By VAN HOLLAND
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Conference action is at the midway point and Edgecombe County teams are prepping for week three of the conference schedule. Two of the three teams are fighting to get a game above .500 in the conference. North Edgecombe is 4-3 overall and 1-1 in Two Rivers Conference action, while SouthWest Edgecombe is 4-4 overall and 1-1 in Eastern Plains Conference play.
The lone undefeated conference team in the county is Tarboro. The Vikings have cruised to two easy Two Rivers Conference victories and have posted a 5-2 overall and 2-0 conference record thus far.
Tarboro has their sights set on Riverside Friday night. The Knights are hoisting a 2-0 conference record and are tied with Tarboro atop the conference rankings. So Tarboro, who is the Associated Presses fifth ranked team in 1-A, wants to get off to a fast start Friday and put the Knights away early on, but to do that, they have to stop Riverside's running game and quarterback Jeremiah Wilson and running back Malik Smith. Wilson has rushed for 528 yards on 73 carries and has scored seven times, while Smith has scored six times and has rushed for 457 yards on 85 carries.
Tarboro has been led by Radja Bobbitt this season and he is the only offensive producer who hasn't gone down with an injury. Bobbitt leads the Vikings with 1,087 yards on the ground and has scored 21 touchdowns. Bobbitt has carried the ball 130 times this season, but has fumbled it seven times.
Tarboro will have to rely on two sophomore quarterbacks, because senior Tobias Pittman is done for the season. He has a torn meniscus.
Tarboro has used their strength up front this season on the offensive side and has been able to convert on 15 of their 26 third down conversions, which has helped them continue big drives early on in the season.
The last two weeks, Tarboro hasn't had to worry about converting on any type of crucial situation, because they have beat their opponents handily. Tarboro has scored 129 points in two games and has breezed through the conference.
The Warriors have a large task in front of them Friday when they host Northampton. The Jaguars are tied for second place with the Warriors and the winner will move to 2-1 and will still be tied for second with the loser of the Tarboro, Riverside game.
North Edgecombe was ousted last week by Riverside in a 56-14 lopsided loss. The Warriors are still making simple mistakes that are costing them big down the stretch.
For the Warriors to be successful Friday, they are going to have to contain the Jaguars quarterback Keion Crossen and their running back Waquel Ponton. Crossen has rushed for 1,190 yards on 124 carries and has scored 13 TDs and has passed for 285 yards and thrown five TDs. He has thrown six interceptions, which is something the Warriors could possibly take advantage of.
Ponton has rushed for 381 yards and six TDs on just 72 touches.
The Warriors have put the offensive attack on the back of sophomore Antwoin Pittman this season. He has rushed for over a 1,000 yards and has scored 18 TDs.
The Warriors offense has been clicking, but their defense has still got a little work to do. The are still working on filling the right gaps and making tackles in the open field.
SouthWest is coming off of a tough 27-14 loss to Washington and their challenges don't get any easier. They travel to face a regrouped Farmville Central squad this week, who is riding a 6-1 overall record and is 1-1 in the conference. The two schools are tied for second place in the conference and the winner will possibly have the upper hand on earning a playoff berth.
SouthWest will have to step their game up, because the Jaguars are only allowing 15 points per game and are scoring 35.
The Cougars turned the ball over three times last week, which only one of the miscues hurt them. The play that changed the game was a 60-yard interception returned for a TD midway through the third quarter and put the Cougars down two scores. They were unable to crawl out of the cellar and fight back.
That problem has arisen before for Jonathan Cobb's team and he said after the game Friday, he needs to find a true leader who can step up and play through adversity and help lead the team.
On offense, the Cougars couldn't get it going on the ground, but Quay Wooten connected seven times in the air last week. That was the only way they were able to move the ball down the field, because Washington was in their backfield most of the game on run plays.
Marcus Williams and Barry Smith have come around for the Cougars lately to add to Devontrell Hyman's run game. The trio has emerged as a tough group of backs that can carry the Cougars Friday night.
The offensive line has to block better than they did last week for their backs, because they were blown off the ball on 90 percent of the plays.
Cobb said that has happened four times this season and they need to fix that heading down the stretch.