What has been dubbed one of the biggest rivalries in high school football over the last couple of decades will happen again tonight in Tarboro when the Vikings host the SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars.
Both teams are sitting at the top of the conference standings with Tarboro in first place and SouthWest tied for second with North Pitt. With a Cougars win tonight, it could shake up the conference standings and force a three way tie for first place vying North Pitt wins.
SouthWest was undefeated and tied with Tarboro going into last weeks game against North Pitt, but after North Pitt smashed SouthWest in the mouth, as Cougars head coach Raymond Cobb put it, that knocked the Cougars down into second and in a tie with North Pitt.
"This is a must win for us tonight especially if we want a better playoff seed," Cobb said. "This is going to be as big as it has been all year."
On the other side, Craddock knows what this game means for him and his Vikings. He wants his team to go out and try to control the ball and hopefully come away with a win.
"SouthWest has a good football team and coaching staff and I know they are coming in here to play hard and try to beat us," Craddock said. "For that not to happen we have to play mistake free football."
Cobb leads the head to head series against Craddock 5-3 since Cobb has been at SouthWest. Craddock is hoping he can reel off another win against his long time friend. Last year Tarboro walked away from Pinetops with a 21-19 win.
Tonight's game will be a last for several reasons. At seasons end, Cougars head coach Raymond Cobb will be retiring which means this is the last time he will face off head to head against Craddock. The second reason is because this will be the last time the two teams meet in conference action since the Vikings will move down to 1-A next year.
With the game being one of the most friendliest rivalries around high school football, both coaches have worries about tonight's game not because of trouble but because of the opposing teams offensive line and back field.
"They have a big offensive line which is concern for us," Craddock said. "They open up holes for their backs to gain big yards."
Another concern Craddock has is the Cougars senior running back Gerald Hinton. Hinton has gained 1,169 yards and scored 17 TDs this season and when he gets outside he is hard to catch because of his speed.
"Gerald is a good back and when he gets outside he is fast, "Craddock said. "We have to contain him and keep him from making big plays."
Cobb has the same concerns about the Vikings back field and offensive line. He said they have a talented group of backs including quarterback Aaron Moore.
"They have a good offensive line and they are getting better," Cobb said. "We have to control their running backs and not let them get in the open field because they can make big plays happen quick. Their quarterback can make the big plays as well. They have a lot of weapons that can hurt any team they play."
So far this season, Vikings senior Quentin Roberson has led the Vikings rushing attack. He has gained 943 yards on just 83 carries and has scored 14 times, while Radja Bobbitt has compiled 683 yards on 89 touches.
Another concern Cobb has is Travonne Marshall. Marshall is a senior who transferred to Tarboro this year from Northern Nash.
Marshall has been an impact player that has helped gel the Tarboro defense together this season. He started out playing defensive end and then he was moved three weeks ago to linebacker. Craddock made the adjustment on defense, because he knows Marshall is quick and has the ability to make the big plays.
"Travonne is a heck of a player that has helped us this year," Craddock said. "He is special and has a nose for the football on defense."
Cobb said when he saw film on Tarboro, he that Marshall was the type of player who could change the game on any given play.
Another spot Cobb his concerned about is the defensive end position for Tarboro. He knows if he runs left, he will be running at one of the top defensive players in the state, Tyquan Lewis. Lewis recently committed to Ohio State and was just selected to play in the 77th Shrine Bowl.
"When you look at the Tarboro defense you see athletes every where," Cobb said. "Jeff has that program at the top because he instilled discipline into the program when he took over and that has been a big part of his success. He is a good coach and has great knowledge of the game."
Craddock in turn couldn't give enough praise about his long time friend. He said the Cobb is a well rounded coach and has been very successful during his 25 years of coaching because he knows the game and knows how to win.
Both coaches said that to win the game it is going to be two keys to winning. They said that whoever wins will be the team that turns the ball over the least and controls the line of scrimmage.
Cobb is known for controlling the pigskin, but for Tarboro that hasn't happened a lot this season because they have had big play after big play happen for them.
Both team have big offensive lines that have gotten better as the season has progressed. They know how to open up the holes for their backs and seal off the opposing defenses.
It is going to be a battle of the trenches and who can control the ball without turning it over.
The North Edgecombe Warriors are coming off a tough conference win where they defeated Kipp Pride 14-12. Tonight will be no cake walk for the Warriors when they host Weldon.
Freshman running back Antoine Pittman has been the go to guy for the Warriors this year. He has carried the load and has been a big play maker for them.
North Edgecombe has won only one conference game so far and have just two left and if they want to make the playoffs then they are going to have to win out the rest of the season.
For them to do that, they are going to have to gel and stop making the mental and physical mistakes that they have been making.
Head coach Keith Parisher, just wants his team to continue to work hard and play the same way.
Parisher said he had hoped his team would work harder this week then have the last couple, because these two games coming up are big for them.
Parisher said his teams weakness is losing focus. We watch the formation of the other team and see it two or three times but can’t seem to recognize the formations.