Suffolk football’s waterworks clash

Published 10:16 pm Thursday, October 2, 2014

Lakeland High School senior safety Ja'Juan Walker wraps up Oscar Smith High School senior running back Deshawn McClease, a Virginia Tech commit. The Cavaliers will look to limit Nansemond River High School's running game tonight.

Lakeland High School senior safety Ja’Juan Walker wraps up Oscar Smith High School senior running back Deshawn McClease, a Virginia Tech commit. The Cavaliers will look to limit Nansemond River High School’s running game tonight.

Nansemond River (2-2) at Lakeland (1-3) – 7 p.m.

Last season: Nansemond River 31, Lakeland 12

Tonight holds Suffolk’s first cross-city showdown of the 2014 football season, and it is an important game for both teams involved.

Nansemond River High School is on a two-game skid and looking to rebound to avoid going below .500.

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Meanwhile, Lakeland High School coach Bryan Potts has made it clear this is a must-win game for the Cavs with regard to one of their primary goals.

“Under no circumstances can we lose this football game and expect to keep pace with making the playoffs,” he said.

The Cavaliers and Warriors have shared two common opponents this season — Great Bridge High School and Indian River High School. Lakeland defeated the Wildcats 33-27 and narrowly lost 19-16 to the Braves. In the past two weeks, Nansemond River lost 35-31 to the Wildcats and 43-21 to the Braves.

“If we come out against Nansemond River the way we came out and played against Great Bridge and Indian River, it should be a great, great night for us,” Potts said. “I think we match up well with (the Warriors), skill position-wise, even up front, so I like the position that we are in.”

NR coach David Coccoli said he does not think Lakeland’s 1-3 record is indicative of how the team is, and his reasons for respecting the Cavs start with Potts.

“I’ve played with Coach Potts in high school,” Coccoli said, noting the two have known each other for around 16 years. “I have utmost respect for him and the job he’s doing over there.”

Listing the things that help form his opinion of the Cavaliers, Coccoli said, “They beat Great Bridge, and we didn’t,” then referenced senior Miles Goodman when he said their “quarterback is a phenomenal athlete,” and senior Jordan Stokley when he said their “running back is a big play threat.”

Coccoli also acknowledged sophomore Alajuwun Langston’s returns for touchdowns when he said, “They’ve been good in the special teams.”

And Coccoli twice highlighted Potts’ defense.

Potts pinpointed junior running back Terrence Lambert as the Warriors’ biggest offensive weapon.

“Terrence does a pretty good job of running to daylight,” Potts said. “We’re going to have to put some pressure on him.”

Noting his team successfully limited Oscar Smith High School star running back Deshawn McClease, Potts said, “We’ve just got to take that same mentality that we had against McClease last week and focus it on Terrence this week.”

When Lakeland is on offense, Potts said he intends to spread Nansemond River out like Indian River did and try to create some matchup problems, while making sure to block on the ends of the line.

“It’s going to come down to how well the quarterback plays,” he said, referring to Goodman.

Regarding the Warriors’ defensive efforts, Coccoli said on Thursday, “We’ve got to play a lot better defense if we’re going to win tomorrow night. That’s for sure.”

Neither team had any major injuries to report.

King’s Fork (4-0) at Indian River (2-2) – 7 p.m.

Last season: King’s Fork 49, Indian River 21

King’s Fork High School’s football team has another chance to make school history tonight. With a win, the Bulldogs will improve to 5-0 for the first time ever.

They will have to do it on the road, but they reaffirmed last week with a 55-19 win over host Great Bridge High School that away games are no obstacle for them.

“We were very opportunistic,” KF coach Joe Jones said. “That’s the first time in my coaching career that I’ve had a team that scored four defensive touchdowns.”

He hopes the opportunism continues tonight.

“I think Indian River’s the best team we’re playing so far this year,” Jones said, noting the Braves have good athletes, good speed and good size. “It seems like they’re improving each week on getting more confident in what they’re doing and executing.”

Jones is quite familiar with who he is coaching against in Glenwood Ferebee, former Lakeland High School coach.

“Glenwood’s always done a good job offensively of getting his athletes the ball in space,” Jones said. “We went back and looked at some of the old Lakeland film when he was coaching there.”

Ferebee runs a lot of formations, and the Braves offense will be led by junior quarterback Tyre Givers-Wilson, who went 16-of-18 passing for 223 yards and four touchdowns last week at Nansemond River High School.

Defensively, the Braves held the Warriors to 127 yards of offense. Jones said Indian River’s strength is in its linebackers and secondary.

King’s Fork will be without senior defensive standout Keyon Ross due to a forearm injury. Jones hopes Ross will return next week.