Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Game Preview: New Hanover Wildcats head to Hampstead to face Topsail

New Hanover (3-1, 5-4) at Topsail (2-2, 4-5)

Topsail is coming off back-to-back wins and may have Rookie of the Year candidate Noah Lavalle in the backfield, but the Pirates face an entirely different beast Friday night when New Hanover visits Hampstead.

After a week in which everything went against the Wildcats as far as turnovers, penalties and the final score, New Hanover bounced back in a big way following a 43-0 shutout against Ashley. Nearly every skill player got involved during the effort to go along with a defensive touchdown.

Jahann Simmons transitioned from wide receiver to outside linebacker heading into the season and the senior was able to get into the end zone last Friday with a 20 yard interception return. Grant Daley leads the area with 120 tackles as the New Hanover defense looks to key on the first-year back from Topsail.

Receivers Malcolm Hill (13 catches, 217 yards) and Lamont Howard (38 catches, 630 yards) contributed in the passing game to go along with key blocks down field, while Wiz Vaughn returned to form with a big night. Javeon Hall (57 rushes, 250 yards) provides New Hanover with multiple options in the run game alongside Keegan Santos (73 rushes, 374 yards). Jyree Taylor (14 catches, 220 yards) has also emerged as a threat in the passing game at tight end.

Jyree Taylor.
Jyree Taylor.

Quarterbacks Blake Walston (90-of-172, 1,344 yards, 9TD/9INT) and Francis Meehan (28-of-56, 371yards, 4TD/3INT) looked relaxed after splitting time calling signals, with a couple of touchdowns, aiding a New Hanover offense that put up 405 total yards in the route.

Topsail dominated play against South Brunswick one week ago and brings some confidence into the match up after a 21-point comeback against Ashley earlier this month. Lavalle has over 1,100 yards this season to go along with nine touchdowns, but the Wildcats have just too much athleticism and too much firepower for the Pirates to keep this one close.

Both teams do have a quality kicking game. Westley Gaines is 31-for-33 in extra point tries this season to go along with one field goal from 32 yards out. Jorge Gonzales is 9-for-13 on PATs, and 6-of-9 on field goals.

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