Abbreviated schedule marks return of high school football

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While the schedule is by no means full, a trio of varsity football teams from The Wilson Times readership area will return to the field Friday night after the unwelcome intrusion of Hurricane Florence.

Although Wilson County was spared the full wrath of the storm, some of its neighbors and would-be Week 5 opponents were not. With Hunt scheduled to face Havelock, Fike opposing Erwin Triton, Beddingfield squaring off with Jacksonville Northside and Southern Nash slated for a game with Jacksonville White Oak, half of the area teams were left without a dance partner this week.

In Wayne County, Charles B. Aycock has been kept off the practice field as Wayne County Schools will remain closed through Tuesday, Sept. 25. But even if the Golden Falcons could play Friday, its 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference counterpart in New Bern is nowhere near ready to return to play. Craven County Schools are closed through the end of next week, at a minimum.

Therefore, the abbreviate slate of contests this week features Northern Nash at SouthWest Edgecombe, North Johnston playing host to Johnston County archrival Princeton, and Greene Central, in a small surprise, opening up 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference play at Washington. The Northern Nash-SouthWest Edgecombe game is slated for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, while the remaining two contests are set for 7.

Greene Central (2-2), returning to action following a 35-32 loss at Eastern Wayne on Sept. 7, had a two-pronged approach in regard to playing this week. If the Pam Pack was not available to play, then the Rams had plans to travel to Farmville Central to face the Jaguars in a makeup of the nonconference game that was scheduled for last week. However, Washington officials announced Wednesday that the Pam Pack will have the ability to host the Rams.

Aside from the regular $7 admission, the donation of four of the following items — cases of water, cleaning supplies, trash bags, school supplies or toiletries — will gain admission to the game, with the supplies going to ECC programs at Kinston, North Lenoir, South Lenoir and West Craven.

The Rams are led by senior running back and safety A.J. Dupree, while the Pam Pack enters conference play coming off losses to D.H. Conley and Tarboro. Washington has defeated East Carteret and Beaufort County rival Pinetown Northside.

An underrated rivalry renews at Ben E. Strifert Stadium, where North Johnston hosts its former 1-A Carolina Conference rival in Princeton. North Johnston, now in the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference, has had a Jekyll and Hyde approach to its first four games, compiling a 2-2 record. The Panthers have beaten Southeast Halifax and Newton Grove Hobbton, while taking losses to North Brunswick and Rosewood. Sophomore running back Camron Privette has turned into the lead running back for North Johnston.

Princeton has enjoyed a strong start to 2018, currently unbeaten through three games. In true rivalry fashion, the teams have split the last six games of the series.

In Pinetops, a physical contest could well be on tap when Jonathan Cobb’s Cougars tangle with the Knights of first-year head coach Andrew Farriss. SouthWest (2-1) had its rivalry game with Tarboro disrupted due to Florence, while Northern Nash has opened 3-1, with the lone loss at the hands of the Vikings.

Senior quarterback Jayden Lewis gives the Cougars not only a threat to run from that position, but also a throwing element that SouthWest has not had access to in recent years.

The Cougars’ defense enjoys a plus-six turnover margin, with the unit responsible for five interceptions by five different players to date.