Reidsville and Southeast Guilford will be playing at home Friday night in NCHSAA football regional championship games. We talked with a coach who saw Cleveland and Southeast Guilford and two coaches who faced Brevard and Reidsville this year about what to look for in their matchups. Here's what they said:
CLASS 3-AA EAST, NO. 4 CLEVELAND (12-2) at NO. 2 SOUTHEAST GUILFORD (13-1)
When Cleveland has the ball: "Cleveland makes big plays. … They don’t necessarily put long drives together, they just find a way to make that big play. Their quarterback (Darius Ocean) is very accurate, and the running back (Tyson Dew) has good vision, good cutback ability, he can break some tackles. ... Ultimately, it’s eliminate the big play and get that running back to the ground."
When Southeast has the ball: "It’s a good matchup for Southeast because, with (Ryan) Douglas at quarterback, they can do what they do and run with him. I’m not saying it’s a pushover game by any means, but Southeast has a really good chance."
Special teams: "Cleveland is going to onside-kick that ball. They do it a lot. They have a good kicker (Wyatt Covey) and he does a good job of popping it up on the bounce and pooching it, and the kid can also kick it through the end zone. Being aware of that will be a key point to the game."
Overall: "It’s a good matchup for Southeast. Up front they’re bigger and that’s where they can handle them, because Cleveland isn’t overly big. Now, they play hard, but I just think Southeast up front on both sides of the ball will do well there.”
CLASS 2-A WEST, NO. 8 BREVARD (11-3) at NO. 2 REIDSVILLE (14-0)
When Brevard has the ball: "Brevard is a very explosive team, good quarterback (Mitchell Johnson), a very well-coached team. ... They’ve got two good threats at wideout, with Breylan Owens and Luke Ellenberger. I think Ellenberger is one of the best in the state. ... Brevard has a running back (Anthony Fields) who runs very well, they have a quarterback who can throw the ball and they have a couple of receivers who can go up and make catches, make plays. ... Brevard can hit some bubble (screens) off the run game and have some success there. ... (Reidsville was) very physical on defense."
When Reidsville has the ball: "(Brevard is) very good defensively up front. That group is very dynamic. ... They are big, they are fast, they’re very strong and physical coming off the edge and trying to prevent you from getting outside. If I’m Brevard, I’m looking to shut down Travion Canada. To me, he’s one of the best runners I’ve seen all year. They’ll probably focus on him and try to eliminate the big play. Reidsville has a lot of speed, and when their athletes get the ball in space it was a like a track team in football gear. ... Your secondary has to play really well when you face Reidsville. They’re going to power-read at you and things like that, so your secondary has to be part of defending the run game. When that happens, they have weapons that can hurt you. If the quarterback makes those plays and they hit them, you just have to tip your hat."
Special teams: "The special-teams games should be very similar. If you kick it deep and it's short of the end zone, though, Reidsville has some athletes who can score from anywhere on the field. That’s definitely a threat. … There was no way we were kicking deep."
Overall: "Both teams are going to have a really hard time running on each other. Whoever makes the plays in the passing game has the advantage. ... The thing about Reidsville is even if you do everything you set out to do against them, they have that many athletes, that many weapons. All it takes is three or four plays for them. … You’ve got to make it a tight game, which they haven’t done all year other than Morehead (a 21-13 win), and then they’ll probably still get you. … At Reidsville, there’s a lot of pride and tradition and I think they’ll have a significant home-field advantage. ...If I was picking, it’s awfully hard to win in Reidsville. ... It could be a low-scoring affair with whomever makes the fewest mistakes and can execute better and win one-on-one matchups heading on to the state championship game.”