First Posted: 1/15/2009
Gridders hit the road Friday for stateplayoffs
W. Curt Vincent-Sports editor
Because South Robeson, Purnell Swett and St. Pauls will be on the road Friday night to open the state football playoffs, they are considered underdogs. But all three are going into their games looking for an upset.
That may be a tall order for both South Robeson and Purnell Swett. Both the Rams and Mustangs are No. 16 seeds and facing a No. 1 seed on its home turf - 10-0 Shelby and 11-0 Davie, respectively.
The Bulldogs of St. Pauls, meanwhile, is a No. 10 seed and will face No. 7 Ledford.
South Robeson vs. Shelby
The Mustangs have a pretty good idea what they will see when they travel to Shelby, since the two teams hooked up in the second round of last year's playoffs.
“They are the No. 1 team in the state, and rightly so,” South Robeson coach Barry Leonard said. “We've been watching film on them since Saturday, and they have outstanding athletes.”
Shelby is led by quarterback Darryl Montgomery, a sophomore who runs a wing-T offense with plenty of speed at its disposal.
On defense, Shelby runs out of a 52 set that reminds Leonard of what South Robeson saw against Clintom.
“They have some very good players with size and speed who execute real well,” Leonard said. “And their defense is very physical and fast. We almost shouldn't even be on the same field with them - but you just never know what can happen.”
Last year's matchup ended in a 34-0 verdict for Shelby, but Leonard said his Mustangs stayed with them for more than a half.
“It was 14-0 in the third quarter and we had some good chances,” Leonard said. “But the wheels really fell off in the fourth quarter.”
Swett vs. Davie
The Rams are making their second straight playoff appearance, but they are hoping it's better than last year, when Swett lost to Waddell, 34-7, in the first round.
That won't be easy, since the Rams are going up against a Davie team that finished undefeated for the first time in 39 years and is ranked No. 4 in the state. Davie also boasts of two highly-touted backs - senior tailback Justin Brown, who has rushed for 1,000 yards the last three seasons and is being recruited by North Carolina; and senior quarterback Cooter Arnold, who accounted for 23 touchdowns before last week's game and, according to Swett assistant coach David Leeks, “he can do it all.”
Davie has put 394 points on the board this season running out of a Pro set offense, while giving up just 117 using a 3-5 defense.
“This team sure looks very fast on film,” said assistant coach Joseph Malcolm.
St. Pauls vs. Ledford
The 7-4 Bulldogs should probably be hosting this matchup, since Ledford comes in with a 5-6 record. Instead, St. Pauls will travel the 147 miles to Thomas-ville Friday night.
Bulldogs coach Mike Setzer would only say that Ledford is “a run team” and that “they don't stack up to teams like Clinton or South Robeson.”
St. Pauls has a solid run game of its own, led by Eric Murphy's 1,268 yards on 200 carries. The Bulldogs have had success through the air, as Keron Pearson and Davishio Ferguson have combined for 861 yards passing.
No. 10 Scotland County, 7-4, and highly touted Div. I quarterback prospect Cam-eron Sexton will travel to take on No. 7 Apex, 9-2.
Sexton has thrown for 2,227 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. Apex, meanwhile, has three backs with more than 600 yards rushing.
No. 16 Pine Forest, 4-7, will travel to take on No. 1 East Wake, 10-0.
Calvin Harris leads East Wake with 1,352 yards rushing on 157 carries.
No. 9 Terry Sanford, 4-6, travels to take on No. No. 8 Wake Forest-Roles-ville, 5-6.
Cory Holden leads Rolesville with 1,455 yards rushing on 167 carries.
No. 1 South View, 11-0, hosts No. 16 Southeast Raleigh, 4-6.
Quarterback J. Dunston leads South-east with 742 yards passing and 349 rushing, while backs D. Ricks (414 yards) and C. Neal are ground threats.
No. 6 Clinton, 8-2, hosts No. 11 Southeast Halifax, 8-3.
No. 11 White-ville, 8-3, travels to take on No. 6 East Rutherford, 9-2.
No. 8 Gray's Creek, 4-7, hosts No. 9 High Point Andrews, 4-7.
No. 4 E.E. Smith, 9-2, hosts No. 13 Greenville-D.H. Conley, 5-6.
No. 15 Cape Fear, 4-7, travels to take on No. 2 Rocky Mount, 10-0.