Conley highlights season opening game of the week
By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector
Thursday, August 22, 2019
The beginning of the 2019-20 football season is finally upon us, and with it is a slate of interesting matchups in Week One. Fans will finally get their first look at new faces on the roster, and see how returning upperclassmen have improved over the summer. Take a look at the matchups ahead of tonights season openers along with the first Game of the Week of the year. (NOTE: D.H. Conley at Northeaster has been moved to Thursday due to incoming severe weather. Ayden-Grifton has also pushed up its start time Friday to 6 p.m..)
Greene Central (0-0) at South Central (0-0)
Last seasons Week One meet up between these two area teams lead to an exciting finish, which saw the Falcons narrowly escape with a four-point win. This season, both teams enter the year with new challenges.
SC is adjusting after graduating a highly skilled 22-man senior class led by now-ECU tight end Jeremy Lewis. After taking over starting quarterback duties before Week Two last season, senior Justin Humphries is ready to begin the season with plenty of new starters. Humphries will have familiar names snapping him the ball (senior center George Ayino) and in the backfield (senior running back Kevone Harris). Head coach Andy Tew admitted that the challenges his team would face this season would be more difficult, but he has a plan to help continue his squads success.
GC, now under the leadership of first-year head coach Jason Wilson, is looking to continue success of its own. The Rams have not missed the playoffs in six seasons, placing high expectations on a young team. Running back Knowledge Branch will lead the offense with his experience, looking to help new starting quarterback, junior Cole Dawson. Senior outside linebacker Quintavious Horne shuld play a big role in leading the defensive unit.
Southside (0-0) at Ayden-Grifton (0-0)
Last season A-G got off to a hot start, easily downing Southside in a 61-0 blowout on the road. This season will be slightly different, as the Chargers bring in a fresh face at quarterback in junior Josh Wright, and without graduated running back Ray Darden.
Will head coach Paul Cornwell open the taps for Wright to throw the ball early in the season? He has said he wants to allow Wright to take shots downfield, and an early test could allow fans to see how the adjustment will impact the offensive scheme, though continue to expect plenty of work from running backs such as Marlon Cannon and Kevin Boomer, both of which are back for their junior seasons.
The Chargers offensive unit will have to contend with a very experienced defensive unit for the Seahawks, including seniors David Albritton, Quntie Peele and Connor Curlings, all of which will be looking to take down Wright from the defensive line.
Kinston (0-0) at Farmville Central (0-0)
The Eddie Rhodes era of Farmville Central football will begin tonight, as he returns to the sidelines for the first time since 1997, when he was on the sidelines coaching DHC.
The game will also be the first chance for fans to see freshman quarterback Brandon Knight, who won the job after last years starter, Tavyon Suggs, moved to running back. The change also brings about, like rival A-G, a projected increase in pass attempts this season, though the transition to varsity high school football will bring growing pains for Knight and the offense. On defense the Jaguars are now without ECU defensive tackle Keziah Everette, leaving a spot for someone to step up and take the spotlight.
Kinston will come back with a highly talented and experienced roster, which will make FC a large underdog to open the season.
Fike (0-0) at J.H. Rose (0-0)
Friday will kick off the third consecutive season with a Jarman at quarterback. Wade Jarman is the last of his families name at JHR, and the junior dual-threat quarterback looks fully prepared to take over where his brother, Grant Charles, left off.
Rampants head coach Dave Wojtecki has stated his excitement for Jarman's ability to break from the pocket. Jarman will have plenty of help on the ground from his running backs, senior Shaquan Perry and sophomore Micheal Allen. Jarman has said he has created a strong relationship with junior wide receiver Kevin Hamilton. Hamilton could be next in line to replace last years top receiver Ben Harris, which makes the Rose offense a threat to run or pass at any moment.
Fike, which received a postseason ban after fighting at the end of the season due a confrontation with rival Hunt, finished 4-6 last season. The Demons come into the season with an experienced roster, and juniors itching to rewrite the narrative on their program and create their own name as seniors. Rose should have the advantage when things get going Friday evening.
Washington (0-0) at North Pitt (0-0)
North Pitt has shown growth over the offseason, as head coach Greg Watford's young core returns mostly intact from last season. Led by quarterback Alex-Espinosa Johnson and running back/nose guard Raheem Jones, the Panthers face another very difficult schedule that includes Kinston, East Wake and SouthWest Edgecombe. Every game will be a tough test for NP starting with the Pam Pack.
Watford reported that many of his players saw a large jump in muscle after summer workouts. The growth should prove valuable in NP's physical and hard hitting triple option offense. On defense, Watford also said he is hoping to have Espinosa-Johnson pick up more duties at linebacker as the season progresses. Espinosa-Johnson had spent all of his football career at linebacker before arriving at NP. HE also spent a small amount of time on defense last season.
Washington, like NP, is looking to rebound after a disappointing 4-7 season last year. Antwone Godley returns for his final season at quarterback, and is looking to keep his momentum from last year going.
The Pam Pack will have the advantage in experience, but an improved Panthers team has the chance to pull off an upset if it can manage the ball and the clock.
GAME OF THE WEEK: D.H. Conley (0-0) at Northeastern (0-0)
Another Week One rematch will take place in Elizabeth City as the Vikings travel to face the Eagles. Both sides will be missing their top players from a season ago, both of which are now with the East Carolina program in CJ Johnson and Traveon Freshwater.
This will be the first test for Conley senior quarterback Nick Hamilton to figure out who will become his top receiver in a live game setting. Hamilton said he has faith in all of his receivers, and expects seniors such as Matthew Rostar and Charlie Dees step up. Hamilton put on nearly 20-pounds of muscle in the offseason, and now has a full grasp of head coach Nate Conners offense from day one. Defensively expect a strong start from Panda Askew, who has impressed during the summer on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Northeastern will counter with Freshwater's younger brother, Kaveon, who lines up at defensive tackle and running back. Kaveon's talent has made the rounds around the eastern part of the state, as some claim he could possibly surpass his brother in talent, high expectations for a young sophomore.
Contact Jake Keator at email@example.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.