Monday, June 17, 2024

Football: Week 5 players to watch, previews and game schedule

With the Mideastern Conference schedule looming for our high school football programs, local teams hit the field in week five with a chance to make a statement heading into league play. Wet weather and sloppy field conditions could have an impact on Friday night with a 40 percent chance of rain moving towards the 7 p.m. kick off.

Highlighting this weeks schedule is a match up between cross-county foes as West Brunswick (3-1) plays host to North Brunswick (2-2). Hannah Leyva will have play-by-play and highlights from Shallotte through Port City Daily’s live blog. Keep up with scores throughout Friday night on Twitter @PortCityDaily.

Laney (2-2) will play at home against East Bladen (3-1), while New Hanover (1-2) returns from the bye week with a tough road test at unbeaten Scotland County (4-0). Hoggard (1-3) looks for a bounce back win, but face off against a Clinton Darkhorse team ranked at No. 2 among 2A schools in the state of North Carolina.

New Hanover (1-2) at Scotland County (4-0) 

Player to Watch: Grant Daley, junior, inside linebacker: Daley is coming off a devastating injury suffered in the 4A East Regional playoff game last season. The junior is back at full strength and highlights a talented linebacker corps alongside Nas Brown, Jahann Simmons and Troy McCaskill.

The Wildcats had a week off to iron things out before heading to Laurinburg on Friday night to face 4A powerhouse Scotland County. Coming off setbacks against Myrtle Beach and Havelock, New Hanover wraps up a three-game road trip and will have their hands full for a third straight game with one of the toughest stretches of any local football program.

Scotland County has outscored its four opponents 130-13, with a pair of shutouts. The Scots are listed in the top five of this week’s Associated Press state 4A high school football poll. Led by junior running back Zamir White, Scotland County has a handful of college prospects on the roster and should prove to be another solid test for New Hanover on both sides of the ball.

New Hanover has scored 20 points over its last two games, one of which came on a 90-plus yard kickoff return by Wiz Vaughn. Vaughn has been the featured standout in the Wildcats’ offense, while a talented front seven on defense will need to step if New Hanover  hopes to come away with its first win since the season opener, a 38-20 victory against Hoke County on August 19.

Ashley (2-0) at Westover (2-2) 


Player to Watch: Jacob Reed, senior, quarterback: Reed is a quarterback inside a linebackers frame with ability to make plays in the run game and through the air thanks to a group of skilled players led by Corey Whaley, Freddie Thames and Sean Ross. The first-year play caller is gaining confidence each week with the help of running back Bradley Plyler.

The Screaming Eagles are a group not yet tested to its fullest, but the eager bunch from Monkey Junction hits the road for the first time this season on Friday with a trip to Fayetteville for a date against (2-2) Westover. Plyler has rushed for 362 yards on 47 carries through two games, averaging 7.7 yards per rush. He has five total touchdowns and a pair of 100-plus yard rushing games.

Ashley needs to limit mistakes on the road, while continuing to feed its hard nose running back to open plays down field in the passing game. The Screaming Eagles’ defense is a solid run stuffing unit, but faces a Westover offense that has averaged 236 yards rushing in four games.

Hoggard (1-3) at Clinton (3-0) 

Tony Allen. Photo courtesy- John Crouch
Tony Allen. Photo courtesy- John Crouch

Hoggard has been on the wrong end of three close games this season, having dropped to 1-3 overall. The three setbacks have come by a combined seven points, with its last defeat, 14-13, coming after a missed extra point late in the fourth quarter that would have sent the game into overtime.

Offensively, the Vikings have also been nicked up. Running back Rashod Wallace did not suit up against Carolina Forest last Friday, while wide receiver Collin Hairr is also out for the next few weeks with a broken collarbone.

Chet Radack and Tre Houser have done a good job filling in for Hairr as the primary targets in the pass game, while Tony Allen continues to get a brunt of the workload out of the back field. Junior Josh Jones has shown poise at the quarterback position after he engineered a two-minute drill to near perfection against Carolina Forest to get into the end zone with 21 seconds to play.  Patrick Morrison provides Jones additional depth in the air at tight end.

