WILMINGTON — After the opening round of the state playoffs, four local football teams remain as they get set to play over Thanksgiving weekend.
This week’s edition of the New Hanover County Schools TV produced show, Sports Round Table, caught up with the Head Coaches from Hoggard, Laney and New Hanover following impressive performances to keep their seasons alive at least one more week. Watch highlights and their interviews on the YouTube video above.
New Hanover rolled to a 45-3 victory over Northern Durham and moved to 6-0 on their home field at Legion Stadium. Junior slot back Wiz Vaughn had over 100 all-purpose yards, while sophomore signal caller Blake Walston threw for 243 yards and three touchdowns in his first postseason start at quarterback.
The Wildcats’ defense posted a shutout in the second half, holding Northern Durham to just 22 yards after the break.
Josh Jones had the best performance of his career in his second full season at quarterback as the junior threw for over 300 yards and used an array of receivers to guide Hoggard in a 38-34 road victory at Durham-Hillside. Collin Hairr, Patrick Morrison, Tre House, Chet Radack and C.J. Pipken all had big games at wide out, while the defense held a strong Hillside offense to just 21 points as Cullum Crowley came up with a big interception in the waning minutes to seal the Vikings victory.
The Laney football team rode running back Imeek Watkins and impressive second half performance by the defense in an emphatic 41-19 win at Fuquay-Varina. Watkins had 235 yards on the ground, while Sherod Sidbury engineered the offense at quarterback, rallying Laney from a pair of seven-point deficits in the opening half. A pair of forced turnovers late in the game by the senior latent defense pushed the Bucs to their first playoff win since 2011.
Although West Brunswick isn’t showcased in the weekly New Hanover County based broadcast, the Trojans rushed for over 300 yards and used a big second half effort to extinguish Northern-Guilford, 35-21, in Shallotte. With a top-seed in the 3AA playoffs, West Brunswick will be at home again this week.
No. 1 New Hanover (8-4) vs. No. 4 Cardinal Gibbons (11-1)
With a one-seed in the 4A playoffs, New Hanover (8-4) gets a big test on Friday, Nov. 25 when 11-1 Cardinal Gibbons rolls into Wilmington. The Crusaders have won five in a row after a second-place finish in the well-respected PAC-6 Conference. Like the Wildcats, Cardinal Gibbons has several play makers on the offensive side of the ball with a pair of 1,000 yards rushers to go along with senior quarterback Anton Stoneking, who’s thrown for 2,651 yards, 31 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
The Crusaders beat D.H. Conley, 70-42, in the opening round of the playoffs. This match-up has the potential for a shootout. New Hanover Coach Earl Smith breaks down the match-up on Sports Round Table.
No. 6 Hoggard (7-5) at No. 3 J.H. Rose (7-4)
The Vikings have won five straight coming off their best performance of the season one week ago. A good offensive game plan and solid defensive effort is just what Hoggard will need again if they hope to travel to grab a win in Greenville over an explosive J.H. Rose program.
Ryan Goodwin is as good a quarterback and wealth distributor as anyone in the state. He’s has over 3,000 yards through the air this season, with 37 touchdowns passes. The Hoggard secondary and linebackers will be test as Goodwin has seven targets with over 10 receptions this season, including senior wide out Caleb Edwards. Edwards leads the team with 54 receptions over 1,000 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. J.H. Rose is also rushing for 239 yards per game thanks to senior Dontavies Harris, who has 264 carries for 2,277 receiving yards and 10 scores.
No. 5 Laney (8-4) at No. 1 Wake Forest (12-0)
Wake Forest heads into the matchup with Laney unbeaten at 12-0 as the CAP-8 Conference Champions. They’ve outscored opponents 492-64 this season thanks to a fierce running attack. Three players have over double digits in touchdowns, led by juniors Devon Lawrence and Marquis Dunn.
Last week, the Cougars shutout Panther Creek, 56-0, in the opening round of the playoffs. They’ve posted six shutouts in 12 games, with a key road win at third-seeded Heritage, 26-13, on Oct. 14.
No. 1 West Brunswick (9-3) vs. No. 5 Jacksonville (8-4)
The Cardinals take the ride down Highway-17 from Onslow County for a date against West Brunswick at 7 p.m. on Friday night.
Jacksonville was just 3-3 in the Coastal 3A Conference, but the Cardinals are battled tested facing Havelock and West Craven during the regular season. Coming off a 35-34 victory against Westover in the first round, Jacksonville will have the daunting task of stopping West Brunswick’s fierce running attack.
The Trojans have the ability to control the ball, scoring points and with the lead, use its defense to put the game away. Bubba McCray had over 200 yards on the ground last week and Maliek King has been a strong second option in the back field due his size and athleticism. And just when you think you’re able to bottle up those two feature backs, Tariq Thomas brings breakaway speed to the mix.
Limiting big plays and containing athletic play makers with tons of speed with be the big test for West Brunswick this week.