Playoffs begin for Vikings, Panthers, ’Hawks and KnightsPublished 7:56pm Thursday, November 1, 2012
The first round of the playoffs will begin tonight with some familiar matchups as well as some new ones.
After locking up the Four Rivers Conference crown with a crushing victory over Perquimans, Plymouth earned the No. 1 seed and will host Cape Hatteras, the No. 8 seed from the Tideland Conference.
The Seahawks’ Anchor Bowl victory over Northside in the regular season finale allowed them to avoid a trip to Manteo in the first round and has instead sent them to Creswell, where they will take on a Tigers team they shutout earlier in the year.
That Anchor Bowl loss locked up Northside’s second trip of the year to Manteo this season, where the Panthers are hoping to pull off a playoff stunner.
Riverside, who is competing in the 1-AA classification, drew a No. 7 seed and will travel to face a tough Northampton team that finished the regular season 9-1 to earn a No. 2 seed.
Here’s a look at the matchups:
No. 8 Cape Hatteras (2-8) at No. 1 Plymouth (10-0)
Plymouth put the ribbon on its fantastic regular season by topping Perquimans 60-12 to clinch the Four Rivers Conference crown last Friday.
The Vikings were rewarded with a No. 1 seed in there pod and will begin the playoffs at home against a Cape Hatteras team that finished in last place in the Tideland Conference and has lost four straight.
“It’s a super feeling to finish 10-1 and to be able to get the No. 1 seed,” Plymouth coach Robert Cody said. “To win the conference championship is great. You never know what can happen in the playoffs, but at least you can say you were the conference champions.”
The Vikings, who have not lost to a 1-A opponent all year, ended the regular season ranked seventh in the AP poll and have won eight straight games.
Should Plymouth extend its streak to nine, it will play the winner of the Southside-Creswell matchup.
No. 5 Southside (5-5) at No. 4 Creswell (6-4)
The Seahawks head into the playoffs having played their best two games of the season in the last two weeks and now the key is for Southside to keep it up as it heads to Creswell for its first round matchup with the Tigers, who finished in second place in the Tideland Conference.
“I think our last two games have been our best two games and that’s a good thing going into the playoffs,” said Southside coach DeWayne Kellum, whose Seahawks fell 31-28 to Riverside before closing out the regular season with a 36-12 Anchor Bowl victory over Northside.
Against the Panthers, Southside rushed for 412 yards and forced three turnovers and showed resiliency when their lead was threatened.
“I like the fact that we had less turnovers (2) and that we marched down field and put the game away,” Kellum said. “We didn’t get rattled when Northside scored two quick touchdowns and I thought our offensive line blocked well and got off the ball good.”
The Seahawks will play a familiar foe tonight, as they hosted Creswell in Week 2 and rolled to a 42-0. However, Kellum isn’t putting much stock in that victory.
“It was so early in the year that you can’t take a whole lot from it because that’s how people sneak up on you,” Kellum said. “They came in second in their conference so obviously they have gotten better since we played them.”
The bottom line for Southside is that it cannot afford to leave points on the board and must execute on defense.
“We still have to get better on finishing drives,” Kellum said. “We have to get better in the secondary and get better at tackling.”
No. 6 Northside (4-6) at No. 3 Manteo (9-1)
The Panthers struggled late in the season as they lost four of their last five games but the good news for them is that once the playoffs begin everybody starts off with an even record.
“You play to try and get in and once you get in the records don’t really mean anything. You just have to go out and play four quarters of football,” Northside coach Keith Boyd said. “Anybody can be beat anyone on any given night. If we go down there and have a few things bounce our way you don’t ever know and that’s the mentality we have to take into the game.”
The Panthers faced off with the Redskins on Oct. 5 and fell 65-0 and Boyd said that had the team been able to make a few key plays the final score might have been a little closer.
“At the beginning of the game we picked up a couple of first downs and we had the opportunity to stop them on some third and fourth down plays but we just didn’t make a few tackles,” Boyd said. “If we make a few tackles here and there we can keep that game a little closer than what the outcome was.”
The Panthers have been ravaged by turnovers this season, and as they prepare to play a Redskins team that at one point in the year was ranked sixth in the state, Boyd said ball security and execution will be critical.
“We certainly can’t turn it over five times,” Boyd said. “We can’t beat ourselves, that’s the big thing. If we can do that and tackle well on defense we can hang in there. If we can keep it close you don’t ever know, that’s why they play the game.”
No. 7 Riverside (6-4) at No. 2 Northampton (9-1)
The Knights have come on in the latter portion of the season as they have won three straight games and coach Asim McGill is hoping that the added confidence will payoff tonight when they face a Jaguars team that won the Tar-Roanoke Conference and is coming off a 35-28 victory over Southeast Halifax.
“Momentum is big,” McGill said. “Everybody is starting to feel good about themselves and the confidence is up and the spirits are up at practice.”
Riverside, who finished the regular season with a 42-28 victory over South Creek, will face a Northampton team that played Plymouth earlier this year and trailed only 16-0 heading into the fourth quarter before some miscues led to its 32-2 defeat.
Vikings’ coach Robert Cody praised the physicality of the Jaguars and McGill concurred.
“Against Plymouth they trailed 16-0 in the fourth quarter and had the ball inside the five-yard line three times and fumbled,” McGill said. “Cody’s right, there a good team and they remind you of the Oklahoma Sooners of the 80s under Barry Switzer. They’re going to get into double tights, wishbone and run right at you. The big question is can you stop them.”
The Jaguars have three backs that have tallied over 600 yards this season as Northampton averages 271 rushing yards and 45 points per game.
The Knights will counter with an extremely balanced spread attack that posts 152 passing and 159 rushing yards per game and is led by fullback Jadarian Brown who has 906 rushing yards and 10 TDs.
“The key is going to be who imposes their will,” McGill said. “It’s a spread team versus a team that’s going to run right at you. If you can get up by a few touchdowns it makes them do things they don’t want to do and we want to get them out of doing what they want to do.”