High School Sports

PrepsNow Playbook: West Johnston playing biggest game in its school history on Friday

West Johnston’s Andre Wilson (13) breaks a run up the middle for a 34-yard touchdown on the first drive of the game.
West Johnston’s Andre Wilson (13) breaks a run up the middle for a 34-yard touchdown on the first drive of the game. newsobserver.com

West Johnston is playing the biggest football game of its 14-year history this Friday when it welcomes Garner into town.

While Garner (8-1, 5-0 Greater Neuse 4A) has 21 conference titles since 1987, West (8-0, 5-0) has never won a league crown. The Wildcats have already tied a school record for wins. A win Friday could mean a lot of firsts for the program.

Both teams have a lot of similarities. They love to run the ball and do it to score a lot of points (West 43.8 points per game, Garner 44.1), they play very strong defense (West has allowed 8.75 points per game, Garner 9.4), they both have pretty veteran coaching staffs and they both stand to be a very high (possibly No. 1) playoff seed in their respective playoff bracket with a win (West in 4A, Garner in 4AA).

Horsing around

Northwood freshman Kayla Amy and her horse Spencer have added to the pregame pageantry at Chargers home games this year. She rides Spencer, a mustang, onto the field with an American flag as the band prepares to play the National Anthem. Amy and Spencer compete in hunter/jumper shows.

The Starting 11: players of the week

(Times named to The Starting 11 this season in parentheses.)

Tyrell Baldwin, Northwood: Had with 37 carries for 259 yards and three touchdowns.

Earl Gibson Jr., Princeton (1): Ran 27 times for 143 yards and four touchdowns.

Jalen Greene, Southern Durham (2): He hit 20 of 29 passes for 319 yards and three TDs with one interception. Also ran 11 times for 86 yards and two scores.

Garrett Lewis, St. David’s (1): Completed 17 of 30 passes for 223 yards and seven touchdowns in a wild 58-56 triple-overtime win against Arendell Parrott.

Matt McKay, Wakefield (2): Completed 13 of 23 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns and added 17 carries for 154 yards and four touchdowns.

Ryan McLamb, Southern Durham (1): Caught six passes for 179 yards and a touchdown.

Dominique Shoffner, Middle Creek (3): Completed 14 of 20 passes for 235 yards and four touchdowns.

Dalen Spruill, Cardinal Gibbons (2): Ran 21 times for 215 yards and one touchdown.

Javonte Smith, South Johnston (1): Caught six passes for 222 yards and completed a two-point conversion pass.

Broderick Taylor, Holly Springs (4): Ran 19 times for 213 yards and four touchdowns and caught a 24-yard pass.

Blake Watson, Green Hope (1): Caught 7 passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns, also returned a kickoff 85 yards for a score.

4-point stance: top defenses

D.H. Conley: No one saw this coming. The Vikings held Eastern Wayne to 92 yards in a 42-0 win after giving up 55, 68 and 77 points in three consecutive games.

Garner: Shut out Knightdale 57-0 thanks in part to two blocked punts and held the Knights to minus-28 yards rushing and 38 passing (10 total).

Orange: Held Chapel Hill to 4 yards of offense (12 rushes for minus-4 yards, 7 completed passes for 8) in a 42-0 win.

Sanderson: Held Enloe to minus-2 yards of total offense (42 rushes for minus-13, 4 completed passes for 11) in a 40-0 win.

Quick hits

▪ There’s a simple reason why Princeton goes with some version of an onside kick every time it kicks off this season. “That’s what we do because we don’t have anybody who can do the sky kick,” coach Travis Gaster said. “We know we’re going to give up field position, but if we get one (of those kicks), I’m happy.”

▪ Former South Johnston head coach Joe Salas is the interim head coach at Harnett Central after Dave Thomas resigned two weeks ago. The Trojans (1-8, 1-4 Greater Neuse 4A) lost to Rolesville 34-26 in Salas’ first game last Friday. Salas led South Johnston to the 2009 3AA state title game and has head coaching stops at West Bladen and Lumberton since.

Thomas declined to go into specifics, but said his decision stemmed from a disagreement with an assistant coach.

“It was just came to a situation that I didn’t want to deal with anymore,” Thomas said. “I love our kids, I love our players. I’m going to do everything I can to keep coaching somewhere.”

▪ Hillside isn’t used to being the underdog, but the Hornets have yet to crack the state’s AP poll despite their only loss coming 32-26 to the state’s No. 1 team, Greensboro’s Dudley High.

▪ Bunn coach David Howle is retiring after this season, which makes three in the N&O area: Beddingfield’s Tyrone Johnson and Orange’s Pat Mose are the others.

▪  Middle Creek graduate Chris Hubert is on the Arizona Cardinals’ active roster this weekend. Hubert was a 5-foot-7 wide receiving in high school. He walked on at Fayetteville State where he grew a few inches and starred, then impressed the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent and made the practice squad.


Smithfield-Selma has big night ahead: Smithfield-Selma High School will wrap up its home schedule in a big way Friday. The Spartans will hold their homecoming events (postponed by Hurricane Matthew), honor their fall sport seniors, hold military night (veterans will be admitted to the game free of charge), a student section ‘Pink Out’ and honor two of its football program alums who played in the biggest football game of all.

At halftime, the school will be presented two golden footballs from the NFL and the families of two Spartan program alums during halftime. Jimmy Hargrove and the late Curtis Whitley went onto play in Super Bowls after their days at SSS ended.

J. Mike Blake: 919-460-2606, @JMBpreps