News-Star: Sports

The Greater Neuse River gets revved up

Clayton’s Eric Hoy (23) churns for yardage against Corinth Holders earlier this season.
Clayton’s Eric Hoy (23) churns for yardage against Corinth Holders earlier this season.

Greater Neuse River 4A Conference play begins Friday across the area with all eight teams in action after taking a week off. Nobody enters league play with a perfect record but there are four 3-1 teams who all appear to have promising futures. Let’s look at Friday’s games and take a look at what we’ve learned about all eight clubs so far.

All of these games kick off at 7 p.m.

East Wake (3-1) at Garner (3-1)

East Wake may be the most tested team there is as far as the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference goes. The Warriors played the defending 4AA eastern regional champions — Wake Forest — to a 27-18 contest, beat Millbrook and turned back two talented young squads in South Johnston and Heritage. Conference play beings with the Warriors visiting perennial favorite Garner in what many tabbed before the season began as the game most likely to directly determine a conference champion.

Both teams have talented returning stars that the other side knows well. East Wake has the bruising Damontay Rhem (137 yards rushing per game) and quarterback Tripp Harrington (809 yards). Garner has Nyheim Hines (170.8 YPG, 11 TDs) leading a group of younger talented playmakers, which East Wake can’t take for granted. .

Watch out for East Wake in the passing game. Harrington can throw to anybody for touchdowns. Five Warriors have at least one TD catch this season, led by Quincy Jackson’s trio of scores.

Defensively, Garner has allowed just 15.5 points a game.

Clayton (3-1) at Harnett Central (1-3)

Clayton has an explosive new offense led by who would have to be considered the most productive player so far this year in quarterback Eric Hoy. Hoy, who played running back last season, has more than 1,200 yards from scrimmage in four games (583 rushing, 640 passing), and has been a part of 17 touchdowns (10 passing 7 rushing) leads a Comet offense averaging right at five touchdowns a game. Junior Blake Joyner is his top target with a 100.8-yard per game average and 4 TD catches. Joyner has also picked up more of the load in the running game of late with Rodney Rowe recovering from an injury.

Defensively, the Comets have found their feet a bit after a wild opening week against Cleveland, giving up just 18 points a game in their last three contests.

Harnett Central is a team that will have an offense to watch in the coming weeks with former South Johnston head coach Joe Salas directing the Trojan offense. Quarterback Jay McNeill and runner Kahlil Dixon pace the Central offense. The Trojans need to improve on defense in conference play. They’ve given up 38.2 a game in their first four outings.

West Johnston (3-1) at Knightdale (2-2)

The old John Madden adage is you’re the champ until somebody beats you, and that’s the case for defending Greater Neuse River 4A Conference champion Knightdale as it starts conference play with a visit from the Wildcats.

The Knights will need to find more offense if they want to put another championship trophy in the display case. They’ve scored just 12.8 points a game. But the offense did come around a bit in their last outing, a 31-13 win over Enloe on Sept. 12.

West, meanwhile, is developing into just what everybody expected the kind of team it would be when Jimmy Williams was named head coach: a strong defensive unit with potent playmakers on offense.

Cameron Williams and Andre Wilson are both talented passers for West combining for nearly 1,000 yards passing this season. Tyrone Jones, Noah Liles and Josh Collier all have two or more TD receptions.

Southeast Raleigh (1-3) at Rolesville (0-4)

The struggles in the early season for both of these teams cane be directly traced to the times when the have the ball in their hands. Southeast is putting up just nine points a game had hasn’t scored more than 18 in any game. Sure, that’s a result of the toughness of the early Bulldog schedule (Fayetteville Brit, Socastee, S.C., Enloe and Wakefield), but in the 2014 world of prep football it takes points to win games — usually a lot of them — and Southeast must get the unit led by junior quarterback and N.C. State recruiting target Dylan Parham to burning the light bulbs more often on the scoreboard.

First-year varsity program Rolesville is averaging 11 points a night, although the Rams have put up a combined 36 points in their last two outings.