Facing the district’s best

Published 9:56 pm Thursday, October 29, 2015

Suffolk’s public high school football teams all take on this season’s top three Southeastern District powers on Friday night.

King’s Fork High School hosts undefeated Oscar Smith High School, Lakeland High School hosts Indian River High School and Nansemond River High School visits Grassfield High School.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy plays on Saturday afternoon at Trinity Episcopal School in Richmond.

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Oscar Smith (7-0) at King’s Fork (5-3) — 7 p.m.

Last season: Tigers 42, Bulldogs 20

King’s Fork enters tonight’s game fresh off a 42-6 blowout home loss to Nansemond River High School last week and a 38-14 homecoming loss to Grassfield High School the week before.

“We didn’t respond nearly well enough, like we should and like we expect to,” Bulldogs coach Joe Jones said.

Before those two losses, the Bulldogs had lost only twice on their home field since 2012.

Jones noted King’s Fork players have often been in the right spots to make plays the past two weeks, but “we obviously weren’t prepared enough to finish plays.”

The Bulldogs have worked on their finishing skills, and “we did a little more pumping on Monday to get some toughness back in our minds and in our bodies,” Jones said.

Oscar Smith is on an 80-game regular season Southeastern District win streak but has endured some tough tests this year.

Jones said a lot has been made about the players that have left Oscar Smith, but “they still have a lot of good football players there.”

He said they are explosive on both sides of the ball and versatile on offense, with junior quarterback Shon Mitchell leading the way.

If the Bulldogs win, they will secure a home playoff game, Jones said.

Unfortunately, they will be without senior defensive back/slotback Quadarius Boyd for the remainder of the season due to a knee injury.

Also, KF senior linebacker/slotback John Spearman will likely not play tonight due to a leg injury.

Nansemond River (5-3) at Grassfield (7-1) — 7 p.m.

Last season: Warriors 21, Grizzlies 19

Nansemond River is coming off a signature win after having defeated host King’s Fork 42-6 last week, but the Warriors have not been preoccupied with that success.

“Last week’s over, and we’ve got to play a good football team tomorrow, and we’ve got to play a good football game,” Nansemond River coach David Coccoli said on Thursday.

Grassfield will be looking to go 3-0 this year against its Suffolk opponents in the Southeastern District, while avenging its loss to the Warriors last year.

“They’re a much better football team than last year, and I think we are, as well,” Coccoli said.

Describing the Grizzlies as explosive on offense, Coccoli highlighted Grassfield senior wide receiver Grant Holloway, noting he is one of the best receivers in the state.

The coach also cited senior wide receiver Racee Lucas as a key offensive weapon for the Grizzlies and said they feature a good running game with junior ShaJuan Goodman, junior Darius Hagans and junior Shawndell Joyner.

Coccoli also pointed out a couple of standout Grassfield defenders his Warriors will compete against — senior defensive end Patrick Jones II, who is listed at 6 feet, 5 inches tall and 235 pounds, and junior defensive tackle Seth Harrell, listed at 6 feet, 4 inches tall and 300 pounds.

A win for the Warriors will secure them not only a playoff spot but also their first winning regular season since 2002.

Indian River (7-1) at Lakeland (2-6) — 7 p.m.

Last season: Braves 19, Cavaliers 16

Lakeland hung with visiting Grassfield High School for a while last week before falling 42-23, but now the Cavaliers will take on the Southeastern District’s other one-loss team, the Indian River Braves.

“I’m very confident in our guys this week,” Cavaliers coach Kevin Knight said, as he hopes his players will make their final regular season home game a win.

Lakeland is currently eligible for the playoffs, and it could likely play a postseason game at home if it wins tonight, Knight said.

Some significant ties between the Braves and the Cavaliers formed last year when former Lakeland coach Glenwood Ferebee became coach over at Indian River. Previously, he led the Cavs to success, including a couple of playoff berths and a playoff win in 2012, before joining the college coaching ranks briefly.

Knight served as an assistant under Ferebee for years, giving him insight into how Ferebee operates.

On offense, “He’s going to give us different looks,” Knight said, noting Lakeland’s defense will see a lot of motion and different sets. “You’re going to always see different formations.”

“I’ve got a feeling we might see a lot of pass this week,” Knight added. “I think our athletes match up well with their athletes.”

On defense, “they’re going to be (in) attack mode,” Knight said, and the Braves defense features former Cavalier linebacker Jaquan Yulee, a University of Alabama commit.