Hillside, Southern lace 'em up
Tonight’s Hillside-Southern 7:30 football showdown at Durham County Memorial Stadium is a win-win for fans and players alike, officials from both high schools say.
Technically a home game for Southern, former Spartans athletic director Avery Bryant, who scheduled the game before departing his AD post in July, said County Stadium offered “a bigger, safer environment” for the game. “Since it’s our home game, we can choose to play it wherever we want,” Bryant said. He added that traffic access at Southern is limited and with a large crowd expected Friday, might have caused problems — thus the safety concern.
Another issue for Southern (0-0), according to football coach Adrian Jones, is the size of the Spartans’ stadium — and Hillside’s stadium, too, for that matter.
“Every year we play, we have to turn people away, both at our place and at theirs,” Jones said, referring to Hillside. “You hate to turn people away from a game like this.”
Hillside AD Bobby Hill, a former Hornets football coach himself, said the move of the Southern home game is nothing new, citing a couple of such games that were played at N.C. Central’s O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium. Hillside (1-0) played Southern at County Stadium in November 2008 in a second round 4-A state playoff game, in that case because of damage to Southern’s home field.
“This is a community game,” Hill said. “It’s a big game with a lot of interest and playing at County Stadium makes this game accessible to all the community.”
Jones said the fact that tonight’s game is Southern’s opener — the Spartans had an open date on Aug. 23 — could be advantageous.
Hillside, which beat state No. 5-ranked New Bern 27-24 in overtime Friday on the road while ranked No. 23 itself, has the advantage of having played a game and ironed out some early season wrinkles.
But Southern has seen tape of that game.
“It’s always a plus to be able to watch film on the other team,” Jones said. “It’s easier for the kids to visualize what they’re (Hillside) doing.”
While the teams are no longer members of the same conference — Southern has been reclassified to the 3-A ranks and now plays in the Big Eight Conference, while Hillside remains a member of the PAC-6 4-A — tonight’s game is a big one.
“It’s always a big game in terms of bragging rights,” Jones said. “But it’s a seeding thing in the playoffs as well. I’m happy to still be playing them (Hillside).”
Hillside coach Antonio King said that while the game means a lot to fans and players alike, in fact it no longer has anywhere near the importance it did when Hillside and Southern battled annually for the top spot in the PAC-6.
“What does this game mean? Nothing. It’s not a conference game, not like when it was between us and them for the conference title and it was a legitimately big game,” King said. “I know it still means a lot to a lot of people, though.”
Both teams have oustanding skill position talent, particularly on offense.
Southern junior quarterback Kendall Hinton has held a scholarship offer since last fall from Duke coach David Cutcliffe, who’s renowned for his work with outstanding quarterbacks including NFL stars Peyton and Eli Manning. Wide receiver Maurice Trowell has committed to N.C. State and running back Will Cameron holds a scholarship offer from West Virginia. Slot receiver/running back Jordan Brown, a sophomore transfer from Northern where he started as a freshman, is another standout.
Hillside counters with a pair of skill players among the most sought-after in the nation by college coaches in four-star senior prospects Trevion Thompson, a wide receiver, and Donté Thomas-Williams, a running back. Each starred against New Bern on Friday. Junior quarterback Nas Forte-Ferguson is new but has star potential throwing the ball.
“They’re pretty good on offense, and so are we,” Jones said. “Their real strength is up front on the offensive and defensive lines. We’re both big and strong on the lines. This is going to come down to a battle of the trenches.”
Those lines are big ones for both teams, particularly on offense. Hillside will start tackles Emanuel McGirt (6-5, 260) and Rashawn Henderson (6-2, 225), guards DaQuan Brown (6-2, 295) and Marcus Pettiford (6-5, 255) and center Brandon Thompson (6-1, 315). Southern will counter with tackles Devonta Lynch (6-2, 275) and Noah Chase (6-5, 296), guards Eric Allen (6-2, 273) and Christian Howze (5-9, 240) and center Khalif Dean (5-10, 245).
