Oct 22, 2013
Knightdale's #23 Marquavious Johnson celebrates a touchdown as Knightdale defeats Clayton 52 to 27 Friday night October 4, 2013. (photo by Jack Tarr 2013)
Since the formation of the Greater Neuse River Conference in 2005, no school has won more conference championships than the Garner Trojans. But this week there's a new threat to the Trojans’ kingdom, as the Knightdale Knights look to start a new tradition of their own.
Since Saturday morning, several people have asked me to handicap what shapes up to be the equivalent of the Greater Neuse River Championship game. Respectfully, I have declined to pick a winner due to the fact that I’ll be calling the game for television (check it out on Time Warner Cable channel 520 on Friday night or channel 199 over the weekend).
But what I will do is give you what I think are some key points to look for over the course of the week and during the game on Friday night.
Garner’s Offense vs. Knightdale’s Defense
We all know about Garner’s offense, mainly Nyheim Hines who has accounted for 39 total touchdowns this season for the Trojans. I don’t think anyone will be surprised when I tell you that the Trojans are averaging 300 yards on the ground while airing it out for 156 yards per game.
When we survey Knightdale’s defense, the Knights are yielding just 101 yards on the ground and 129 through the air. The Knights also have five defensive scores on the season, which includes a pair of pick-sixes, a fumble return, a safety and a blocked kick.
Even the casual football fan would expect that the Knights would crowd the box and force Garner to win it through the air, if that becomes the case, how does the Trojan brain trust scheme a way to get the ball to its biggest player-makers.
Knightdale’s Offense vs. Garner’s Defense
It has been very well documented that the Trojan defense may not have the same firepower as the past two years. But in fairness to Garner, Thurman Leach’s defense has been littered with injuries that began almost as quick as a Nyheim Hines touchdown run.
I’m not counting out the Trojan defense yet, but when you look at the gaudy numbers that Knightdale has put up this season, it’s easy to see why the Knights have been so dominate when they have the ball.
I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong about Knightdale’s offense. For weeks I harped on how Marquavious Johnson was the only play-maker for the Knights. Boy was I wrong. Nate Harvey, Marcell Johnson, Lamont Chaney and others have served as a great supporting cast to the future East Carolina Pirate.
Credit not only goes to those young men who have played a tremendous role for this Knightdale offense, but also to the coaching staff, which has come up with creative ways to spread the wealth making it hard for opposing defenses to key on any one player or scheme.
One could make the case this is the biggest game in the history of Knightdale’s football program.
Let’s think back to last year and remember that a pretty good Knightdale squad went to Garner, around the same time in the season, looking to make its mark on a conference crown. Garner scored 42 unanswered points to down the Knights 42-6.
How will that memory impact the game this week? One has to think that it will be mentioned once or twice in each camp this week.
Let’s also keep this in the back of our mind this week – Garner has yet to drop a game to the Knights. However, the Trojans have always had a tough time playing at Knightdale. The last time the two teams met at Knightdale was 2011, the year Garner made its run to the State Championship, and the Trojans escaped with a 22-0 victory.
One of the more interesting story lines to follow this week, aside from the game itself, will be on the sidelines. We all know that Garner has a new head coach in Thurman Leach, but something that gets overlooked is the new offensive coordinator, Adam Hamrick.
Hamrick made his mark as a quarterback at Garner in the early part of the 2000’s, but after finishing his college career, he got into coaching as an offensive coordinator and head junior varsity coach at … you guessed it, Knightdale.
How will that impact things Friday night? I don’t know that it makes a big difference, but its certainly something to keep an eye on.
While I realize that I’m not the football expert that many of you on the message boards are, this is just my two cents on what to look for on Friday. No matter which side you root for this has all the makings of a terrific high school football game.