Chatham on the gridiron

Posted 8/23/19

Excitement abounds in Chatham County as the 2019 football season is upon us.

On the slate this week will feature a pair of home games for Chatham Central and Jordan-Matthews while Northwood will …

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Chatham on the gridiron

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Posted

Excitement abounds in Chatham County as the 2019 football season is upon us.

On the slate this week will feature a pair of home games for Chatham Central and Jordan-Matthews while Northwood will be on the road, albeit a short bus trip into Wake County.

In Pittsboro, Northwood is preparing to take on 4A Apex Friendship in what will be a tough task for the Chargers under new coach Cullen Homolka. The Chargers looked sharp at times on Friday, August 16 at the Jack Shaner Jamboree in Pittsboro, displaying some dangerous skill with a slew of weapons in the likes of Aaron Ross, Deuce Powell, Justin Brower and Jalen Mcafee-Marion. That group is sure to cause some sleepless nights for opposing defensive coordinators and did so in its scrimmage sessions with the likes of Southern Alamance and Jordan-Matthews.

Northwood struggled at times up front on Friday, however, and that improvement in a week’s time will be the key to how well the green and gold can fare against Apex Friendship.

Offensively, Northwood will have a speed advantage and could exploit Apex Friendship if they can create the running lanes and space for its playmakers. Accounting for Justin Reed, a hand in the turf defensive end will be imperative as the All-South Wake Conference performer is relentless in his pursuit while Adrian Moore gives the Patriots a stocky DT who is also disruptive at the line of scrimmage.

Defensively, it will be all about stopping bowling ball running back’s Sam Cabe and Judah Wilson, a senior and sophomore tandem that can grind out yards north and south in the Patriots Spread offensive attack. Nigel Toster gives the Patriots a deep threat, though replacing graduate QB Dylan Elkins is a key question mark for Apex Friendship.

In Siler City, new Jordan-Matthews head coach Sam Spencer is excited for Friday night despite what is being dubbed as a rebuilding process for the Jets. More than 50 players have come out for the blue and gold, which certainly has bolstered the enthusiasm of the program. A surprising showing at the Jack Shaner Jamboree appears to have the Jets ahead of schedule as a program as the locals stood toe to toe with bigger schools in 4A Green Hope and 3A Western Harnett. Offensively QB Xavier Woods, a junior, looked sharp running the show for Jordan-Matthews and proved a threat running and throwing the ball. Jerrell Brooks had a couple of touchdowns and an interception in the scrimmage while Jayden Davis added two touchdowns and a pair of picks. Freshman linebacker Makil Watson was all over the field and made an instant impact when he came in.

Bartlett Yancey is a known foe for Spencer and the Jets who were in the 2A Mid-State Conference with the Buccaneers up until the 2016 season. Jordan-Matthews won the contest in Siler City that year 28-26.

To get a win on Friday night, the Jets will have to eliminate mistakes, especially the bad exchanges, while stopping the explosive plays by the Buccaneers.

“We need to get off to a good start and to play aggressive,” said Spencer. “Taking care of the football on offense and sustaining drives while getting off the field on third downs is another key. We have to play four quarters and I think our kids are excited.”

Containing RB Jacob Scales and QB Chase Johnson will be a challenge for the J-M defense while keeping a Miles Jefferson led defense off balance will be essential.

In Bear Creek, coach Sherman Howze and his Chatham Central squad are coming into a opening night contest with Eastern Randolph with nothing to lose.

Chatham Central showed a lot of positives in its scrimmage sessions at the Jack Shaner Jamboree on Friday. Michael Moore, well, was Michael Moore, one of the top quarterback talents in the state. The junior can make all the throws from the out routes and also the fades where he hooked up with the likes of Micah Gurley on a scoring pass in the corner of the end zone from 40 yards out. Tyler Oldham also looked good at WR while J’aaron Wise had a pick six from his defensive end spot and continues to get better and better as just a sophomore.

Things will be much tougher this Friday nights as the Wildcats are favored big by everyone, and are expected to be better this fall under coach Burton Cates who returns for his second season after a lengthy hiatus in Lee County.

Eastern Randolph returns a bulk of talent, including QB Cade Snotherly, big time WR recruit in junior Kaemen Marley, and shifty back Tavis Mcadoo from a team that went 9-3 a year ago and that is expected to be vastly improved on both sides of the ball. James Locklear spearheads the ER defense from the linebacking spot.

Stopping the potent Wildcat offense will be a chore on Friday night while establishing a ground game and giving Moore time to throw the ball will be additional keys if the Bears are to pull what would be a monumental upset.

“We have to go in and play hard and see what happens,” said Howze. “Our kids have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I want them to have fun and compete.”

FROM THE BEAR’S DEN

This week: Eastern Randolph (0-0)

Last season: 9-3

Head Coach: Burton Cates

2A PAC 7 Conference

Leading returnees: WR Kaemen Marley, RB Tavis Mcadoo, QB Cade Snotherly, LB James Locklear

NCHSAA 3A State Champions 1983, 3AA State Champions 2006

Prediction: Eastern Randolph 48, Chatham Central 7

ON CHARGER BOULEVARD

This week: @ Apex Friendship (0-0)

Last season: 4-8

Head Coach: Adam Sanders

4A South Wake Conference

Leading returnees: RB Sam Cabe, RB Judah Wilson, WR Nigel Toster, DE Justin Reed, DT Adrian Moore

4th year of the program which has posted records of 1-9 in 2016, 6-5 in 2017, and 4-8 in 2018

Inaugural game for Northwood Head Coach Cullen Homolka

Prediction: Apex Friendship 24, Northwood 21

IN THE JET HANGAR

This week: Bartlett Yancey (0-0)

Last season: 3-8

Head Coach: Joshua Brumfield

2A Mid-State Conference

Leading returnees: QB Chase Johnson, RB/LB Jacob Scales, WR Quinton Noble, DE Miles Jefferson, DL Caleb Dance, LB Triston Winn

Barlett Yancey and Jordan-Matthews were in the 2A Mid-State Conference for eight years prior to the 2017 season.

Jordan-Matthews won the last contest over the Buccaneers in 2016 in Siler City 28-26.

Inaugural game for Jordan-Matthews Head Coach Sam Spencer.

Prediction: Bartlett Yancey 34, Jordan-Matthews 26

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