Smith: Don't Forget Those Gridiron Glue Guys
To the unsung heroes of the football field, your hard work is not in vain.
Many times, the focus is placed toward the players getting the touchdowns, forcing turnovers or making other plays to sustain drives. Earlier this week, I wrote a story about North Lenoir’s Damon Hewitt crushing a school-record 50-yard field goal in the Hawks’ last game, an impressive feat.
Still, props have to go to Jaziah King — Hewitt’s placeholder — and the line who blocked to make it all happen.
The necessity of a good offensive or defensive line can’t be stressed enough. Many games are won in the trenches and while it’s great to have skill players, a line that can’t protect the quarterback or collapse the pocket could be detrimental. Graham Hill and I broadcasted the Bethel Christian-Pungo Christian game, and while Connor Williams had three turnovers for touchdowns, it helped to have guys like Quan Hamilton and Zack Boyd making life difficult for the Raiders. Hurried throws and a failure for Pungo Christian to get a running game established were just as important.
To those on the line, keep handling business. Your efforts are not forgotten, even if they’re not on display on a regular basis.
Now, on to the games this week. Mother Nature has continued to spread contests around, so here’s a slate for Thursday and Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in each contest:
Washington (3-4) at Kinston (7-0)
Senior Night could be another coronation as Vikings coach Ryan Gieselman could get his 53rd win, tying him for the most by a Lenoir County coach with South Lenoir legend Jimmy Smith. The defense has played a pivotal role in the team’s success, especially in the 14-6 win last week against West Craven, but a rested Pam Pack will look to play spoiler. Washington is coming off a bye week after defeating South Lenoir 50-8 on Oct. 10.
West Craven (3-4) at Ayden-Grifton (5-3)
The Chargers bounced back nicely from the loss to Kinston on Oct. 13 with a 35-10 victory over North Lenoir six days later. Ayden-Grifton’s Senior Night certainly won’t be an easy affair with the Eagles coming into town, still stewing over the loss to the Vikings. This match will go a long way in determining the second-best team in the ECC as of now and with the way the teams play, another defensive matchup is possible.
Arendell Parrott (5-3) at Faith Christian (7-1)
It has been a whole six days since these two met in Rocky Mount, but this game is for much larger stakes. In an all-Patriots showdown, APA has a chance to recover from a 43-19 loss on Oct. 19 in the NCISAA 2A semifinals to reach its fifth straight championship game. The Parrott coaching staff is among the best in the state, especially after having the chance to scout an opponent once in the season, but Faith Christian won’t make it easy.
North Lenoir (0-7) at South Lenoir (1-6)
This is the teams’ Super Bowl and there have been plenty of memories in the 35 Braggin’ Bowls preceding this one. The Hawks have won the last eight meetings between the teams, but three of the matches were decided by three points or less, including the 9-6 contest in 2016 the last time the teams played in Deep Run. Both teams need a win badly and getting it to spite a rival would be even better.
Bethel Christian (4-3) at Northeast Academy (6-1)
The Trojans are hoping the third time is the charm against an Eagles team that has had their number this season. Bethel Christian lost 58-34 on Sept. 7 and 54-40 on Oct. 5, but have ripped through its last two opponents by a combined score of 112-30. Northeast will also look to avenge a 34-28 loss in its regular-season finale to Halifax Academy last week, but anything can happen in the NCISAA 1A semifinals.
South Creek (4-4) at Jones Senior (0-6)
The Trojans went to the air against Chocowinity Southside and while the Seahawks still won 45-18, Detorian Brown was able to register 201 passing yards and three touchdowns. Jones Senior will look to keep the momentum going in the team’s first home game since Sept. 6 and in the third game of a four-week, six-contest stretch. Ironman football continues to be the Trojans’ M.O. and here’s to hoping the fans come out.