There's a high school football game in Greensboro tonight (although it started some 90 minutes late) so why not start talking about football?
The North Carolina Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game traditionally has signaled the end of summer, as we sports journalists know it, and the beginning of preparations for another season of high school football. Practice begins in two weeks on Friday, Aug. 1, and from there it's only three weeks to the start of the regular season.
The earliest poll that I've seen is NCPreps.com's 3-A Baker's Dozen with the 2-A and 1-A lists presumably to follow in the next day or two. If you haven't clicked on the link, I can tell that SouthWest Edgecombe is the only team in The Wilson Daily Times readership area to make the list of 13 notable 3-A squads.
The Cougars should have nearly two dozen lettermen back, including senior quarterback Greg Horne, probably the finest in the area. Most importantly, any team coached by Raymond Cobb is going to be tough to beat. Look for SWE to challenge Rocky Mount for NEW 6 Conference supremacy for the third straight year.
Fike will have some talented players back, notably FB-LB Titus Best and RB-DB Rashad Parker, but the Golden Demons aren't at Rocky Mount's level. Even with losing several talented players, the Gryphons sit atop the 3-A Baker's Dozen.
As usual, Southern Nash lost a lot of key seniors from last year's team. Experience will easily be the Firebirds' biggest weakness.
In the 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference, Hunt lost some key performers but has many more coming back, especially on the defensive side. If young QB Tyrell Vinson is the real deal, the Warriors should rule the ECC.
Of course, the Warriors' co-champ from a year ago, Beddingfield, is just as lethal in terms of talent like Jumal Rolle, Lance Price and Jermal Artis. But the Bruins have struggled in not beating themselves. Either way, I'm guessing Hunt and Beddingfield are easily the top two teams in the ECC.
Charles B. Aycock lost some key seniors and will have to find another quarterback this year and replace most of its defensive line.
Greene Central will have to adjust to a new coach in Kenneth Grantham and a new offense but the talent is still there in Snow Hill to contend for 2-A Eastern Plains Conference honors this fall.
Finally, in Kenly head coach Tom Nelson has a pair of big-time players in North Johnston's E.J. Knight and Jacob Lewis. At the 1-A level, a dynamic duo like that can make a difference for a team. Ayden-Grifton's always tough but the Panthers' final season in the 1-A Carolina Conference should be a successful one.
Granted, I'm just shooting from the hip here and anyone who thinks I'm all wet is invited to chime in and let me know!