On the defensive front, Hillside will field defensive ends Khalon Howard (6-2, 225) and K.J. Covington (6-0, 200) and tackle Teshaun Dawson (6-2, 250) and Markus Crutchfield (6-0, 230). Southern answers with ends Isaiah Ross (6-0, 186) and Tahj Spivey (6-1, 215) and tackles Douglas Satterfield (5-11, 210) and Tyler Herbert (6-2, 275).
One of Hillside’s key concerns tonight will be stopping Hinton. The Hornets had their hands full trying to contain New Bern quarterback Michael Hughes Friday. Hughes broke free on five long plays totalling over 190 yards — more than half New Bern’s total offense on the night. Hinton, too, is an explosive signal caller.
King said he thought the Hornets’ defense should be better prepared to handle Hinton after facing Hughes, and recognizing it needs to focus better, pay attention to details and seal the deal with strong tackling, keeping big plays to a minimum.
“We had our hands on (Hughes) a lot, but didn’t always bring him down,” King said.
NOTES — Bryant has been replaced as AD by top Southern football aide and boys’ track coach Darius Robinson. Bryant remains on the school’s faculty and as head baseball coach. ... Adrian Jones laughed when it was posed to him that AD Robinson, his defensive coordinator, now doubles as his boss. ... “When it comes to football, Adrian is still my boss,” Robinson said, also laughing. “It’s a give-and-take,” Robinson added, saying that he and Jones are friends — as well as colleagues — for life. ... In this week’s MaxPreps.com statewide rankings, Hillside is No. 11 and New Bern No. 12. Southern, a 3-A program, is ranked 75th overall. MaxPreps is the official online partner of the N.C. High School Athletic Association.
TONIGHT’S HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Northern at Orange, 7 p.m.
Danville (Va.) Washington at Roxboro Person, 7 p.m.
Fuquay-Varina at Riverside, 7 p.m.
Kestrel Heights at Walkertown, 7 p.m.
Jordan at Raleigh Enloe, 7 p.m.
Chapel Hill at South Granville, 7:30 p.m.
East Chapel Hill at Carrboro, 7:30 p.m.
Southern Lee at Northwood, 7:30 p.m.
Oxford Webb at Rocky Mount, 7:30 p.m.
Rocky Mount Prep at Granville Central, 7:30 p.m.
Southern Vance at Cedar Ridge, 7:30 p.m.
Hillside vs. Southern, 7:30 p.m.
Site: Durham County Memorial Stadium
TONIGHT’S STARTING LINEUPS
WR Maurice Trowell
WR Derrick Mason
WR Jason Henderson
SB Jordan Brown
TB Will Cameron
QB Kendall Hinton
LT Devonta Lynch
LG Eric Allen
C Khalif Dean
RG Christian Howze
RT Noah Chase
DE Isaiah Ross
DT Douglas Satterfield
DT Tyler Herbert
DE Tahj Spivey
ILB James Taylor
ILB Dominique Mims
SS Kameron Johnson
ROV Josh Manns
FS Marvin Tillman
CB Kaleb Barfield
CB Jeremy Griffis
K Leonardo Orozco
P Kaleb Barfield
KR Will Cameron
PR Maurice Trowell
WR Trevion Thompson
WR DeAndre Harper
TE Malik Evans
SB Miles Kelly
QB Nas Forté-Ferguson
TB Donté Thomas-Williams
LT Emanuel McGirt
LG DaQuan Brown
C Brandon Thompson
RG Marcus Pettiford
RT Rashawn Henderson
DE Khalon Howard
DT Teshaun Dawson
NG Markus Crutchfield
DE K.J. Covington
OLB Keith Beasley
MLB Lason Midgette
OLB Robert Traynham
FS Kalen McCain
SS Jalon Bethea
CB Alex Woods
CB Eric Young
K Ian Burriss Jr.
P Ian Burriss Jr.
PR Eric Young