With Reidsville off courtesy of their bye week – McMichael, Morehead and Rockingham will have the stage to themselves this Friday night. Last week was a mixed bag for the county teams. Reidsville bounced back with an impressive 45-14 win over Mount Airy as did Rockingham with a 37-7 win over McMichael. The Phoenix and Morehead both struggled again however, and will get a shot at one another this coming Friday. It will be a county grudge match with perhaps the season on the line for both teams.
Morehead (0-2, 2-4) at McMichael (0-2, 0-6)
Playoff implications are on the line this week when Morehead pays a visit to McMichael on Friday night. Due to both schools reclassification from a 3A program to a 2A school earlier this year, the Mid-State 3A Conference shifted to a 2A-3A split league.
Since the Phoenix and Panthers are the only two 2A members, the winner will receive an automatic bid to the post season regardless of their record when the last bell sounds on Nov. 8.
Both head coaches, Morehead’s Lin Stadler and McMichael’s Daniel Bradford said earlier this season they hoped it wouldn’t come down to being a sub .500 team depending on one game to make or break their post season hopes, but currently, that’s the situation.
McMichael is winless, and aside from this week’s game, the Phoenix have little hope of sweeping their remaining schedule to get into the playoffs, so this may be their last chance. Despite their 0-6 record, McMichael is not a bad football team. They are just young and prospects look brighter a year or two down the road, but that doesn’t make what the Phoenix are experiencing currently any easier.
In last Friday’s 37-7 loss to Rockingham, McMichael was unable to run the ball effectively. That, combined with the lack of a passing game, which has been a problem all season, were the primary factors in the outcome. Bad field position didn’t help either, but Bradford’s boys did play better in the second half and the coach said that was a good sign.
“Offensively we were able to make some adjustments that are helping us. Helping us spread the ball and get more guys out of the box. I think that helped us in the second half. I think we were more competitive in the second half. I think injuries have caused us to have to make some adjustments offensively. Defensively, the young bucks are starting to buy-in and they are starting to get into the scheme of things. Offensively we started two seniors and a junior. Defensively we started three seniors and the rest were freshmen and sophomores. It’s a young buck team and they fought hard all night long and I’m super proud of them,” Bradford said.
Similarly, Morehead experienced some growing pains and had some self-inflicted wounds that contributed in their 30-14 loss to Western Alamance last week.
The Warriors are a good team, one of the best in the league, so the Panthers knew they were going to have their hands full last week.
Morehead stalled and came away empty on a couple of occasions versus the Warriors, and three interceptions proved costly.
The Panthers were solid on the ground, racking up 241 yards on 36 carries, but a 2 of 11 passing attempts to completion ratios for just 16 yards didn’t further the Panthers cause.
If the Panthers would have been able to put some points on the board in the two fruitless red zone trips, and eliminated turnovers, it could have been a different game.
“I think we played much better than we did last week. We’ve got a huge game versus McMichael next week and it has playoff implications and we are healthy, so hopefully if somebody doesn’t do anything stupid this week then we can come away with a win and that will take some of the pressure off of us,” Stadler said.
On a positive note, the Panthers closed strong with a 10 play, 80 yard drive culminating with quarterback Johnny Dalton’s touchdown run and subsequent 2-point conversion.
There were a few other bright spots including Ja’Ron Cannon’s 84 yards on 13 carries. In addition, Ja’quan Cannon broke free on a 72 yard run for a touchdown.
“We did run the ball well against a tough, physical defense. Our defense continues to play tough. Except for the 90 yard drive, all of Western’s scoring drives were the result of short fields and came after a turnover and the blocked punt. I thought we played hard in a physical football game,” Stadler said.
Rockingham (1-1, 2-4) versus Northeast Guilford (1-1, 4-2)
This could be a make or break week for the Cougars if they hope to make the playoffs this season. Cougars head coach Brad Baker won’t have his squad looking any farther ahead than this week’s matchup with Mid-State 3A Conference foe Northeast Guilford, but this might be a game Rockingham truly needs to pad their resume when post season selection time comes around.
Currently at .500 in league play, and two games under at 2-4 overall, what Rockingham needs is a marquee victory. Northeast Guilford would most certainly fit that mold. If the Rams stay on their current trajectory, they are a post season lock, so a Cougars win would look good on their record. Last week Rockingham snapped a four game losing streak with a 37-7 win over McMichael.
It will be a test for sure. Northeast Guilford is coming off a 35-21 win over Northern Guilford and an Earl Bates coached team always plays tough. The Rams only two losses were to good teams. The first, a 28-16 loss to Eastern Guilford on Aug. 23 followed by a 42-28 affair to undefeated Eastern Alamance (6-0) on Sept. 27.
Last week Rockingham finally was able to put a complete game together with a solid rushing and passing attack.
Rockingham senior quarterback Mason Denny had one of his best days of his career with a solid 10 of 13 for 138 yards and three touchdown exhibition. He hooked up with junior wide receiver Dylan Apple on all three TD passes on sideline routes. Apple closed out the night with six receptions for 92 yards.
Baker said when both phases of the game, rushing and passing working, his team always stands a chance.
“I don’t know if you can pinpoint it on one thing, but our offense just clicked tonight. It’s finally hopefully all coming together. Offensively, defensively, the whole nine yards – I thought we did a good job all the way around,” Baker said.