The Hoggard offense has been balanced for the most part, while Jones has completed 63 percent of his passes this season with six touchdowns and two interceptions. Jones has also played a bigger role in the run game as of late, with 20 carries for 110 yards rushing last week.

Defensively, Hoggard will face another strong opponent in their final non-conference game as the Vikings head to Clinton for a date with legendary Coach Bob Lewis and the Darkhorses. Clinton is ranked in the top three among 2A schools in North Carolina, outscoring opponents 149-16 through three games.

Clinton has three featured backs led by senior Ryheem Skinner. Skinner averages 105 yards per game, with five touchdowns this season.

Laney (2-2) vs. East Bladen (3-1)

Player to Watch: Imeek Watkins, senior, running back: The Laney offense got to what works best in a comeback win against Northern Nash last week as Imeek Watkins rushed for over 100 yards and scored two touchdowns, including the game winner with six minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Both wins this season have come when Watkins has had over 100 yards on the ground.

Laney flexed their muscles on the defensive end this past Friday thanks to a big effort from its front seven. Linebacker Cayman Czesak has great speed from sideline to sideline, while defensive ends Travon McGhee and Ryan Daborowski provide matchup problems coming of the edge. Karl Lane also stepped up last week with several big plays and a key interception late in the game.

East Bladen is off to a 3-1 start, but the Eagles have yet to face an opponent with the skill set of Laney. East Bladen has put up 40-plus points in each of its last three wins following a 29-22 setback in week one against South Columbus. The Eagles are a run heavy offense as five different players have 18 or more carries through four games.

North Brunswick (2-2) at West Brunswick (3-1)

The game of the week when it comes to head-to-head matchups featuring local teams will be in Shallotte as North Brunswick travels to West Brunswick.

Dakota Desfonds. Photo courtesy- Cape Fear Photography.
Dakota Desfonds. Photo courtesy- Cape Fear Photography.

The Trojans ran off 34 unanswered points last week following a 34-7 victory against Whiteville. Big plays on offense and special teams guided North Brunswick to a bounce back 49-17 result at home over South Brunswick.

A pair of teams with a ton of talent in the backfield should provide plenty of highlight reel plays as both defenses face a strong rushing attack. Bubba McCray is coming off a 200 yard night and three touchdowns. The featured back has 658 yards rushing in four games for West Brunswick. The Trojans are averaging nearly 300 yards rushing per game.

Jc Smith is not far behind as the North Brunswick rusher broke a pair of touchdowns runs, including a 75-yard sprint and 85-yard dash for scores last Friday. Jayhlen Washington gives the Scorpions a threat in the return game. The state track champion took a 95 yard kick off to the house to begin the second half last week.

Emotions will be running high this Friday night between these two familiar foes. West Brunswick is 2-0 at home this season. North Brunswick is in search of its first road win.

 Topsail (2-2) at Jacksonville (3-1)

Topsail allowed a pair of kickoff returns in last week’s 36-34 setback to Croatan. The Pirates head to Onslow County on Friday night for a date with the 3-1 Cardinals. Topsail is 2-2 overall, with both wins coming on the road.

The Pirates have thrown the ball just 20 times in four games. Freshman Noah Lavalle has keyed the run game with six touchdowns. D.J. Montano has been sidelined since week one with an injury, which has force Topsail to use a combination of backs, including Lavalle, Josh Smith, Hayden Walsh and quarterback Jacob Floyd.

Josh Carter.
Josh Carter.

Jacksonville has outscored opponents 139-58 after an impressive 41-6 victory at New Bern one week ago. The Cardinals have put up 29 or more points in four games this season.

South Brunswick (1-3) vs. Fairmont (0-3)

South Brunswick has dropped three straight after a season opening victory, but the Cougars have a good opportunity to get back in the win column on Friday night at home against winless Fairmont.

Junior Josh Carter has 78 carries for 524 yards and four touchdowns for South Brunswick. Sophomore quarterback Mason Phillips also has three trips to the end zone. The Cougars are a young team with a new head coach, but a positive result this week could help start to make believers for a program that has struggled to find much consistency from top-to-bottom of the last several seasons.


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