Suffolk city title on the line
Published 8:46 pm Thursday, October 22, 2015
The two Suffolk public high school football teams with the best records face off tonight with Nansemond River High School traveling to face King’s Fork High School.
The Bulldogs could wrap up their third straight Suffolk city title with a win.
Meanwhile, Grassfield High School shifts from King’s Fork last week to Lakeland High School this week, and Nansemond-Suffolk Academy continues its quest to win the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools with a game at Greenbrier Christian Academy.
Nansemond River (4-3) at King’s Fork (5-2) — 7 p.m.
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Last season: Bulldogs 47, Warriors 20
King’s Fork coach Joe Jones said he is excited for the Bulldogs to play every Friday night, but “this one’s a little bigger because it’s another Suffolk school and a chance for us to get a Suffolk city football title.”
The Bulldogs set up this opportunity with its 33-7 victory over Lakeland on Oct. 9.
But if Nansemond River’s record and recent play is any indication, the Warriors should pose a significant threat to King’s Fork.
“They’re a good football team,” Jones said. “They have improved a lot from last year. It should be a good game.”
Nansemond River coach David Coccoli was initiated to the cross-city rivalry with King’s Fork last year and has a good understanding of what his team is up against as it faces the Bulldogs.
“They’re 5-2 and a good football team, and they’ve got probably one of the best running backs in the state, and Coach Jones does a good job,” Coccoli said.
King’s Fork will have back tonight both Jones and senior Deshaun Wethington — the running back to whom Coccoli was referring. Jones and Wethington were ejected from the Oct. 9 game against Lakeland, and Virginia High School League rules barred them from participating in last week’s game against Grassfield.
While Coccoli pointed to Wethington as KF’s go-to guy that his defense would need to contain, Jones did not specify an NR offensive player, noting the Warriors have weapons everywhere.
Nansemond River senior quarterback Kiere Landry had a stellar outing last Friday night, as did senior receivers Josh Covington and Chris Henderson. On the ground, senior Terrence Lambert continued to be a major threat, as well.
Jones said his team will look to continue developing its improving passing game, led by senior quarterback Ryan Kluck.
Grassfield (6-1) at Lakeland (2-5) — 7 p.m.
Last season: Grizzlies 35, Cavaliers 21
Grassfield will look to spoil the homecoming of another Suffolk high school after defeating King’s Fork 38-14 last week, but Lakeland is pushing forward undaunted by the Grizzlies.
“I feel good about this game,” Cavaliers coach Kevin Knight said. “I feel the guys are confident. We’ve had a great week of practice.”
The Cavs are looking to rebound from a 25-22 overtime loss to host Hickory High School, and they have studied the film from that game to learn from their mistakes.
“This week we just focused on doing our jobs, everybody doing their assignment,” Knight said, noting the film showed some guys simply were not doing this.
Lakeland worked on tackling this week and prepared to defend against what Grassfield likes to do.
“They like to throw the ball downfield,” Knight said. “They have a great athlete in (Grant) Holloway, so they like to try to get the ball in his hands.”
Holloway had four catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns against the Bulldogs.
“I think we match up well,” Knight said, adding that multiple players will have a chance to line up against Holloway, but junior cornerback Alajuwun Langston will be the primary one.
Nansemond-Suffolk (5-2) at Greenbrier Christian (3-4) — 7 p.m.
Last season: Saints 56, Gators 34
Nansemond-Suffolk is fresh off a big 42-7 homecoming win over TCIS rival Norfolk Academy last Friday night, and the Saints’ quest for conference dominance continues tonight.
“We’ve tried to impress upon the kids all week — this may not be the level of competition we saw last week against Norfolk Academy, but it’s still just as important,” NSA coach Lew Johnston said. “It’s a conference game.”
It is also a game with Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III playoff implications. The Saints are in the No. 2 spot behind undefeated Atlantic Shores Christian School, and the Gators are ranked sixth.
Looking at Greenbrier Christian’s roster, Johnston said he is “really kind of surprised that they haven’t won more games. They’ve got some talented kids.”
But he noted nine or 10 of them play both offense and defense, which likely wears them down.
Nansemond-Suffolk sophomore defensive back Erek Smith cracked his collarbone last week on an interception play and will be out for the rest of the season. Senior linebacker/running back Daniel Griffith tweaked his hamstring against NA and will not play tonight.