The Political Agitator response: SouthWest & Tarboro we can do this. Let’s bring the “W” back to Edgecombe County.
SOUTHWEST EDGECOMBE (10-3) AT ELIZABETH CITY NORTHEASTERN (13-0)
PREGAME CHATTER: The Cougars have made the third round of the NCHSAA state playoffs three times in the past decade, but have failed to advance to a regional final each time. Jonathan Cobb and his players hope that changes tonight. The Cougars have a healthy Marcus Williams in the backfield, which should give Devontrell Hyman a breather when it’s needed. Two of the team’s three losses this season came on the road, but they were by a combined 12 points.
NORTHEASTERN AT A GLANCE: He might not have any college scholarship offers, but Northeastern’s Ge’Dari Liverman is the best player in the upper east corner of the state. He has accounted for 3,111 yards of total offense this season and is the reason the Eagles are undefeated. The program has rolled through opponents this season and is averaging 45.2 points per game. The defense has also been credited with four shutouts.
KEY TO A WIN: The Cougars haven’t faced an offense like Northeastern’s in a while, so the goal will be to weather the initial storm and then contain Liverman. He’ll lineup at a variety of positions including quarterback, so SouthWest Edgecombe will need to know where he is on the field at all times.
TELEGRAM ODDS: Northeastern by 7
TARBORO (10-3) AT WARSAW JAMES KENAN (11-1)
PREGAME CHATTER: Six weeks ago, it didn’t look like the Vikings would be in this position, but they are. Tarboro is playing its best football of the season on both sides of the ball, and it’s the seniors who are making an impact. Deshan Farmer (944 yards) has a chance to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark for the season tonight, while quarterback Malcolm Speller can continue to piece together a second-half of the season to remember. Tarboro hasn’t lost a road playoffs game since 2007 and is 35-8 in true road games since then.
JAMES KENAN AT A GLANCE: The Tigers are the defending 1-AA state champions, and have lost just two games since 2011. They are led by quarterback Ken Avent Jr., who is the son of head coach Ken Avent. The sophomore has thrown for 1,504 yards this season, with 25 touchdowns and just four interceptions to his name. There is also a staple of running backs led by JaQuan Williams (781 yards rushing, 17 touchdowns) making this a true dual-threat offense.
KEY TO A WIN: Eliminate the pass. Vikings coach Jeff Craddock knows that the Tigers can run the ball and pass, but he feels that the Vikings’ rush defense is the strength of the unit. So, if the Tigers are forced to run the ball, that could work in favor of the Vikings.
TELEGRAM ODDS: James Kenan by 6