at Cleveland (0-1)
Phase two of the “it couldn’t get any better” schedule to start the season begins for Cleveland fans as the powerful Trojans visit Ram country for a colossal clash.
Both teams are driven by their run games with Isaac Martin, a 2,000-plus yard back in 2012, powering the Cleveland offense and Nyheim Hines, a threat on the ground, on passes and kick returns, leading the Garner attack.
Expect the big plays to flow. With both defenses still breaking in inexperienced players, there’s reason to believe this will be a 40-something to 30-something final score.
However, there are the intangibles to deal with: turnovers, momentum, etc. And although Cleveland’s played in its share of big games in its short history, there’s something different about seeing Garner lined up on the opposite sideline or across the line of scrimmage. The Rams have to get over that quickly because no team is better at turning a little momentum or one big play into a two- or three-touchdown run in five minutes or less.
From an Xs and Os standpoint, watch the cat and mouse game before the snap when Cleveland has the ball. Rams’ head coach and chief play caller Marc Morris likes to wait for the defense to commit to a look before he makes his offensive call. So Garner has to be good at disguising what it’s doing: who’s blitzing, what kind of coverage it is, etc., to be as effective as it can on defense.
Last point, get there early. If you thought last year’s visit from West Johnston brought both sides’ fans out to Polenta Road, wait until you see the crowd that’ll be there Friday night.
South Johnston (0-1)
at West Johnston (1-0)
There’s a good chance this one will be the most competitive game on the Friday night schedule this week. Why? History, simply. The last five games in the series and six of the last seven have been decided by a touchdown or less.
There will be plenty of nerves rolling on both sides, so both sides want to win the battle against mental mistakes and turnovers. The team that turns the ball over the least almost always wins close games.
And this should be a very close game.
Hickory Grove Christian (1-0)
at Wake Christian (1-0)
The Bulldogs make their home debut against Charlotte Hickory Grove, a fellow NCISAA 3A school in the Metrolina Athletic Conference.
Southeast Raleigh (0-1)
vs. Dutch Fork, S.C. (0-0)
Southeast Raleigh plays a game it has looked forward to since before last season with its appearance in the Carolinas Kickoff Clash in Myrtle Beach, S.C. against South Carolina power Dutch Fork at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.
The game, set to kick off at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, is part of a two-day, four-game series between teams from North Carolina and South Carolina.
Dutch Fork is coached by former Charlotte Independence coach Tom Knotts and went to the 4A state finals in South Carolina last December.