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PREVIEW: Chargers on top, Vikings searching for win

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North Pitt's Jakevian Barnes runs the ball during a game against South Central on Sept. 13, 2019.

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By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Friday, September 20, 2019

Area football teams find themselves at different points of their season entering week five. Ayden-Grifton is looking to continue its strong start in Littlefield, while the D.H. Conley Vikings are still looking to pick up their first win in the midst of a tough start to the year. Take a look at this week’s slate of games.

North Pitt (0-3) at Ayden-Grifton (3-0), 7:30 p.m.

The Chargers are off to another hot start this season, as head coach Paul Cornwell has led his team to another 3-0 start. A-G will face a Pitt County opponent for the second straight week, this time the North Pitt Panthers.

The Chargers have shown no issues moving the ball on offense, led by senior wide receiver Michael Webb, whose ability to break plays out wide or in the backfield has played a big role in A-G’s dominance through its first three games.

While it couldn’t topple 4-A opponent South Central last week, NP showed dramatic improvement from the same point in the 2018 season. Quarterback Alex Espinosa-Johnson had his best start, accounting for three total touchdowns, though issues with penalties on defense sank the Panthers chance at pulling the upset. The defense will need to quickly remedy that problem if it wants to try to pull the upset again this week.

D.H. Conley (0-3) at West Carteret (1-2), 7 p.m.

D.H. Conley is coming off one of the toughest three-game stretches in the state, failing to find a win against Northeastern, Rocky Mount and Scotland. The Vikings will face a lower, but still tough team, in West Carteret on the road tonight.

Last season, the Vikings escaped with just an eight-point win against the Patriots, 28-20. This season, DHC is still looking to get its passing game going, as the offense scored just six points against the Fighting Scots last week. Quarterback Nick Hamilton has shown he can throw the ball accurately, and he has shown a strong connection with receiver Leshaun Atchinson, but the ball will need to be distributed more in order to help open the run game for top running back Brock Lasure.

Lasure has a good mix of crafty juke moves and deceptive speed to go with his physical running style. Look for head coach Nate Conner to attempt to get Hamilton going early to establish his team’s momentum.

Farmville Central (0-3) at Greene Central (1-2), 7 p.m.

Last week’s tight 8-6 win led to an emotional moment for Rams head coach Jason Wilson, as it was his first career win as a head coach. His team will look to make it two straight as the Rams host winless Farmville Central.

The Rams offense may have had difficulties moving the ball against Eastern Wayne last week, but they have a more favorable matchup this week. Quarterback Cole Dawson and wide receiver Zakvil Smith have shown that they can push the offense down the field in any situation. The team is also still adjusting to a new touches-by-committee setup at running back after the loss of starter Knowledge Branch.

The Jaguars are still working to find the right formula that will increase team chemistry. FC has relied heavily on running backs Richard Peterson and Donvtavious Short, who returned from injury last week.

The duo has found holes created by a large Jags offensive line. The two will need to work extra hard to attempt to stifle a tough Rams defense.

Hertford County (2-1) at South Central (2-1), 7:30 p.m.

South Central needed a couple of big plays late in the fourth quarter to seal its win over North Pitt last week.

Of note was the athleticism of quarterback Justin Humphries, who moved out to wide receiver in the second half. He ended up with one reception for 68 yards, scoring a touchdown. He also locked down receivers when playing at cornerback on defense. When paired with running back Zyaire Williams, Humphries leads an explosive read-option based offense.

The Falcons defense was beaten by the NP offense after Panthers quarterback Espinosa-Johnson faked the run and elected to pass, so head coach Andy Tew will look to work with his teams secondary to help limit big plays this week.

Parrott Academy (2-2, 2-0) at John Paul II (1-2, 0-2), 7 p.m.

After an explosive first game, the Saints have dropped two straight entering the first edition of wha should become and exciting rivalry. 

JP2 has been outscored 68-44 over the past two weeks, and the defense won’t find the Patriots offense to be any easier of a task. 

APA comes in on a two game win streak, and looks to use experience to gain an edge over JP2 in a game that is sure to be high scoring. 

