It’s not only the final regular season county rivalry week for two teams, but also a Friday night with a conference title on the line for another.
Rockingham will hit the road to close out against cross-county rival Morehead on Senior Night in Eden. Meanwhile, McMichael’s probably got the toughest assignment off the four county teams all as they hit the road to go up against undefeated Eastern Alamance. As for Reidsville, they look to add the first of what they hope will be several trophies to their mantle as they get ready for the playoffs. Here’s a look at what’s on deck for Nov. 8:
Reidsville (3-0, 9-1) at Bartlett Yancey (2-1, 9-1)
A Mid-State 2A regular season conference tournament title is on the line as Reidsville seeks to not only clinch a championship, but possibly secure home field post season advantage for the first several rounds of the playoffs when the Rams hit the road to take on Bartlett Yancey this Friday night.
It’s the first time in recent memory that Reidsville has this much at stake as far as a conference regular season championship on the line. History is on the Rams side though. So far, no one in the conference has really challenged Reidsville. In their three Mid-State 2A Conference games this season, the Rams have already outscored Carrboro, Graham and Cummings by a combined 159-0 margin.
Reidsville has won the last seven conference regular season championships and the Rams have not lost to a league opponent since 2011. Cummings was the last one to do it when they defeated RHS 21-20 in overtime that year, but since that time, Reidsville has had the conference on lockdown.
They are likely going to have to play better than last Friday’s 34-0 win over the Cavaliers however to lock up the title this season.
Even though it was a shutout, and a seemingly easy win on paper, RHS head coach Jimmy Teague said there were too many miscues, penalties and a lack of attention to details on execution to suit he and the Rams — and with the playoffs just a little more than a week away, that needs to change if they hope to get back to the state championship game for the fourth-consecutive season.
Bartlett Yancey’s only blemish thus far was a 13-0 loss to Cummings on Oct. 11. The Buccaneers looked strong last week in a 42-6 win over Carrboro on Nov. 1. Reidsville defeated Carrboro by a similar 50-0 margin on Oct. 18.
Considering not only pride, in addition to bragging rights in a rivalry game for a championship are all on the line — it should be a packed and likely rowdy house on Friday night in Yanceyville.
If BY wins, they will be outright champions since they would tie Reidsville with a 3-1 record after winning the head-to-head matchup. Otherwise the crown belongs to the Rams.
Morehead (1-5, 3-7) versus Rockingham (1-5, 2-8)
Similar to the Rams and Bucs, there is pride on the line when county rivals Morehead and Rockingham go head-to-head this Friday night in Eden. Both have had similar seasons that haven’t quite lived up to expectations so far.
One silver lining to a guaranteed sub .500 regular season finish for the Panthers is that they have locked up a playoff spot courtesy of their win over fellow 2A Mid-State split conference member McMichael. The Phoenix are 0-10 and lost in the head-to-head game versus Morehead, so they have locked up the spot courtesy of being the 2A winner. It’s an automatic bid, but head coach Lin Stadler said he doesn’t want to limp into the playoffs at 3-8 and that’s exactly one of the things on the line when they take on Rockingham this week.
“You need some momentum going into the playoffs and we’ve got a home game. It is senior night and a rivalry game. We know that they are going to play hard and are well coached. It was a nail-biter over there last year and I expect it’s going to be similar again this coming week. I don’t know if it’s any more emotional thinking about next week,” he said last week.
“I’m still trying to digest this one, but we are going to have to come in Monday and be ready to have a good week of practice. We can’t make the same kind of mistakes that we did tonight or it could be a similar outcome,” Stadler said after last week’s 36-12 loss on the road at Northern Guilford.
As is the case with the majority of teams this time of year, injuries are an issue for both teams. Perhaps the biggest question mark for Morehead this week is the unknown status of quarterback Johnny Dalton. He had to leave the Northern Guilford game at halftime after suffering an injury to his ribs. Dalton did not return and had to go to the hospital for X-rays and his status is day-to-day.
Similarly, Rockingham has been bitten by the injury bug as well.
Rockingham was dealt a tough hand from the get-go. Lucas Wilson tore his ACL in a preseason scrimmage and never played a down. Then offensive linemen Blake Hammett and Todd Jones were lost for the season as well. In addition, Rockingham has had eight guys miss playing time in 2019 the season, but Cougars head coach Brad Baker said it is what it is. He says no matter the breaks, he’s got to put a team on the field, and for the seniors in particular, this is it.
“Our message this week is to go out and play hard. For our seniors, this is going to be the last time they wear a Cougars jersey and we want them to go out there and leave everything on the field against a quality opponent and a big rival. Everybody remembers your last game and you want to go out with a win. When you come back for your reunion, things like that, you want to come back with a positive memory, so we are going to do everything that we can to make it a positive memory to try win the football game,” Baker said.
Add to the mix, there is a lot more to the rivalry given Stadler’s history with the Cougars. Stadler got his start as a head coach in 2002 at Rockingham. He was the head man at RCHS until the 2014 season before stepping down to take the athletic director position, but he later admitted coaching was what he really wanted to do and he threw his hat back into the ring when he took the job at Morehead in 2016.
Baker says he knows that rivalry games, especially in the regular season finale, it always takes on a little more significance.
“Our motto is to go 1-0 after every game. We don’t care who we play. We just care about how we play, but its human nature, not only for teenagers, but for everybody to want to beat your rival. You see them in the off season at restaurants, at the gas station, so yeah, it has some more meaning. You always want to beat a county rival. He’s (Stadler) going to say the same thing. You want to win every game and of course that doesn’t always happen. But there is a lot on the line when you are playing a rival,” said Baker.
McMichael (0-6, 0-10) at Eastern Alamance (6-0, 10-0)
Going up against an undefeated, and league leading Eastern Alamance, who just took down another top dog in Western Alamance 42-7 last week — prospects don’t look good for McMichael as they prepare for a road trip to Eagle country in the regular season finale Nov. 8.
Northeast Guilford blanked the Phoenix by a 60-0 margin last week. McMichael’s main problem all season has been youth and a lack of experience. The Phoenix will likely want to look at this season as motivating the young players to right the ship in 2020, but before they can look to the future, they are probably going to have to endure another rough Friday night when a highly talented Eagles team, who is peaking at the right time, will likely look to make a statement in their regular season finale.