With the schedule sped up a day by Hanna, I thought I would look at who's helped by getting back on the field as soon as possible but then I came up with good reasons why all six Johnston County teams should be anxious to go at it tonight.
For the record, those reasons are as follows:
SMITHFIELD-SELMA Even after a bad outing last week, nothing gets a team looking ahead more than revenge, which the Spartans will be looking for against Chapel Hill, a team it beat in the regular-season last year but lost to in the 4-A playoffs.
WEST JOHNSTON The Wildcats probably wish they were a baseball team right now and could play every day. They'll be anxious for another chance to get better and keep a great thing rolling.
SOUTH JOHNSTON The Trojans are anxious to show they can hold onto the ball when it matters after several costly turnovers in their loss to West. Defensively, South has to be smarting a bit as well and looking for redemption.
PRINCETON When a longtime faithful fan of the Bulldogs called me raving about how well they played last week against North Moore, I knew things were really starting to pick up in P-town from a football perspective. The Dawgs are anxious to go for their first winning record in some time tonight.
NORTH JOHNSTON The Panthers would take with about any result that doesn't involve them losing by a single point. West, a 4-A squad on a roll, will be a really good test for North.
CLAYTON The Comets feel like they've gotten back to running the ball like they always want to. They've put up 52 points in their last five quarters of play and would like to take their shot at working over another scoreboard.
Well, onto the specific games we'll be covering tonight.
South Johnston (1-1) at Clayton (1-1)
Last year, South Johnston 10-7
The Comets' time of possession will tell much about this battle. If Clayton wins the possession war by a significant amount, it could be in good shape. But it'll be tough to do against a South run defense that was pretty solid in last week's loss to West.
Chapel Hill (1-0) at Smithfield-Selma (1-1)
Last year, Smithfield-Selma 21-16 (on Aug. 31) and Chapel Hill 13-7 (on Nov. 16)
The Tigers have already been through so much this year with the death of team member Atlas Fraley. They're honoring him by wearing his jersey number on their helmets this season. This game is likely to feature a playoff atmosphere so don't be surprised by a low score.
West Johnston (2-0) at North Johnston (0-2)
Last year, West Johnston 24-8
West's decision to stick with its previous offensive and defensive schemes has paid off as the Wildcat 'O' is in mid-season form. North will need to possess the ball as much as possible as well, keeping the game with as low of a score as possible. Fortunately, there haven't been an abundance of points in this series either.
Holly Ridge Dixon (0-1) at Princeton (1-1)
Last year, Dixon 26-6
Both teams put up big zeroes in their last games. For Princeton, it was on the other side of the scoreboard. Unfortunately for Dixon, it was on their side in a 35-0 loss to Union. The Bulldogs will look to continue their defensive prowess of last week in a big way tonight.
Note: The games at Princeton and North Johnston both begin at 7 p.m., while the others kick off at 7.
Since the NFL season is beginning tonight as well, I'll throw in a few predictions on that front as well:
1. The Cowboys and Eagles will be the best teams in the NFC.
2. New England, assuming Tom Brady's foot is still working, will prevail in a weakening AFC field. The pick would have been San Diego but with Shawne Merriman's injury, the Chargers are as impressive on defense.
3. The Packers will win the NFC North, even with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
4. Jacksonville wins the AFC South. Indy's down just enough to lose the division but still makes the playoffs.
5. The AFC North champ will be the only team from that division to make the playoffs. Either Cleveland or Pittsburgh's winning it with a 9-7 record.
6. The Panthers will win the NFC South and get a bye in the opening round before losing to the Eagles or Cowboys in the divisional round.
7. Oakland or Kansas City's winning eight games. Denver's down, the Chargers are down and both the Raiders and Chiefs have some really good young players.
8. So in the Super Bowl, I'll take the Cowboys over the Patriots, 37-30. Assuming Dallas gets by Philly in the NFC playoffs, they'll have improved their secondary enough to match up against the Patriots.