Whiteville might think it faces a mirror image in East Duplin when they face off in the fourth round of the 2-A State Playoffs on Friday night.
Both teams performed dramatically, coming from behind and playing a similar style of football.
“Close games,” said Whiteville coach JP Price. “That’s expected at this point in the playoffs.”
There are also many family and friendship angles.
Battle Holley is East Duplin’s trainer. His legendary father, Jack Holley, trained with Price’s father, Joey Price. The elder Holley and the elder Price both won multiple state championships at Wallace-Rose Hill.
“My mom and Battle’s sister went to high school together in Tabor City,” Price said. “Lots of background and family ties.
Then there are the current teams.
“We’re both Wing-T, No-Huddle,” Price said. “They are a physical football team. Very well trained in the basics. They fly around in defense. They are a very, very good football team.”
Whiteville (12-1) staged a furious rally to beat Hertford County 25-24 after time was up on Grayson Creech’s 30-yard field goal. The Wolfpack trailed 24-7 in the third quarter with 3:35 to go.
East Duplin (12-1) came back twice from two touchdowns to defeat Clinton 28-27. The Panthers held out as Clinton went for the win and failed to convert a two-point conversion.
There won’t be much throwing on Friday night as the wing-T naturally emphasizes the run.
The Panthers had two running backs — Avery Gaby and Nizaya Hall — who rushed for 100 yards against Clinton. Whiteville quarterback Luke Odham had 116 yards on 18 carries.
Whiteville hopes to have fullback/long snapper JT Todd back in the lineup on Friday. Todd twisted an ankle in the first quarter against Hertford County.
“The X-ray was negative,” Price said. “We’re going to hold him off all week and see if we can get him to leave Friday night. … He’s a very important player for us.”
Here’s a look at the remainder of Friday’s fourth round in North Carolina.
Wallace-Rose Hill (11-2) at Princeton (12-1)
The Bulldogs have two 1,000-yard rushers sophomore Irving Brown and junior Corbin Kerr. Brown leads them with 27 touchdowns. … Princeton Reservoir Christian Perris is having a spectacular season with 3,198 yards and 47 touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior carried 33 times for 495 yards and 7 TDs last week. It’s not their only weapon. Brandon Turner has 1,787 yards and 22 CDs.
Virgo (12-1) to Reidsville (12-1)
The visiting Blue Devils can throw and execute it. Quarterback Wesley Thompson has 3,597 yards and 42 TDs against 7 interceptions. His primary target is North Carolina recruit Chris Culliver, who has 78 catches for 1,764 yards and 25 TDs. Tailback Ben Gibbs has 1,647 yards and 23 TDs rushing. … Reidsville has a balanced offense with over 2,000 yards on both running and receiving. Quarterback Al Lee has thrown for 1,856 yards and 26 TDs against 6 interceptions. Flip Flippen is the top receiver with 44 catches for 729 yards and 10 TDs. A freshman, Dionte Neal, has 43 receptions for 691 yards and 9 TDs. Neal is also one of the top defensemen in the state with 12 interceptions.
Monroe (12-1) at Burns (12-1)
Monroe quarterback Khamoni Robinson has thrown for 2,505 yards and 23 touchdowns with 3 interceptions. He also has seven Rushing TDs. Sophomore receiver Jordan Young has 38 catches for 738 yards and 10 TDs. The best running back is junior Nate Crosby with 1,403 yards and 23 TDs. … Burns QB Ben Mauney has 2,560 yards and 29 TDs with 3 interceptions. The top receiver is senior Ryan Thompson with 52 catches for 702 yards and 9 TDs. Jeremiah Norris has 1,157 yards and 16 TDs on the ground.
Northampton (11-2) at Tarboro (11-1)
Northampton QB Anthony Harding is bruised at 6ft-1 and 250lbs. He has 1,770 yards and 21 TDs rushing while also throwing 10 touchdown passes. …Tarboro, the defending champion, has two 1,000-yard rushers in Mason Satterfield and freshman Kamerin McDowell-Moore.
Rosewood (9-4) at North Moore (13-0)
Rosewood has won eight straight games from a 1-4 start. Wyatt Lassiter has six interceptions. North Moore was once one of North Carolina’s least successful programs. No longer. The Mustangs have two 1,000-yard rushers in Jakarey Gillis and Kolby Ritchie. They don’t throw much, but 6-foot-5, 240-pound student Colby Pennington has 12 catches for 253 yards and 7 TDs.
Draughn (12-1) at Andrews (13-0)
Draughn QB EJ Tilley has 1,965 yards and 28 TDs with 4 interceptions. Nigel Dula rushed for 1,216 yards and 21 TDs. … Andrews two-way star Isaac Weaver has 1,147 yards and 19 TDs rushing along with 10 interceptions. Austin Martin rushed for 1,009 yards and 17 TDs. The Wildcats were 7-4 last season.
