearly 600 yards of total offense to go along with a team-high six touchdowns so far this season. Up front, Ryan Daborowski, Travone McGhee and Dionte Hicks need to get after the quarterback while keeping Keegan Santos in check in the run game. Santos has the most carries (46 attempts, 224 yards) of any New Hanover rusher.
The Laney secondary will also be tested as Kymel Bloodworth, Eli Boone and Karl Lane match up against New Hanover wide outs Lamont Howard (23 catches, 460 yards, 2TD), Malcolm Hill (7 catches, 98 yards) and Jyree Taylor (11 catches, 165 yards).
The winner of Thursday’s match up will remain unbeaten in league play and on the inside track to a conference title. Laney faces Hoggard at home next week. New Hanover hits the road for a key game at West Brunswick.