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Eagles set to clash with Stallions in 2A East Regional final

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Holden Hodge (left) and the Northeastern defense has only allowed one touchdown during the state playoffs.

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By Malcolm Shields
Sports Editor

Friday, December 7, 2018

There has been increased attention around the Northeastern High School football program the past week.

Along with media outlets from Greenville to Raleigh at the Eagles’ third round state playoff win against Kinston last Friday night, even a photographer from a television station in Hampton Roads made the trek south from Virginia to northeast North Carolina to film a story on the Eagles this week.

Northeastern coach Antonio Moore has been pleased with how his team has handled itself leading up to tonight’s North Carolina High School Athletic Association Class 2A East Regional Final against Southwest Onslow.

“This is a humble group,” Moore said.

Moore added that the team has had good and short practices this week.

The longtime Northeastern coach acknowledged that he hasn’t felt the type of buzz around the team in the area in a few years.

“It’s always a good situation to be playing in December,” he said. “Especially going towards the middle of December. That’s what you ask for. When you start the season, you want to be close to the last one standing. I’m proud of the guys. They’ve been practicing hard. They’re excited and they expect to win.”

The Eagles (13-0), the No. 1 seed in the region, welcome Southwest Onslow (12-2), the No. 6 seed in the region, to Elizabeth City.

The two programs last met in the state playoffs in 2016.

In that contest, the Eagles accumulated more than 500 yards of total offense in a 63-20 win at NHS in the second round of the 2A state playoffs.

The majority of the offensive playmakers on the 2016 Stallions were seniors.

Moore expects to face another experienced group from Southwest tonight.

Southwest Onlsow, which secured the Coastal 8 Conference title this fall, features senior running back BJ Jordan.

In 2016, Jordan was a member of the Heide Trask football program.

He transferred to Onslow before the start of the 2018 campaign.

In one season with the Stallions, the running back, listed at 5-foot-10, 168 pounds, has rushed for more than 2,000 yards.

In Onslow’s 29-20 win against Wallace-Rose Hill in the third round last week, Jordan rushed for more than 200 yards to dethrone the defending 2A state champion Bulldogs.

Southwest Onslow is a run-first offense.

Onslow features a sizable offensive line that has multiple players listed over 6-foot and 250 pounds.

Dharyus Thomas, a senior, is Onslow’s quarterback.

He has thrown for less than 900 yards, but has rushed for nearly 300 rushing yards on the season.

Zachary Dugan is Onslow’s second-leading rusher on the season.

Isaac Anderson leads the Stallions with more than 150 tackles on defense.

The Eagles have been dominate during the state playoffs with back-to-back shutouts with two games scoring 40 or more points.

Northeastern is hosting its first regional final since the 2013 season.

That year, the Eagles lost to Southwest Onslow in the 2A East Regional final.

The Eagles will have to take care of the basics in order to win.

“Limit the turnovers,” Moore said. “In the playoffs, you limit the turnovers [and] cut down on the penalties.”

Moore added that the team will have to fight through adversity.

“It’s going to hit at some point,” he said. “You are going to have a moment in the game when things don’t go right...You just have to keep rolling.”

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