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Five of the eight varsity football teams in The Wilson Times readership area will lift the curtain on their 2018 seasons by playing at home Friday night.
With the exception of two contests — Pasquotank County at SouthWest Edgecombe and North Johnston visiting Southeast Halifax — all kickoffs are scheduled for 7 p.m. The pair of outlying games will begin at 7:30.
Among Wilson County teams, both Fike and Beddingfield will welcome the new season at home. The Golden Demons play host to Northern Durham inside Buddy Bedgood Stadium, while Beddingfield gets the challenge of Oxford Webb. Hunt will hit the road for its opener, facing Eastern Wayne in a battle of Warriors.
The other three games on the docket have Cary Green Hope visiting Firebirds Stadium to face Southern Nash, Charles B. Aycock traveling to Wayne County rival Rosewood and Winterville South Central taking a trip to Snow Hill to oppose Greene Central.
For Hunt, the Eastern Wayne game represents an immediate opportunity to make amends for a 34-15 defeat to open the 2017 campaign. Hunt of the 3-A Big East Conference is coming off a pair of 3-8 seasons to open the Keith Byrum era. Eastern Wayne, a 3-A member of the split 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference, posted a 6-5 mark in the previous season.
When Fike and Northern Durham collide for the second contest on their two-game contract, the Demons and Knights will attempt to play a complete four quarters of football. Last year, Fike won an abbreviated 28-25 game that was halted by lightning in the third quarter and never resumed in the first-ever meeting between the schools. The 3-A Big East Conference Demons went 9-4 last year, while Northern Durham proceeded to go 8-3 and earn a share of the 3-A Big 8 Conference title.
Beddingfield will be the site of The Wilson Times & The Enterprise Game of the Week, when the Bruins and Warriors collide. In the first season under longtime assistant James Ward, Beddingfield grabbed a share of the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference title alongside Nash Central and SouthWest Edgecombe en route to an 8-5 record. Oxford Webb, a 2-A member of the split 1-A/2-A Northern Carolina Conference, struggled to a 2-9 showing in 2017. The Bruins, who had no trouble with Webb in a 38-0 win last season, are the preseason pick of coaches to win the EPC outright.
Alton Britt, F.T. Franks and Cole Page will be on the call for the broadcast, accessible at wilsontimes.com/gameoftheweek.
Southern Nash, which has won the last two 3-A Big East Conference crowns with unbeaten showings within the league, launches its season with a clash against Green Hope. The Firebirds, coming off a 12-2 year, posted a 38-28 victory over the 4-A Triangle 6 Conference Falcons in the 2017 opener. It was the closest any opponent played Southern Nash in one of its 12 victories, although Green Hope went on to win 10 games and the Triangle 6 title.
C.B. Aycock posted a 2-9 showing a season ago, but one of those victories was a 56-19 smashing of its county rival in Rosewood. As a 3-A member of the split 3-A/4-A ECC, Aycock hasn’t experienced a loss to the 1-A Carolina Conference Eagles in the tenure of head coach Steve Brooks, who will begin his sixth season in Pikeville.
Coached by former Fike assistant Bob Britt, Rosewood went 5-7 last year.
SouthWest Edgecombe enters a new year fresh off a 10-3 campaign that was marred by its closing. The reigning EPC tri-champion traveled to Pasquotank and handed it a 43-18 defeat to kick off the 2017 season. It was the start of a 3-8 march for the 2-A Northeastern Coastal Conference Panthers.
North Johnston went 5-6 a season ago and won just one game in the EPC, but a 26-15 victory over Southeast Halifax kicked off the year for head coach Jon Riba, who will begin his third season as the head man in Kenly on Friday night. Southeast Halifax corrected the ship going forward, posting an 8-5 mark and finishing second in the 1-A Tar Roanoke Conference, reaching the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1-A postseason.