The win could come down to who has the ball last, creating an exciting atmosphere for all in attendance. 

GAME OF THE WEEK: J.H. Rose (2-2) at Southern Nash (4-0), 7 p.m.

Coming off of two straight losses, the Rampants are searching to get back into the win column this week, though it will be difficult against a strong Southern Nash squad.

The team’s typically explosive offense was held scoreless last week against Rocky Mount, leaving Rose to go back to the drawing board and turn this stretch around before head coach Dave Wojtecki returns to the sidelines next week. Wojtecki said he hoped to be back when JHR opens up conference play against New Bern, and it looks as if he will be back in charge at that time.

Quarterback Wade Jarman has shown flashes of how he can break the pocket and turn a broken play into a large gain. When forced to sit in the pocket, however, he has found trouble connecting with any other receiver than Kevin Hamilton.

When the two do get together it typically results in a large chunk of yards or a touchdown.

Running backs Shaquan Perry and Michael Allen have both been effective when on the field, and they can both quickly change the pace of the offensive group. After a tough week, both the offense and defense will need to lock in if the Rampants want to turn the season around.

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.

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Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

High Schools

October 19, 2019

With 36 seconds left, and leading in what had been a back-and-forth offensive shootout, the D.H. Conley defense was looking for one big play to stop Washington and walk away with the win in a late season non-conference contest.

Pam Pack quarterback Antwone Godley took the ball and sprinted right,…

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October 18, 2019

On senior night, the Falcons clinched their first regular season conference title since 2011 with a four-set win (25-16, 24-26, 25-22 and 25-22) over D.H. Conley Thursday.

With this win, South Central (17-0, 12-0 Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A) secured a season sweep of the Vikings. They’ll be the…

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October 18, 2019

Area football teams find themselves in the home stretch of their schedules, and the hunt for conference championships are still wide open. Check out the action packed schedule tonight.

Ayden-Grifton (4-2, 0-2) at South Lenoir (2-5, 0-3), 7 p.m.

The Chargers are looking to quickly end their two-game…

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October 18, 2019

It was a night of celebration at South Central as the school's boys' soccer team recorded a 4-2 win over New Bern on Thursday, earning its first-ever 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference championship.

SC had to shake off a slow start, as the Bears notched a goal each in the first half from Brayden…

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October 17, 2019

The struggles continued for the Ayden-Grifton soccer team Wednesday evening as they fell to 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference leader Washington, 10-1 on senior night.

The Chargers struggled to compete with the Pam Pack, which featured a taller, faster and more experienced roster.

The lone goal for…

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October 15, 2019

The Farmville Central volleyball team walked away celebrating a win and its seniors on senior night Tuesday after the Jaguars defeated Beddingfield 3-1 (24-26, 25-19, 25-14 and 25-19.

The night began with FC (12-7, 6-3) recognizing its four seniors, Abby Foster, Ja'Shyra Carmon, Keyley Shackleford…

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October 15, 2019

Week 8 of the high school football season provided clarity in two local conferences as teams enter the meat of their conference schedules. D.H. Conley walked away with an overtime win over rival J.H. Rose, while Ayden-Grifton stumbled again against 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference leader Washington.…

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October 12, 2019

After a lackluster first half, the Greene Central Rams scored four second-half touchdowns to beat South Lenoir 59-26 on homecoming night on Friday at Greene Central High School.

The Rams improve to 4-3 overall and 1-1 in the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference, while the Blue Devils fall to 2-5 and 0-3…

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October 12, 2019

After a 4-0 start, the last two weeks have not been ideal for Ayden-Grifton football.

The Chargers were doomed by five turnovers in a 37-12 loss to Washington on Friday. The Chargers (4-2, 0-2) were coming off of a 34-21 home loss to West Craven last week.

Paul Cornwell’s team has dealt with…

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October 11, 2019

D.H. Conley and J.H. Rose found themselves tied at 28 following the end of regulation Friday night at Hollywood Crossroads, leading the two bitter rivals to sort it out in overtime.

The Vikings used four plays, capped off by an 8-yard pass from quarterback Nick Hamilton to Chance Brown to take the…

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