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East focusing on round one

CREEKSVILLE – It would be easy for Northampton-East to be looking forward to round two.

The Rams drew the number five seed in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state 1-A football playoffs. They will be at home Friday in the first round and they’re hosting a team they beat 46-0 in the regular season.

First-year Head Football Coach Greg Watford made it clear, however, that he is taking Mattamuskeet seriously.

“They’re a much-improved team over the one we played in week two,” Watford said. “Every game in the playoffs is important and I know from experience that when it gets to this time of year, anybody can beat anybody.”

Watford said he had been the coach of a 16 seed that beat the number one and had also been the coach of teams that were ranked higher than the ones that beat them.

“We understand the importance of playing well and preparing hard,” he said. “We’re in a tough bracket. There are plenty of playoff seasoned teams in it and we have to prepare hard every day and every week.”

In the first game between Northampton-East and Mattamuskeet, which was also played in Roy F. Lowry Stadium, the Rams held their visitors to just 77 yards of total offense while Laquan Jacobs rolled up 99 yards by himself to lead Northampton-East.

Watford said having the return matchup at home was important to his team and to the program the coaching staff wanted to build in Creeksville.

“We feel good about playing in Lowry Stadium,” Watford said. “It’s always nice to play at home in front of our fans.

“We are trying to build something here and return the program to its glory days,” he continued. “We need to build excitement among our fan base to do that.”

Watford said playing at home would help his team in the future rounds of the playoffs if they were fortunate enough to defeat the Lakers a second time.

“It will give us some experience,” he said. “If we take care of business, having our first game at home will prove beneficial as we get ready to either travel to Jones Senior or host Southeast Halifax.”

The coach said he needed quarterback Laquan Tann to play well this week along with James Long and Terrell Ashe. He will also be counting on freshmen Hyshawn Hewett and Jewan Boone.

“Hyshawn and Jewan played well last week and we’re going to reward them with more playing time,” he said.

Defensively, the coach said he would have to count on his entire unit to play well.

“The whole defense must play well,” he said. “We have to get after them. If we do that, we can have a good showing Friday night.”

Northampton-East plays host to the Lakers at 7:30 p.m. on Friday evening.