The Perquimans football players probably haven’t had much interest in sulking about last Friday’s 38-14 loss to Gates County.
After all, this is Edenton Week.
Knowing they’ll be taking on the Aces at Edenton Friday night virtually guaranteed the Pirates (2-1) would be looking ahead, not back, during practice.
“It’s our Michigan-Ohio State game,” said Perquimans coach T.J. Worrell. “Our kids get excited. I get excited. It doesn’t matter what the records are or who has what players. It’s always a battle because of the rivalry.”
The battle will be a conducted a little differently this time, however. Since Wes Mattera is in his first season as the head coach at Edenton, Worrell can’t expect to see the usual Aces’ offense and defense.
“It’s definitely going to be different,” Worrell said. “They’ll be using a different defense. They’ll be running more of a spread offense.
“I expect they’ll run right at us, but it will be a change of pace from what we’ve seen the last two weeks. They’ll come at us from different formations, with a different look. They also have the capability of throwing the ball real well.
“I’ve been impressed with how well they’ve played defensively, too.”
Solving Edenton’s defense may well be the key to the game. In the loss to Gates, the Pirates generated only 142 yards in total offense, minus-5 yards in the second half. The result was that the Perquimans defense was on the field most of the night and was worn down by the visitors, who piled up 394 yards in total offense and scored 24 unanswered points in the second half after the two teams played to a 14-14 tie at the half.
“What happened was we couldn’t sustain a drive in the second half and our defense wound up on the field for about 40 plays,” Worrell said. “That makes it really hard. Physically, they just wore us down.
“We’ve got to do better on offense, running the football. We’re a running football team. We may throw for touchdowns, but we’ve got to be able to run the ball between the 10s. We’ve got to block better and execute.”
There were some flashes Friday night. Quarterback Cody Saunders, who also threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Mikel Harvey, converted a brilliant option read into a 48-yard touchdown run and Rashawn Staten had 74 yards on 11 carries.
Part of the problem was in the offensive line, where new roles for most of the guys in the trenches and two-way duty for several of them caused inconsistency.
“We’ve got three returning starters in the line, but they’re all playing different positions there,” Worrell said. “We’ve got two new tackles who played some last year, but getting that trust between them about how we’re going to pick up this scheme or that scheme isn’t there yet.
“Two guys start on defense, too. I don’t like starting offensive linemen on defense because it’s real tough to stay in the game mentally. It takes a special talent to play in the offensive line and what happens is when something goes bad on defense, they can lose their focus. They can’t always turn the page fast enough to put it behind them.”
While the Pirates’ offensive play against Gates was disappointing, Worrell thought the defense executed its gameplan most of the night — but was sabotaged by the number of plays it had to defend — and special teams took a step forward.
“Special teams were much improved,” Worrell said. “We punted the ball very well and A.J. Felton had two long kickoff returns. We had challenged the kids not to make mental mistakes and to win the battle of field position and I think they did that.”
Felton’s most impressive return, a 92-yarder for an apparent touchdown to open the game, was called back because of a penalty.
Pirates (2-1) at Edenton (1-2), 7:30 p.m.