Defense usually dominates early in the season and as Week 2 gets rolling in the area — on Thursday and Friday (thanks to a cable TV broadcast of the Garner-Cleveland game) — it will be interesting to see if that trend continues across the area high school football scene.
The old adage goes that defenses are often playing at a more productive level than offenses this time of year. That was the case again on opening night of the season as Garner, South Johnston, West Johnston, Wake Christian, Corinth Holders and North Johnston’s units were all dominating to some degree in their season-opening wins Friday night.
Corinth Holders posted its second shutout in its home opener (a 21-0 win over Northern Nash), the second ‘0’ the Pirates have put ion the opponents’ scoreboard in the past two seasons.
South Johnston held Franklinton scoreless for three quarters in its 35-7 win. David Carter intercepted two Red Ram passes in the red zone to halt scoring drives.
Garner’s defensive line was one of the units expected to excel in the preseason. The Trojans’ defense didn’t disappoint in the trenches in a 44-13 win over old rival Cary. Garner held the Imps to an average gain of 1.26 yards per rush attempt.
West Johnston held Smithfield-Selma to 60 net yards on offense in its 41-7 victory.
For North Johnston, the Panthers also benefitted from a productive defense’s best friend in the world of 2015 football: a really high-scoring offense. The 63 points the Panthers hung on Louisburg was their highest point total in almost five seasons. (North put up 65 in a win over Princeton on Sept. 10, 2010.)
And Wake Christian held Chatham Central to six points in a 56-6 victory.
The Top Players of Week 1
Caiden Norman, Cleveland Quarterback: Junior threw for three TDs, ran for a 154 yards and passed for 262 in the Rams’ victory over Clayton.
Tony Mack, West Johnston Running Back: Ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns in limited duty in the Wildcats’ win over Smithfield-Selma.
“We started off pretty rough,” Mack said. “But once we learned their defense, the guys on the line were opening up some big holes for us. It was great to score the way we did tonight.”
Kavante Johnson, South Johnston Running Back: Ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns against Franklinton, including seven runs of 10 or more yards.
They Said It
South Johnston coach Hunter Jenks on the opener: “All 48 minutes, they weren’t clean, but our kids played hard and smart for 48 minutes.”
Cleveland quarterback Caiden Norman on his teams’ approach as the Rams get ready to host Garner this week: “Go in practice hard starting Monday, watch our film and keep our heads right.”
West Johnston coach Jimmy Williams: “Our defense was good, but SSS has a young team and they’re learning how to run the wing-T. We’ve got a lot of football ahead of us. We’ve got to work on execution and avoiding mistakes.”
Smithfield-Selma coach Wes Hill: “I hope our boys learned to persevere. We went through some tough times tonight, and that’s what happens in this game. All a coach can do is coach, and the players have to play. Sometimes we pick up the pieces and sometimes we’re there to revel in the glory.”
Michael Held, Mike Potter and Mike Mangan contributed.
Prep Football Week 2:
The Big Three to Watch
Thursday at 7:30: Garner (1-0) at Cleveland (1-0): The Trojans and Rams are both coming off of convincing wins in their openers. The last time these two teams got together in Ram country, it was a battle for the ages (and a 45-44 Cleveland victory). If the 2015 edition of the new rivalry approaches anywhere near that kind of game, you don’t want to miss this one. ... The young Garner squad was flagged 12 times for more than 125 yards against Cary. Half of those infractions resulted in 15-yard chunks of real estate conceded at a time but the Trojans were able to get away with it against the rebuilding Imps. ... Cleveland, coming off of a big 44-20 win over Johnston County rival Clayton in which they amassed over 590 yards of offense, could be a different story this Thursday night as the Rams would appear quite willing to convert those extra downs into extra points. ... "We've got to cut down the mistakes on the silly penalties," Garner coach Thurman Leach said. "We had some bonehead penalties that extended some drives. We've got to minimize our mistakes."
Friday at 7:30 — South Johnston (1-0) at West Johnston (1-0): Both teams were impressive defensively in road wins last week. South Johnston is looking for it first back-to-back wins over the rival Wildcats since 2009-10.
Friday at 7:30 — Clayton (0-1) at Corinth Holders (1-0): The host Pirates are a program on the rise, but one without a victory over their neighbors and most noted rivals to the south (the Comets) in their first four tries. The last two games have been decided by eight points or less.
Friday’s other area games: Midway (1-0) at Princeton (0-0), 7; Nash Central (0-1) at Smithfield-Selma (0-1), 7:30; Trinity Christian (0-0) at Wake Christian (1-0), 7:30; North Johnston (1-0) at Rosewood (0-1), 7
Need an Extra Reason to Get Out and Go to a Game? BBQ and SSS Football: Smithfield-Selma opens its home slate at Tucker Stadium against Nash Central Friday at 7:30. If you’re hungry for football and food, you’re in luck. There will be a BBQ plate sale — with proceeds benefitting the Spartan football team — at the football concession stand from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. the day of the game (Aug. 28). Plates are $8 each and orders of 10 or more can be delivered. To place a delivery order or for more details, call Alison Jones at 919-934-8452.