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Prep football capsules for Week 1: Faith Christian begins title defense

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Faith Christian’s Shaikey Hardy dives into the end zone last season. The defending 8-man state champion Patriots will open their season at home on Friday against Fayetteville Christian.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Friday, August 23, 2019

Rocky Mount High and Tarboro kicked off the prep football season Thursday night. The rest of the area teams are in action Friday.

Here’s a rundown of those games:

Northern Nash (0-0) at East Wake (0-0)

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

The matchup: A new-look Northern Nash team will look to establish the running game this season. The backfield underwent a major overhaul and is led by returning starter Donavan Simpson, along with a pair of transfers. With the agile Kameron Johnson at quarterback, the Knights want to control the clock and put stress on opposing defenses with a number of playmakers. East Wake went 4-7 last season, and closed the final seven games of the season with a winning record after an 0-4 start.

Warren County (0-0) at Southern Nash (0-0)

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

The matchup: The Zonovan Knight era is over at Southern Nash, but the Firebirds should be able to withstand the loss of the top runner in program history. SN returns most of its offensive playmakers that produced 58 points per game last season en route to a 12-1 record. The Firebirds will have a prime chance to start strong with three consecutive home games against teams with losing records a year ago. Warren County went 3-8 last season and lost its top passer, top rusher and top tackler to graduation.

Southeast Halifax (0-0) at Nash Central (0-0)

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

The matchup: This season for Nash Central will be about gaining experience for the young team as the exodus of the largely senior-led group last year opened a lot of positions across the roster. Bulldogs coach Chris Lee is excited about the future of this young core, and Friday begins the process of finding out how each player best fits in the scheme. Nash Central’s closest game last season was decided by 11 points, and the defense didn’t allow more than 27 points in any game over the final four games of the season. Southeast Halifax, which lost its top rusher to Northern Nash via transfer, is coming off a 4-8 season and is in a similar position as the Bulldogs with a new group of young players.

St. Pauls (0-0) at North Edgecombe (0-0)

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

The matchup: North Edgecombe turned its season around after an 0-3 start to finish second in the Tar Roanoke Conference. The Warriors return much of that same team and expect to be competitive in 1-A this year. St. Pauls, a playoff team last season, returns its 1,500-yard rusher Marqueise Coleman who will present a tough test for the Warriors defense.

Rocky Mount Prep (0-0) at Arendell Parrott Academy (0-0)

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

The matchup: Rocky Mount Prep will travel to Kinston to face a Parrott team that will play two 11-man games to open the season. The APA Patriots play in the same 8-man conference as Rocky Mount Academy and Faith Christian. The Jaguars, meanwhile, are aiming to secure a winning season after winning no more than three games in any season since at least 2011.

Fayetteville Christian (0-0) at Faith Christian (0-0)

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

The matchup: The defending NCISAA 8-man state champion Faith Christian Patriots open the season at home. The Patriots’ backfield brings back its key members, which should help new quarterback Chandler Cockrell acclimate to the varsity game. Fayetteville Christian went 0-9 last season.

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