Aces, Eagles continue playoffs today
Both teams look to reach east regional finals
By Craig Moyer
Friday, November 24, 2017
Just two wins away from a trip to a state championship game, John A. Holmes and Northeastern both face tough challenges today as they look to continue their quests for a state title.
The Aces and Eagles are both set to host games in the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state playoffs today at 7:30 p.m.
The No. 2 seed Aces host No. 6 seed Lakewood in the 1AA state playoffs, while the No. 1 seed Eagles host No. 5 seed Wallace-Rose Hill at the 2A level.
The 2A contest pits two teams who have been dominant at their levels over the past decade, as the Eagles have been a force at the 2AA and 2A levels, while the Bulldogs have ruled the 1AA and 1A levels.
Over the last 10 seasons, Wallace-Rose Hill has five state titles and has made the east regional final seven times.
The Bulldogs won three-straight 1AA state titles before moving up to the 2A level for the playoffs this season.
Northeastern (13-0) has made the playoffs the last seven seasons, reaching the east final three times and the state title game once.
Northeastern head coach Antonio Moore knows Wallace-Rose Hill (11-1) is a tough opponent and very experienced with big games in the playoffs.
“They are very physical, very experienced and they have been there before, which makes them a very dangerous team,” Moore said.
The game pits two high-powered offenses against two shut-down defenses, as the two sides have combined to outscore their opponents 188-3.
Both offenses rely on multiple different threats, as each team has two players who have rushed for over 1,000 yards on the season.
For the Eagles, that is Dallas Hall with 1,194 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Traveon Freshwater has rushed for 1,803 yards and 22 scores.
Wallace-Rose Hill’s Javonte Williams has rushed for 1,633 yards and 21 scores, while teammate Desmond Newkirk has run for 1,316 yards and has reached the end zone 20 times on the ground.
Moore said going up against a powerful offense with many threats, he does not expect to completely shut them down, but wants to limit their big plays.
“Defensively we can’t shut down an offense as powerful as theirs, but we need to keep a bend but not break mentality and be in the right place at the right time”
The match up in Edenton also pits two very talented offenses against two stifling defenses.
Offensively, Edenton (11-2) has scored 40 ore more points in 11 of their 12 games this season, while allowing 20 or less in the same 11 games.
The only outlier is their 41-20 loss to Northeastern Sept. 22, as the Aces have outscored their opponents 336-56 in their six games since their only loss of the season.
Lakewood (11-2) has shut out their opponents seven times this season, while scoring 40 or more points in seven of their games.
Going up against a stout defense, John A. Holmes head coach Paul Hoggard said his team’s offense must scheme against what the Leopards throw at them defensively.
“It will come down to our reads on the option and our ability to block on the perimeter,” Hoggard said. “They are really good on the perimeter, so it is going to be a great test for us.”
Coming off a bye week in the opening round of the playoffs, Hoggard said his team was a little bit rusty early on in their round two game against Manteo.
“Having to take a week off was tough, but this week we need to be ready to play, it is going to be a tough game and we will need to play well,” Hoggard said.
One thing both coaches stressed ahead of their third round games is the importance of avoiding turnovers.
Moore said in big games, like the one is team faces tonight, avoiding turnovers is crucial in order to be successful.
“We need to match their physical play, limit the turnovers and execute,” Moore said.
Coming off two turnovers in their round two win over Manteo, the Aces head coach knows against a tough opponent like Lakewood, turnovers can be the difference in the game.
“Offensively, we can’t have any turnovers,” Hoggard said.
The winners of each game will advance to the east regional final at their respective levels on Dec. 1.