Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cobb's Cougars back in the third round

The result from Friday night's 3-A football playoff game at Kinston was not surprising but the score might have been.

SouthWest Edgecombe marched into Kinston and laid waste to the Vikings' best season, burning them 47-13 on a freezing night in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs.

I figured this matchup between true eastern powerhouse teams would go SouthWest's way but Kinston had been impressive down the stretch. The Vikings' only two losses came against quality opponents — West Craven, ranked No. 4 in the final 3-A poll and Wilmington Hoggard, ranked fourth in the 4-A poll. There was little reason to think it would be a blowout.

But SWE head coach Raymond Cobb always manages to inspire his kids to play to the level of the game. Looking at photos from last week's defeat of South Granville in a foggy first-round matchup, I remarked to my cohorts in the sports department that Cobb's bearded visage on the foggy sideline made him seem like a Confederate general in those grainy old Civil War photographs.

I don't think Coach Cobb wants to hear this but there is a bit of Stonewall Jackson in him. There's no doubt he commands loyalty, dedication and a fierce belief in his troops that if they follow their gameplan, they can win. He's been a winner wherever he's been and here are the Cougars back in the third round of the playoffs. But that's where it ended two years ago when Eastern Alamance came to Pinetops the day after Thanksgiving. The Cougars lost 21-20 in overtime of their 13th game of the season.

This time, SWE will hit the road and a familiar one at that. Vanceboro is the destination where unbeaten West Craven awaits. The Cougars began the season there with a 21-6 loss, helped in part by turnovers in the form of interceptions thrown by SWE. West Craven quarterback Brett Mooring picked apart the Cougars with 267 yards but if next Friday is as cold this Friday, look for the Cougars' wishbone attack to have the upper hand.

Should SouthWest advance to the East championship, it's a very good bet it will find NEW 6 Conference nemesis Rocky Mount waiting. The Gryphons were the other team to beat SWE this year, managing a 7-0 victory in Pinetops by stopping Cougars quarterback Greg Horne millimeters shy of the goal line on fourth down.

Now I know that West Craven's Clay Jordan and B.W. Holt of Rocky Mount are two of the best coaches in the business but I would hate to have to play a Raymond Cobb-coached team twice in one season. The next week — or two — should be very interesting indeed for the SouthWest Edgecombe football team and its fans.

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