By VAN HOLLAND
All three Edgecombe County teams won their respective conference openers last week. Each coach wants to keep that trend going while heading into week two of conference action and week nine of the season.
SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars
SouthWest Edgecombe has been tested this season and has been able to pass numerous of those, but this week will be the biggest test they face this season.
The Cougars (4-3, 1-0) are hosting the Washington Pam Pack (5-2, 1-0) during the Cougars homecoming.
Coach Jonathan Cobb wants the momentum from the North Pitt win a week ago to flow over into Friday's game, but he knows that the Pam Pack possess different weapons.
"They are a pretty good football team and they have two really good running backs," Cobb said. "The have a speed guy and a power guy who can both get it done for them."
They have a speedster at running back who cuts the ball well, in Markel Spencer. Spencer has gained 993 yards on 131 touches and has scored seven times. His counterpart, Stevie Green is a power back. Green has rushed for 602 yards on 78 carries and has also scored seven touchdowns.
"Offensively we know we have to cover the perimeter pretty well," Cobb said. "They like to run a stretch play and cut back off of it and that means we certainly have tackle well or we will be in trouble. We have tackled well at times this season, but we have had our problems."
Another player Cobb is worried about is Karim Topping who plays on the defensive side of the ball. He is all over place at linebacker, according to Cobb.
"It is amazing watching film at how No. 5 is all over the place and goes after ball on every play," Cobb said. "They also have two hogs upfront who can clog it up and cause trouble for running attacks."
Cobb knows if his offensive line is playing well then his offense can be hard to contain, just like they were last week when they ran all over North Pitt.
"If we can have a repeat performance we will have to deal with a lot of pressure up front," Cobb said. "They have a tendency on film to send everybody at once on blitz packages so we have to be ready."
Cobb knows for the offense to flow, he will need another big performance from Marcus Williams and Barry Smith. They have come into their own the last three games to showcase their talents right beside Devontrell Hyman who was the workhorse early on.
Tarboro will travel to Rocky Mount to face off against an unfamiliar opponent, but the coach on that side of the field is very familiar to the Vikings. Tarboro coach Jeff Craddock will coach against Don Reams, who coaches the Rocky Mount Prep Jaguars. Reams and Craddock are close friends and was an assistant on Craddock's staff for many years until he left to take the job at Rocky Mount Prep.
Reams is just getting the Jaguars program started and they have had trouble at times this season, but Craddock isn't taking them lightly.
"We have to come out ready to play," Craddock said. "We have to have our heads on straight and have intensity. If we do all the right things coming out of the gate then it makes everyone's job a little easier."
Craddock and his staff have worked this week on containing the Jaguars quarterback, Mark Tann. He is the most elusive QB Craddock has seen this year. Tann has thrown for 153 yards and two TDs, but has thrown four interceptions. He has 594 rushing yards and seven TDs as well.
"He is a jitterbug back there and extends plays," Craddock said. "He helps out on offense, because they can move the ball on broken plays."
The Jaguars are averaging just 239 yards per game. They scored 22 points last week against North Edgecombe and a lot of their plays were broken.
"We have to have ready to play," Craddock said. "If we contain their quarterback, then our defense will do their job."
JV QB Daniel Whitaker will start for the Vikings. The sophomore is getting the nod, because starter Tobias Pittman is still out with a knee injury and backup Najee Brown broke his wrist last week in the first quarter in the Vikings win over South Creek.
"Najee has a clean break and is done at quarterback, but he will be on the field next week possibly playing safety," Craddock said. "We are expecting Daniel to do a good job, because he has led our JV team this season."
Tarboro will also be without fullback and tight end Markese Clapp. He is suspended for the second time this year not being able to dress out.
The game is gonna be played at Rocky Mount Sports Complex field on Wesleyan Boulevard.
North Edgecombe Warriors
North Edgecombe is coming off of 52-22 victory against Rocky Mount Prep in Two Rivers Conference action, but this week doesn't get easier for the Warriors. They head to Williamston to play the Riverside Knights.
North Edgecombe (4-2, 1-0) is riding a three game win streak, but coach Keith Parisher knows his team has to be ready to play.
He has been working mainly on defense this week. The Warriors have worked on filing the right gaps, because in the previous games they've had two players filing the same gap and their opponents have used the open space to make big plays. Last week, the Warriors had ample opportunities to sack the quarterback or hit a running back in the back field, but they ran right past the offensive player.
"Defense has been our key focus this week," Parisher said. "We are getting better on that side of the ball, but we still have work to do."
Riverside runs the spread option and uses their running backs as much as possible. Malik Smith and Jeremiah Wilson are the Knights top two backs. Smith has rushed for 417 yards on 75 carries and has scored six times, while Wilson has gained 493 yards on 65 touches and scored six times.
Their QB sits back in the pocket at times and finds open receivers. Clay Wagner has thrown for 618 yards and five TDs. He has completed 44 of 99 passes.
"We have to contain their quarterback," Parisher said. "We have to force him to make mistakes and take advantage of them."
On the offensive side of the ball, the Warriors have added a passing attack. Sophomore QB Jacoby Bullock has began to feel comfortable at the position and is getting better, according to Parisher.
Sophomore running back Antwoin Pittman has continued to carry the team on his back. He has carried the load for the Warriors and has rushed for over 900 yards and has scored 17 TDs. He is coming off of a 127 yard, three TD performance.