Mount Airy (12-1) at Eastern Randolph (11-1)
Tyler Mason has 1,531 yards and 34 touchdowns en route to Mount Airy. … Eastern Randolph has won 11 straight games after opening the season with a loss. Ervodd Cassady had 20 rushes for 141 yards and 3 touchdowns, including the game winner when the Wildcats held Robbinsville 29-26.
Triton (8-5) at Northern Nash (13-0)
Triton is the surprise of the playoffs after going 4-5 into the final week of the regular season. The Hawks have six running backs with 600+ yards. Javon Cowan has 798 yards and 17 TDs. Quarterback Jalen Evans has thrown 10 TD passes and has 10 TDs in the rushing. …
Northern Nash QB Keno Jones has thrown for 1,922 yards and 29 touchdowns against 4 interceptions. Randall King is a big-play receiver with 28 catches for 799 yards and 13 TDs.
Terry Sanford (11-2) at Seventy-First (13-0)
This for the Fayetteville City Championship. The teams are in different conferences and have not played in the regular season. Terry Sanford QB Dante Garcia has thrown for 2,890 yards and 29 TDs with 4 interceptions. Patrick Shook has 52 catches for 926 yards and 10 TDs. Johnathan Higgins-Simmons has 804 yards and 10 TDs rushing along with 4 TD catches. … The seventy-first jam Anthony Quinn, Jr. has 2,072 rushing yards and 26 TDs. …Jayden Shotwell has 1,218 yards and 13 TDs.
East Lincoln (13-0) at Kings Mountain (13-0)
A fight between two heavyweights, although Kings Mountain were almost upset by West Charlotte with six wins last week. … East Lincoln QB Tyler Mizzell had a great season throwing for 2,184 yards and 33 TDs with 4 interceptions. He’s also rushed for 577 yards and 14 TDs.
Markell Clark has 53 catches for 689 yards and 15 TDs. Christopher Daley II has 1,375 yards and 16 TDs in the rushing. … Kings Mountain QB Lamont Littlejohn has 2,107 yards and 18 TDs with 8 interceptions. He has thrown TD passes to eight receivers. Teddy Jeffries has 1,042 yards and 19 TDs rushing. Curtis Simpson has 22 sacks and Bryson Brown has 6 interceptions.
East Guilford (9-4) at South Point (12-1)
Eastern Guilford are here after surprising No. 2 West Henderson 35-17. A pair of fumble returns for TDs broke it up. Quarterback Tyreik Boyd has thrown for 1,798 yards and 24 TDs with 3 interceptions. Jaiden Evans has 1,510 yards and 24 TDs in the rushing. Sophomore receiver Steven Murray has 35 catches for 668 yards and 11 TDs. … South Point freshman quarterback Patrick Blue has rushed for 1,392 yards and 18 TDs. He also has 10 TD passes. Cam Medlock has 1,703 yards and 31 TDs in the rush.
Millbrook (12-1) at Hillside (12-1)
Millbrook quarterback Mason Fortune has led a massive aerial charge with 3,659 yards and 37 touchdowns. .. The top receiver is Nathan Leacock with 73 catches for 1,066 yards and 23 TDs. Xavier Pugh rushed for 913 yards and 19 TDs. … Hillside quarterback Wilson Kargbo has 2,219 yards and 33 TDs through the air. Two recipients – Tahir Henry and Khalik Johnson – have double-digit TD receipts. … Jimmyll Williams has 2,258 yards and 23 TDs in the rushing.
Rolesville (10-3) at New Bern (13-0)
Rolesville second QB Braeden Atkinson has 1,576 yards and 19 TDs through the air. The Rams have two 1,000-yard runners — Isiah Jones and Devon Thomas. … New Bern jam Arone Herring has 1,464 yards and 19 TDs, including a 99-yarder. Jayden Wallace has 1,183 yards and 15 TDs. Quarterback Damaree Tucker has rushed for 909 yards and 11 TDs, along with 6 TD passes. KJ Sampson, obligated at Florida State, has 18 sacks and 35 rushes. Chamir Wright has 7 of the team’s 23 interceptions.
Hough (11-2) at Grimsley (13-0)
Hough quarterback Tad Hudson has 2,364 yards and 21 TDs. Markell Quick has 51 catches for 785 yards and 10 TDs. JT Smith has 939 yards and 14 TDs on the ground. Senior kicker Nolan Hauser is 17-to-20 on field goals for 49 yards. He has 67 touchbacks on 85 kickoffs. … Grimsley quarterback Ryan Stephens has 1,861 yards and 18 TDs with just 2 interceptions. He also has 988 rushing yards and 22 TDs. Sophomore Jam Mitchell Summers has 1,770 yards and 19 TDs rushing. Bryce Davis has 11 sacks.
AC Reynolds (12-1) at Weddington (12-1)
ACR quarterback Hayden Craig has thrown for 1,677 yards and 19 TDs. … sophomore tailnback Max Guest has 1,705 yards and 25 TDs. Cairo Skanes has five interceptions. … Weddington has won 11 in a row since falling 52-32 to NCISAA state champion Providence Day.