CARTERET COUNTY — Two of the three county football teams will be on the road this week, with only East Carteret playing on its home field.
The Mariners will host Pamlico County, while Croatan travels to Swansboro and West Carteret to Richlands.
Coming off a close 14-12 victory over Richlands, the Cougars will face a Swansboro team fresh off a 29-12 win over Dixon on Monday.
The Cougars (3-4, 1-1) have lost their last three matchups with the Pirates (3-3, 2-0), dating back to the 2017 season. Their last win over the Bucs was 38-20 in 2016. Croatan is favored for this game, ranked No. 27 in the latest N.C. High School Athletic Association RPI ratings. Swansboro is ranked No. 36.
The Pirates were averaging 38 points per game until the two games before facing Dixon when they scored just 13 total. They are allowing 36.8 points per game on defense.
The offense has been mostly pass-oriented this season, with quarterback Hunter Johnson throwing for 707 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions. The leading receiver this season has been Isaiah Bromelle with 224 yards and one touchdown.
The rushing game has only generated 400 yards, with Jace Wilkens the leading rusher with 259 yards and two scores.
So far this season, the Cougars’ leading offensive producers have been Alex Barnes with 476 yards and three touchdowns and Brayden Stephens with 410 yards and three scores. Quincy Doneghy is expected to be the starter at quarterback with Evan King, Caden Barnett and Easton Taylor still injured.
The Mariners (2-4, 1-1) got the boost they needed last week with a 33-14 win over Jones Senior.
On Friday, they face Pamlico County (2-4, 1-1) for the first time since 2016, when they defeated the Hurricanes 35-0 in 1A Coastal Plains Conference play.
The ’Canes have won two of their last three games, including a 54-6 trouncing of Lejeune last Friday. Their offense has been relatively balanced, split between 630 rushing yards and 447 passing.
Isaiah Godette has been the leader on offense with 285 passing yards and 376 rushing. In addition to running up most of the offense’s total yards, he’s responsible for 11 of the team’s 14 touchdowns. He’s thrown for four with just one interception and rushed for seven more.
Other Pamlico contributors have been Jayden Williams with 208 yards and a score, and Jamie Gibbs with 208 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
The Mariners will look to lean on Miguel Bassotto, who rushed for 111 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Jones Senior. Antonio Bryant rushed for 49 yards and a score in the win.
The passing offense will also come into this week with momentum after Mariner quarterback Darren Piner went 11-of-16 for 96 yards. Dakota Gray had three catches for 43 yards in that game.
The Patriots (4-2, 2-0) are in control of the 3A Coastal Conference after defeating White Oak 35-22 on Friday.
Now, they will travel to Richlands (0-5, 0-2) for their first matchup with the Wildcats since 2016, when they won 42-6 in 3A Coastal Conference play.
This year, the Wildcats are still without a win, but they have played a few close games. They are coming off a 14-12 loss to Croatan, and before that, a 6-0 loss to Swansboro. They also lost 15-0 to South Brunswick in the season opener.
There are no season stats available for Richlands, but in its last game against Croatan, it rushed for 117 yards and passed for 54. Brennan Baker was the most effective producer with 53 rushing yards. Elijah Polingo also had a strong game at wideout with 41 receiving yards.
The Patriots have a balanced offense to lean on this season. They have tallied 1,002 rushing yards and 870 passing for 1,872 total in six games.
West has a stable of runners in Josh Mason, Shane Hester and Brian Garner, but the offense leans heavily on dynamic quarterback Jamarion Montford. He leads the team in rushing with 325 yards and has passed for 718. He has passed for 426 yards over the last two games after tallying just 292 through the first four. He has seven scores through the air and two on the ground.